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Leona Vareene

Kyesha Jennings
English 111
27 April 2014
Death Penalty
For many years theres been debate on whether or not the death penalty should be
abolished. It is legal within 32 states (including North Carolina), leaving 18 states to have it
illegal. Since 1976 approximately 1,378 people have been executed in the United States. 1,203
of those people were killed with lethal injection, then follows electrocution with 158. Gas
chamber is next with 11, while hanging and firing squad method killed 3 (Death Penalty
Information Center, 2014). The capital punishment has been abolished in most of the Western
world and was completely stopped here in 1967. However, in 1976, the Court changed it back,
concluding that the death penalty was constitutional (Margolick, 1985). In 2000 a bill to repeal
the death penalty was passed to the House and Senate but was vetoed by the Governor. Another
attempt was made in 2009 but it failed in the Senate. Early in 2010, the state legislature of New
Hampshire formed a 22-person committee which determined that the death penalty is far more
expensive than convicting someone to time in prison. (Putnam & Keshen, 2014).
Robert Blecker, a professor at New York Law School, teaches criminal law and
constitutional law. He did a special for CNN news where he expresses his dislike for the death
penalty. Lethal injection conflates punishment with medicine. The condemned dies in a gurney,
wrapped in white sheets with an IV in his veins, surrounded by his closest kin, monitored by
sophisticated medical devices, Blecker says. He believes that this is the worst method of
execution, because it feels and seems medical when the purpose of it is really to kill. Although
he is against the capital punishment as a whole, he does say that the firing squad method is
probably best, because it does not sugarcoat what is happening, they have clear intentions to kill.
This method was particularly used in the military and in times of war, it simply means to shoot
the accused. Before times of firearms bows and cross bows were used (Blecker, 2013).
Back in 1985 David Margolick did a special to The Newyork Times in which he shared in
that century, 343 people were wrongly convicted of offenses punishable by death and 25 people
were actually executed. He included the opinion of Ernest van den Haag, a professor of
jurisprudence and public policy at Fordham University. He is a long-time supporter of the death
penalty and even believes that 25 is a very acceptable number because it shows the infrequency
of wrongful executions over 85 years. Haag adds that all human activities including building a
house driving, or even playing a sport could cause innocent people to suffer wrongful deaths
(Margolick, 1985).
Charles Putnam, Co-Director at JusticeWorks and Barbara Keshen, worker at New
Hampshire Civil Liberties Union do an article in which they provide some pros and cons of the
death penalty. Putnam says that some murders, like the intentional murder of a rape victim are
so corrupt that the death sentence is the only logical punishment. He also says research proves
that the capital punishment has helped to reduce homicide on a national level. Putnam considers
that if the death penalty was abolished, the safety of police officers and guards would be at risk.
Theyd have to expose themselves to dangerous and even deadly situations in dealing with
people who should been put on death row. Although the death penalty is a more expensive
punishment, he points out that in New Hampshire capital more cases come up pretty infrequently
and regardless of how much it cost, justice must be served (Putnam & Keshen, 2014).
Keshen, on the other side says that the death penalty is just morally wrong. It
does not affirm the sacredness of human life, demeans the value of life, promotes
violence, and does not promote spiritual healing and well-being of victims. Many
credible sources, including The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, found that 88% of
the nations top criminologists believe the death penalty isnt a deterrent. In a 1995 Hart
Research Associates Poll of police chiefs, the death penalty was ranked as the least
effective tool in lowering crime. Keshen says that the Criminal Just System is not perfect
and as long as states impose the capital punishment, innocent people will be killed. She
also mentions cost, in saying that in some cases its 10x more expensive to sentence
someone to the death penalty than life in prison because the lengthy process. She says
that the average time between someone being sentenced to death and there actual
execution is about 13 years. Lastly Keshen argues that the capital punishment ignores the
real needs of the victims. Instead of spending all that money on having one killed she
thinks the money should be used for providing services to the families of victims (Putnam
& Keshen, 2014).
There are many different things to consider when forming your own opinion to
this debate. Does it go against the constitution? Is it worth the cost? What if innocent
people are killed?? Because of the many elements the death penalty includes its hard for
authorities to make a decision. This is why the capital punishment is not completely legal
across the world or completely illegal, America itself hasnt even been able to come to a
conclusion as a whole. This is why they allow each state to vote on their own and have
their own law regarding the death penalty. Although all states have made their decisions,
the debate isnt over and Im sure it never will be.

Blecker, R. (2013, August 22). With death penalty, let punishment truly fit the crime. Retrieved
April 2014, from CNN Opinion:
Death Penalty Information Center. (2014). States With and Without Death Penalty. Retrieved
April 25, 2014, from Death Penalty Information Center: