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There has always been a controversy over whether the death

penalty should be legal in the United States. Some say that the death
penalty is justified and gives retribution, while others argue that the
death penalty is unjustified and cruel. There are many thought
provoking points that are made for each side of the debate that could
make one second guess their original thoughts towards the death
penalty.
The death penalty is when a person is executed for a crime that
they are pronounced guilty of. There are different types of methods
that are used to execute a person. The most traditional form of
execution is hanging; and it is still used in 3 states. 2 states still use
the firing squad method. The most widely used form of execution in
this country, during the twentieth century, was electrocution. The
latest mode of execution, enacted into law by more than 30 states, is
the lethal injection. (Heckler). There are 18 states that have banned
the death penalty (Blumenthal). The fact that 18 states have banned
the death penalty could be a sign that there is a great downside to
ending someones life.
People who are against the death penalty argue that it violates
the constitution because execution falls under cruel and unusual
punishment, which violates the eighth amendment. According to
Blumenthal there is general agreement that if the drugs are

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administered properly, the lethal injection produces a humane death.
But if the first drug is administered incorrectly, the second and third
chemicals can give rise to suffocation and intense pain. The lethal
injection isnt the only form of execution that could go wrong. The way
to hang someone has to be very precise or else a persons head could
be torn off or the victim could die a slow and agonizing death by
strangulation (Heckler). Evidence shows that these horrific incidents
happen often, but there is no way to stop the execution if something
goes wrong. The executioner can only sit there and watch the person
suffer until the end.
Others disagree that the death penalty isnt a cruel and
unusual punishment. They argue, A criminal penalty lacks a
retributive purpose unless it inflicts pain commensurate with the pain
that the criminal has caused. The U.S constitution specifically allows
for the death penalty to be imposed as a criminal sanction (Scalia).
The death penalty is seen as justified because it causes as much pain
as the criminals have caused while doing their crimes, though people
could argue that that isnt necessarily true. A murderer couldve
tortured their victim to death, but the death penalty is supposed to be
a swift death, so one could say that the death penalty isnt harsh
enough for certain murderers.
Many people who are against the death penalty in the United
States believe that revenge is being served to the people who are

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being executed, not justice. Robinson, author to the Washington Post,
says, But revenge is not the same thing as justice, and karmic
retribution is not a power I trust the government to exercise. The
death penalty has no place in a civilized society. There are some
victims families who do not wish the felon to be executed, but the
government will not take into account what the families and friends
wish for the criminal. The victims families should have a say in what
the punishment should be because their religion, or their values, could
be against using the death penalty.
The article Pro-death Penalty states that, With a yearly average
of 15,000 murders, the fact that we are reaching 1,000 executions in
only a little more than 30 years is proof that capital punishment has
been reserved for the worst of the worst. Even if someone commits a
horrendous crime, they might not be sentenced to death for it because
the government is becoming stricter on whom they think should be
executed. The attention given to the execution of 1,000 murderers is
repugnant, especially when the loudest voices think the death of a
convicted murderer is a tragedy (Pro-death Penalty). Not only do
some people feel as though the death penalty is justified, but they also
want the states to be less strict as to what types of criminals deserve
to die. There are still families and friends in the United States that feel
as though their loved ones cases have been unresolved because the
felon is still alive.

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The system for judging whether a criminal should be punished by
death is seen as unjust. Americans against the death penalty believe
that the court bases their final judgment largely on the convicted
felons race, race of the victim, where the crime took place, the skill of
their attorneys, and the amount of money they have (The Case
Against). People of color are far more likely to be executed than
white people, especially if the victim is white (The Case Against). If
there is an injustice in the way that felons are being given the death
penalty, then the death penalty cant be justified. If a person is
executed, then there is no way to bring them back to life if new
evidence is found that can save them from the death penalty. The
death sentence is irreversible.
Pro-death penalty citizens argue that there are more Blacks and
Hispanics being given the death penalty, but that is because the
majority of the murderers are Blacks and Hispanics. Koch states, The
cry of racism by the opponents really stems from the contention that
the murderers of minority victims are given prison sentences to a
greater degree than death sentences, whereas the murderers of white
victims are more likely to be given death sentences. Instead of
suggesting that more minorities be given the death penalty in larger
numbers upon conviction, they want there to be no death penalty.
Koch believes that there isnt racism involved when deciding who is
being sentenced to death. Some suggest that people dont want the

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death penalty to be legal, so those people made up a way to fight
against the death penalty in a way that would attract the publics
attention. History has shown that Americans have cried racism as a
form of protest when race wasnt actually involved in the situation.
Allowing the death penalty, some Americans say, shows that
citizens are given free will to do as they please, but would be punished
for their actions if they act disorderly. In the article Is the Death
Penalty immoral? the author says, The death penalty honors human
dignity by treating the defendant as a free moral actor able to control
his own destiny for good or for ill; it does not treat him as an animal
with no moral sense, and thus subject even to butchery to satiate
human gluttony. Humans are given the choice on what to do with
their life, so they must suffer the consequences of their actions.
Whether the death penalty should be allowed in the United
States is still a sensitive topic for most people. Those who see the
death sentence as injustice claim that execution is a cruel and
unusual punishment. They think revenge is being served instead of
justice; and the system used to judge how severe a punishment should
be is corrupt. Those who see the death penalty as justice claim that
the death penalty is retributive. They believe the government is
already too strict on who deserves to die or not; and humans are given
the right to control their own destiny, so they should be punished for
their actions.

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Works Cited
Blumenthal, Ralph. "THE DEATH PENALTY DEBATE." New York Times
Upfront. 01 Sep. 2008: 14. eLibrary. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.
"The Case Against the Death Penalty." American Civil Liberties Union.
ACLU, 11 Dec. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

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Eugene Robinson: There's No Humane Way to Carry out the Death
Penalty." Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 10
Dec. 2014.
Heckler, Chaney V. "Execution Methods." American Civil Liberties
Union. N.p., 1983. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.
"Is the Death Penalty Immoral? - Death Penalty - ProCon.org."
ProConorg Headlines. N.p., 30 July 2008. Web. 08 Dec. 2014.
Koch, Edward. "Justice Is Served with the Death Penalty." The Death
Penalty. Ed. Jenny Cromie and Lynn M. Zott. Detroit:
Greenhaven Press, 2013. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Why
I Support the Death Penalty." http://www.newsmax.com. 2012.
Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.Document
URL
"Pro-death Penalty." Pro-death Penalty.com. N.p., 18 July 1998. Web. 08
Dec. 2014.
Scalia, Antonin Gregory. "The Death Penalty Does Not Violate the US
Constitution." The Ethics of Capital Punishment. Ed. Christine
Watkins. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. At Issue. Opposing
Viewpoints in Context. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.