Reasons why the death penalty should be abolished:
INNOCENCE- 141 death row inmates were exonerated prior to their executions. They were all found innocent of their crimes. 18 were found innocent due to DNA evidence. Average number of years between being sentenced to death and exoneration: 9.8 years. At least 39 executions are claimed to have been carried out in the U.S. in the face of evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt.Ten inmates executed were found to be innocent after they were executed.
One example is George Junius Stinney Jr. At age 14, accused of murdering two white girls,he is the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century (1944). The boy was small for his age (5'1). So small in fact they had to stack books on the electric chair. Because there was literally no evidence against him the question of Stinney's guilt and the judicial process leading to his execution remains controversial to this day. Most judicial experts feel there is more than an extremely strong possibility that he was innocent. Too late now...
COST- It's more expensive to execute an inmate than it is to house them for life. California is spending an estimated $137 million per year on the death penalty and has not had an execution in six and a half years. Florida is spending approximately $51 million per year on the death penalty, amounting to a cost of $24 million for each execution it carries out. A recent study in Maryland found that the bill for the death penalty over a twenty-year period that produced five executions will be $186 million. Other states like New York and New Jersey spent well over $100 million on a system that produced no executions. The nation’s police chiefs rank the death penalty last in their priorities for effective crime reduction. The officers do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder, and they rate it as one of most inefficient uses of taxpayer dollars in fighting crime. Criminologists concur that the death penalty does not effectively reduce the number of murders. Millions are spent seeking to achieve a single death sentence that, even if imposed is unlikely to be carried out. Thus money that the police desperately need for more effective law enforcement is wasted on the death penalty. It should be high on the list of programs to cut.
CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT- Is an execution in any form considered cruel and unusual punishment?
IS THE DEATH PENALTY A DETERRENT?- NO, NOT AT ALL
WHAT DOES EXECUTING SOMEONE ACCOMPLISH?
SHOULD A CIVILIZED SOCIETY RESORT TO EXECUTING ITS OWN PEOPLE?
WHY ARE SOME CONVICTED MURDERERS SENTENCED TO DEATH WHILE OTHERS ARE NOT?
DOES LEGALLY "MURDERING" SOMEONE MAKE IT ANYTHING LESS THAN PLAIN MURDER?
DOES THE PUNISHMENT FIT THE CRIME?
DO TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT?
IS IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE CERTAIN THE DEATH PENALTY IS EXECUTED PROPERLY?
1. August 10, 1982. Virginia. Frank J. Coppola. Electrocution. Although no media representatives witnessed the execution and no details were ever released by the Virginia Department of Corrections, an attorney who was present later stated that it took two 55-second jolts of electricity to kill Coppola. The second jolt produced the odor and sizzling sound of burning flesh, and Coppola's head and leg caught on fire. Smoke filled the death chamber from floor to ceiling with a smoky haze.
2. April 22, 1983. Alabama. John Evans. Electrocution. After the first jolt of electricity, sparks and flames erupted from the electrode attached to Evans's leg. The electrode burst from the strap holding it in place and caught on fire. Smoke and sparks also came out from under the hood in the vicinity of Evans's left temple. Two physicians entered the chamber and found a heartbeat. The electrode was reattached to his leg, and another jolt of electricity was applied. This resulted in more smoke and burning flesh. Again the doctors found a heartbeat. Ignoring the pleas of Evans's lawyer, a third jolt of electricity was applied. The execution took 14 minutes and left Evans's body charred and smoldering.
3. Sept. 2, 1983. Mississippi. Jimmy Lee Gray. Asphyxiation. Officials had to clear the room eight minutes after the gas was released when Gray's desperate gasps for air repulsed witnesses. His attorney, Dennis Balske of Montgomery, Alabama, criticized state officials for clearing the room when the inmate was still alive. Said noted death penalty defense attorney David Bruck, "Jimmy Lee Gray died banging his head against a steel pole in the gas chamber while the reporters counted his moans "(eleven, according to the Associated Press) Later it was revealed that the executioner, Barry Bruce, was drunk.
4. December 12, 1984. Georgia. Alpha Otis Stephens. Electrocution. "The first charge of electricity ... failed to kill him, and he struggled to breathe for eight minutes before a second charge carried out his death sentence ..."After the first two minute power surge, there was a six minute pause so his body could cool before physicians could examine him (and declare that another jolt was needed). During that six-minute interval, Stephens took 23 breaths. A Georgia prison official said, "Stephens was just not a conductor" of electricity.
5. March 13, 1985. Texas. Stephen Peter Morin. Lethal Injection. Because of Morin's history of drug abuse, the execution technicians were forced to probe both of Morin's arms and one of his legs with needles for nearly 45 minutes before they found a suitable vein.
6. October 16, 1985. Indiana. William E. Vandiver. Electrocution. After the first administration of 2,300 volts, Vandiver was still breathing. The execution eventually took 17 minutes and five jolts of electricity. Vandiver's attorney, Herbert Shaps, witnessed the execution and observed smoke and the smell of burning. He called the execution "outrageous." The Department of Corrections admitted the execution "did not go according to plan."
7. August 20, 1986. Texas. Randy Woolls. Lethal Injection. A drug addict, Woolls helped the execution technicians find a useable vein for the execution.
8. June 24, 1987. Texas. Elliot Rod Johnson. Lethal Injection. Because of collapsed veins, it took nearly an hour to complete the execution.
9. December 13, 1988. Texas. Raymond Landry. Lethal Injection. Pronounced dead 40 minutes after being strapped to the execution gurney and 24 minutes after the drugs first started flowing into his arms. Two minutes after the drugs were administered, the syringe came out of Landry's vein, spraying the deadly chemicals across the room toward witnesses. The curtain separating the witnesses from the inmate was then pulled, and not reopened for fourteen minutes while the execution team reinserted the catheter into the vein. Witnesses reported "at least one groan." A spokesman for the Texas Department of Correction, Charles Brown (sic), said, "There was something of a delay in the execution because of what officials called a 'blowout.' The syringe came out of the vein, and the warden ordered the (execution) team to reinsert the catheter into the vein."
10. May 24, 1989. Texas. Stephen McCoy. Lethal Injection. He had such a violent physical reaction to the drugs (heaving chest, gasping, choking, back arching off the gurney, etc.) that one of the witnesses (male) fainted, crashing into and knocking over another witness. Houston attorney Karen Zellars, who represented McCoy and witnessed the execution, thought the fainting would catalyze a chain reaction. The Texas Attorney General admitted the inmate "seemed to have a somewhat stronger reaction," adding "The drugs might have been administered in a heavier dose or more rapidly."
11. July 14, 1989. Alabama. Horace Franklin Dunkins, Jr. Electrocution. It took two jolts of electricity, nine minutes apart, to complete the execution. After the first jolt failed to kill the prisoner (who was mildly retarded), the captain of the prison guard opened the door to the witness room and stated "I believe we've got the jacks on wrong."Because the cables had been connected improperly, it was impossible to dispense sufficient current to cause death. The cables were reconnected before a second jolt was administered. Death was pronounced 19 minutes after the first electric charge. At a post-execution news conference, Alabama Prison Commissioner Morris Thigpen said, “I regret very very much what happened. [The cause] was human error."
12. May 4, 1990. Florida. Jesse Joseph Tafero. Electrocution. During the execution, six-inch flames erupted from Tafero's head, and three jolts of power were required to stop his breathing. State officials claimed that the botched execution was caused by "inadvertent human error" -- the inappropriate substitution of a synthetic sponge for a natural sponge that had been used in previous executions. They attempted to support this theory by sticking a part of a synthetic sponge into a "common household toaster" and observing that it smoldered and caught fire.
13. September 12, 1990. Illinois. Charles Walker. Lethal Injection. Because of equipment failure and human error, Walker suffered excruciating pain during his execution. According to Gary Sutterfield, an engineer from the Missouri State Prison who was retained by the State of Illinois to assist with Walker's execution, a kink in the plastic tubing going into Walker's arm stopped the deadly chemicals from reaching Walker. In addition, the intravenous needle was inserted pointing at Walker's fingers instead of his heart, prolonging the execution.
14. October 17, 1990. Virginia. Wilbert Lee Evans. Electrocution. When Evans was hit with the first burst of electricity, blood spewed from the right side of the mask on Evans's face, drenching Evans's shirt with blood and causing a sizzling sound as blood dripped from his lips. Evans continued to moan before a second jolt of electricity was applied. The autopsy concluded that Evans suffered a bloody nose after the voltage surge elevated his high blood pressure.
15. August 22, 1991. Virginia. Derick Lynn Peterson. Electrocution. After the first cycle of electricity was applied, and again four minutes later, prison physician David Barnes inspected Peterson's neck and checked him with a stethoscope, announcing each time "He has not expired." Seven and one-half minutes after the first attempt to kill the inmate, a second cycle of electricity was applied. Prison officials later announced that in the future they would routinely administer two cycles before checking for a heartbeat.
16. January 24, 1992. Arkansas. Rickey Ray Rector. Lethal Injection. It took medical staff more than 50 minutes to find a suitable vein in Rector's arm. Witnesses were kept behind a drawn curtain and not permitted to view this scene, but reported hearing Rector's eight loud moans throughout the process. During the ordeal Rector (who suffered from serious brain damage) helped the medical personnel find a vein. The administrator of State's Department of Corrections medical programs said (paraphrased by a newspaper reporter) "the moans did come as a team of two medical people that had grown to five worked on both sides of his body to find a vein." The administrator said "That may have contributed to his occasional outbursts." The difficulty in finding a suitable vein was later attributed to Rector's bulk and his regular use of antipsychotic medication.
17. May 3, 2000. Arkansas. Christina Marie Riggs. Lethal Injection. Riggs dropped her appeals and asked to be executed. However, the execution was delayed for 18 minutes when prison staff couldn't find a suitable vein in her elbows. Finally, Riggs agreed to the executioners' requests to have the needles in her wrists.
18. June 8, 2000. Florida. Bennie Demps. Lethal Injection. It took execution technicians 33 minutes to find suitable veins for the execution. "They butchered me back there," said Demps in his final statement. "I was in a lot of pain. They cut me in the groin; they cut me in the leg. I was bleeding profusely. This is not an execution, it is murder." The executioners had no unusual problems finding one vein, but because Florida protocol requires a second alternate intravenous drip, they continued to work to insert another needle, finally abandoning the effort after their prolonged failures.
19. November 7, 2001. Georgia. Jose High. Lethal Injection. High was pronounced dead some one hour and nine minutes after the execution began. After attempting to find a useable vein for "15 to 20 minutes," the emergency medical technicians under contract to do the execution abandoned their efforts. Eventually, one needle was stuck in High's hand, and a physician was called in to insert a second needle between his shoulder and neck.
20. May 2, 2006. Ohio. Joseph L. Clark. Lethal Injection. It took 22 minutes for the execution technicians found a vein suitable for insertion of the catheter. But three or four minutes thereafter, as the vein collapsed and Clark’s arm began to swell, he raised his head off the gurney and said five times, “It don’t work. It don’t work.” The curtains surrounding the gurney were then closed while the technicians worked for 30 minutes to find another vein. Media witnesses later reported that they heard “moaning, crying out and guttural noises.” Finally, death was pronounced almost 90 minutes after the execution began. A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Corrections told reporters that the execution team included paramedics, but not a physician or a nurse.
21. May 24, 2007. Ohio. Christopher Newton. Lethal Injection. According to the Associated Press, “prison medical staff” at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility struggled to find veins on each of Newton’s arms during the execution. Newton, who weighted 265 pounds, was declared dead almost two hours after the execution process began. The execution “team” stuck Newton at least ten times with needles before getting the shunts in place were the needles are injected.
22. Sept. 15, 2009. Ohio. Romell Broom. Lethal Injection. Efforts to find a suitable vein and to execute Mr. Broom were terminated after more than two hours when the executioners were unable to find a useable vein in Mr. Broom’s arms or legs. During the failed efforts, Mr. Broom winced and grimaced with pain. After the first hour’s lack of success, on several occasions Broom tried to help the executioners find a good vein. “At one point, he covered his face with both hands and appeared to be sobbing, his stomach heaving. Finally, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland ordered the execution to stop, and announced plans to attempt the execution anew after a one-week delay so that physicians could be consulted for advice on how the man could be killed more efficiently.The executioners blamed the problems on Mr. Broom’s history of intravenous drug use. Additional information can be found here.
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