Death Penalty: Inhumane or Fair?

Staff Writer: John Mack

Recently, death penalty cases are becoming more and more controversial because of an increase in media attention and a rise of botched, or failed, executions. As recently as last month, Georgia and other U.S. states continue to execute criminals despite growing calls from opponents of execution, such as Pope Francis and Vatican City.

The United States has executed criminals since its origins in Jamestown and continued through its independence in 1776. Some of the methods once used were firing squads, gas chambers, electrocution and hanging before most states settling on lethal injection because it is most “humane”. However, with the recent failure of lethal injections to kill effectively many have wondered if this is the right time to abolish the death penalty.

The European Union recently banned the export of drugs used in the death penalty leaving many states to use untested drugs leading to botched executions in Oklahoma and Arizona. Utah has even changed over from lethal injections to firing squad due to the recent executions controversy. Another issue is if a person who dies is actually innocent. This has happened multiple times, and when the UK killed someone who was innocent; the UK abolished the death penalty.

Nineteen states have banned the death penalty although the federal government can execute someone on federal crimes even if the state abolished the death penalty. The U.S. ranks sixth highest in the world for executions with China being ranked first. In addition, the U.S. is only one of four industrialized powers with the death penalty and is the only G7 nation to have it. With this, people like Pope Francis have called for the abolishment of the death penalty including intervening in the recent case of Kelly Gissendaner.

Here are some recent controversial cases where the death penalty has been involved:

Kelly Gissendaner: Convicted in 1998 for plotting the death of her husband. She was scheduled to die in March 2015, but after problems with the drugs, the execution was postponed until September 30, 2015, when she was executed despite calls form Vatican City to end the execution.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: Boston Marathon bomber was convicted in June 2015 for the deadly attack on Boston. He was sentenced to death and is awaiting his execution on death row despite multiple appeals from his attorneys to spare his life.

Richard Glossip: Convicted of murder and sentenced to die on October 1, 2015, but after questions about the drugs used to execute him his execution is on hold until the drug combination can be figured out by the state of Oklahoma.

Clayton Lockett: Convicted of murder and was executed on April 29, 2014. However the execution was botched and he died of a heart attack from the drugs leading to questions about Oklahoma’s death penalty.

Joseph Wood: Executed in 2014 by the state of Arizona. The execution was botched and Wood was gasping for air for two hours until he died leading to further questions about Arizona’s death penalty and if the drugs used for lethal injection are safe.


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