Capital punishment is used to bring justice to the crimes of murderers in our society, but is it really just? Studies show that the death penalty is cruel, morally wrong, and sometimes painful. It robs the criminal and the public of their humanity and undermines the value of life. The public should come to realize the cruelty of this law, and this form of punishment should be abolished from the government's criminal justice system.
Philosopher's first began to question the justice of capital punishment in the eighteenth century. Italian criminologist Cesare Beccaria condemned capital punishment as a grossly inhumane deterrent to crime, and modern critics argue that all killing is wrong and can never be justified, whether it is done by a criminal or the government. When the state executes a criminal while saying murder is wrong, it denies the value of human life (Capital Punishment, 17). They cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing (Deacons of Paterson, 51). All human lives are equally valuable despite chosen moral behavior, but some people think that only the lives of the morally innocent are truly “human.” Is there a person out there who is truly morally pure and innocent? Under this type of thinking, any person could easily be put into a subhuman category that is condemned. Is there a clear distinction between the two? America was founded on the principle that each individual is an end in himself. Killing these criminals contradicts the highest moral end of civil society: the human life (Bidinotto, 23). The taking of life is the ultimate possible waste (24).
Today, Americans are in search of a tame, reliable, or “perfect” way of carrying out the death penalty. Methods that have been used were public hangings and firing squads, but as time moved on, our methods graduated to the electric chair, gas chamber, and lethal injection. (Johnson, 42). Most executions appear to be painless, but appearances can be misleading. People assume that there is no pain because the victims do not move or speak, but they do not move or speak because they are paralyzed (43). It is obvious that victims of public hangings and firing squads did suffer a great deal of pain. In botched executions, a hanging victim's neck may not break immediately, and he would be left hanging in the air for several minutes while being strangled by the rope around his neck. If a firing squad did not aim correctly, the victim would be left bleeding to death from his wounds (44). On March 25, 1996, Pedro Medina was strapped to the electric chair. The first surge of two thousand volts of electricity coursed through his body and caused flames to leap through his mask and burned for about ten seconds. He was literally burned alive. Because of his lack of reaction, some speculated that he was instantly killed (Bidinotto, 18). Harold Hillman, a neurobiologist, stated:
It is usually thought that the failure of the convict to move is a sign that he cannot feel pain. He cannot...