Criminal Justice Essay: Death Penalty is Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Death Penalty is a Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The death penalty is a conventional form of punishment meted upon those who perpetrate various serious crimes across the world. In the US, the death penalty is reserved for serious crimes such as murder and terrorism. Despite its continued use, many people feel death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. Many reasons are available why people perceive the death penalty in this manner. According to some people, the penalty does not offer justice to the offended parties in spite of the degree of cruelty it portrays. In spite of these opinions and perceptions, some countries have the law requirement for the death penalty but it is never applied practically. There is need to explore the reasons behind the perception of the penalty as cruel and unusual while also providing an understanding of why it is never used.

One of the reasons why the death sentence is considered to be cruel is because of the manner in which it is executed. In some of the processes, the victim goes through a prolonged period of fear, anxiety and uncertainty before reaching their death. One of the most common ways through which the death sentence is carried out is by administering a lethal injection. The injection is one of the cruelest ways through which the death penalty can be implemented, especially when botched. An example is seen in the US case of Ernest Jones who was sentenced to die by lethal injection. The victim went through an unbearable one and a half hours post injection. In the entire duration, he writhed, emitted different sounds and snored, an indication of excruciating pain. The process must have been unbearable to the victim as well as to those executing the penalty (Manski and John 2).

Apart from the method of administration, the death penalty is also cruel due to the duration taken before execution. The period between the sentencing and the execution of the penalty subjects the victim to moments of adverse mental torture, which may also affect the prison officers. The wait hampers the potential for rational thinking as one waits for their time to be executed. To make matters worse, the waiting period is too long across different countries hence the wait sometimes lasts up to five years. For instance, in the US, the waiting period prior to execution goes for up to 11 years and two months. This implies that for the entire duration, the victim has to live within the correctional facilities in torture and torment (Baldus 45).

In addition to this, the unpredictability of the death penalty also makes it a cruel and unusual form of punishment. For those sentenced to death, predicting whether the execution will occur is sometimes a difficult aspect to understand. In some cases, the death sentences are delayed through the appeal process which prolongs the stay in federal facilities. At times, the death sentence is postponed closer to the execution date making it unpredictable to the sentenced. This unpredictability causes fear and anxiety in the victim making it impossible to focus on daily activities. In conclusion, the death sentence is confirmed to be both cruel and unusual due to various reasons. As such, no one should face the death penalty regardless of their mistakes. The penalty does more harm to more people than the good it does. Moreover, by killing the offender, justice is not necessarily achieved for the offended (canes- Wrone et al 21).

Works Cited

Baldus, David C., George Woodworth, and Charles A. Pulaski. Equal justice and the death penalty: A legal and empirical analysis. Upne, 1990.

Canes-Wrone, Brandice, Tom S. Clark and Jason P. Kelly. “Judicial selection and death penalty decisions.” American Political Science Review 108.01 (2014): 23-39.

Manski, Charles F. and John V. Pepper. “Deterrence and the death penalty: partial identification analysis using repeated cross sections.” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 29.1 (2013): 123-141.

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