The Death Penalty


Should the Death Penalty be abolished in theU.S?

The death penalty was introduced to put capitaloffenses, many centuries ago, even before the unification of theUnited States. Different regimes have used various methods ofexecuting the death penalty. Some range from inhuman to brutal. Oneparticular brutal example involves a Frenchman named Robert-FrançoisDamien accused of attempted assassination of the king (Haines6). His gruesome public executioninvolved tying four of his limbs to horse carriages. The horses beganto pull in opposing directions until his body disintegrated into fourpieces. Some regimes used the guillotine. Presently, the most commonforms of execution include firing squad, hanging, lethal injectionand the electric chair.

The majority of the people in the past werepro-execution. However, with the rising concern regarding humanrights, more people are beginning to question this practice. In thepast, this form of punishment was usually done in public as a way ofinstilling fear among prospective wrong doers (Hansand Alec 286). Of course, some rulersused it to serve their interest while in some instances, the wrongsuspects fell victim. One thing remains for sure- it did not stoppeople from committing crimes. There was always someone daring enoughto try it.

Nowadays, human rights activists are pressuringthe government to do away with the death penalty. Their argument isthat two wrongs do not make a right. A person that takes the life ofanother because they killed is not better than the murderer. Theyalso argue that it contravenes a basic human right- right to life(Hans and Alec 288).On the opposing side, groups that support the death penalty claimthat some offenders do not deserve to live. Murderers, robbers,pedophiles and other capital offenders need not enjoy the taxpayer’smoney in prison. This issue forms the basis of my research questionwhether the death penalty should be abolished in the United States.

I developed the interested in this issue in2006, when I watched the footage of Saddam Hussein’s hangingpenalty. I felt pity for him. The memory of that footage still causesgoose bumps on my body. It made me realize that human life is quicklydispensable. I am still interested in the issue because I am awarethat many inmates are still facing a Saddam Hussein’s fate. Thegovernment is still executing death- row inmates in total disregardof the chants from the human rights activists. The recent acts ofdenouncement by various lobby groups have also renewed my interest inthis issue. All over the media houses there are debates regardingthis issue.

The fact that people are still debating on themorality of the death sentence implies that the issue requires moreexploration. If the government puts a stop to it, there will be apublic outcry from the supporters of the death penalty. If thepresent status prevails, then the anti-death penalty groups will keeppestering the government (Lu and Miethe34). There is a need to find an amicablesolution that will satisfy both parties and the rights of theconvicts. The solution is only accessible through further explorationof the issue.

People hold different perspectives with regardabout the issue of the death penalty. The first alternative to tacklethis issue is from the perspective of the inmate’s human rights.Even though they are offenders, does the death penalty encroach ontheir right to life? It is also important to look from the victim’sperspective. Does the penalty serve justice or vengeance? Otherperspectives include those of the civil society, the legislature,correctional facilities, the public and supporters of the deathpenalty.

Annotated Bibliography on the Death Penalty Topic

Haines H. Against Capital Punishment: The Anti-Death PenaltyMovement in America, 1972-1994. New York: Oxford UniversityPress 1996. Print

Haines writes the struggles that death penalty abolitionists havegone through since 1972 when the pro-death movement started gainingmomentum. Initially, it had been the death penalty abolitionistsagain government agencies. The increasing popularity of the pro-death movement hardened the quest for the abolishment of the deathpenalty.

The author begins by condemning the justice system. He terms is asracist, ineffective, expensive and cruel. The source is crediblebecause the author draws references from past work, governmentstatistics, and personal interviews. The author also takes a neutralstand regarding the issue of the death penalty. His main argument isabout the struggles that abolitionist movements have had to face.

This book is useful for this research question because it explainsthe contempt of the death penalty from the perspective of anti- deathpenalty activist groups. The book also highlights the reason whyanti- death penalty groups have not been able to influence the massesto speak against the death penalty.

Hans Zeisel, Alec M. Gallup. Death penalty sentiment in the UnitedStates. Journal of Quantitative Criminology. September 1989:5(3): 285-296

This journal article by the duo is a research project aimed atfinding out the public opinion regarding the death penalty. They didthe social experiment in the US. The target respondents were peoplefrom all socio- economic backgrounds. Results showed that the averagepercentage of Americans supporting the death penalty were 73% in1989. The proportion varied from one group to another based onpolitical affiliation, sex, and ethnic background.

The findings of this research are credible because the researchersused the appropriate tools. They created a questionnaire that offeredalternative positions to the correspondents. For instance, if acorrespondent answered in the affirmative, a follow up question wouldinquire whether they would change their position if the governmentdenied death row inmates’ parole.

I will use this source in the research paper find out how many are insupport and those that oppose. However, the percentages for andagainst the death penalty will not affect this research.

Hong Lu, Miethe Terrance. China’s death penalty: History, Lawand contemporary practices. New York: Routledge: 2007. Print.

The book is about death penalty China. The authors demystify numerousmisconceptions that the Western media hold regarding executions inChina. The western media portrays the death penalty in China as ameans used by the government to mitigate the opposition. The authorsgive examples of death row convicts that were pardoned because ofgood behavior. They also cite some offenders that deserved thepenalty.

The book is a credible source because it is built on actual research.Unlike the biased reports that we see in the western media, theauthors of this book take a neutral stand regarding the issue inchina.

I will use this source to compare the United States case and Chinesecase, with regard to the death penalty. This source is useful becauseit provides the perspective of a different country in regard to thedeath penalty. Just like in the USA, China started using the lethalinjection in 1979. It also talks about the public perception of thedeath penalty in China, which can be used to reflect about theAmerican case.

Works Cited

Haines H. AgainstCapital Punishment: The Anti-Death Penalty Movement in America,1972-1994. New York: OxfordUniversity Press 1996. Print

Hans Zeisel, Alec M. Gallup. Deathpenalty sentiment in the United States. Journal of QuantitativeCriminology. September 1989: 5(3):285-296

Hong Lu, Miethe Terrance. China’sdeath penalty: History, Law andcontemporary practices. New York:Routledge: 2007. Print.