Capital punishment (right next to abortion) is one of the most controversial subjects in politics. There are people who believe it is justified and some who believe it is out-right wrong. But the real question we should be asking ourselves is whether it is unconstitutional or not.
The eighth amendment makes it illegal for the government to give out cruel and/or unusual punishments and high fines. As we all know, the government could care less about the Bill of Rights, let alone the Constitution itself. If the government actually cared about capital punishment or its founding documents the only method we would use is the firing squad.
Now why the firing squad you ask? Simply put, it is the only method of execution the United States has that does NOT violate the eighth amendment.
How are the other methods unconstitutional? Why would you not use lethal injection or even hanging? We are lead to believe all methods that are used are quick and painless. The sad truth is firing squad is the only method that is, truly, not torturous, but it is only used in three states: Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Utah. Lethal injection can take up to two hours to declare someone dead. There have been so many botched lethal injections that it should logically be considered torture.
Clayton Lockett was given lethal injection in 2014. The executioners could not find a vein in his arm to take the needle so they put the I.V. in his groin and administered the drugs that way. Come to find out he had a collapsed vein and the chemicals leaked or absorbed in to his tissue. The director called off the execution when he realized not enough drugs were in Lockett to actually kill him. He died of a massive heart attack. Lockett’s case is not alone, there have been many cases where the convicted documentedly shows signs of pain during the execution. There is not any proof suggesting lethal injection is painless, whereas many cases have proven it is not.
Hanging is often considered quick and painless too but according to studies it takes the heart 20 minutes to stop beating after a person in hung via long rope. As for electrocution, it is essentially the process of cooking a human brain and internal organs inside an inmate’s body- a bit inhumane. It has even been ruled unconstitutional by the Nebraska and Georgia Supreme courts.
Gassing is also a problem. Inmates tend to hold their breath when the gas is administered. Signs of vomiting and hyperventilation has been reported while inmates are in the gas chamber. It also goes without saying, most Americans are tentative to be “gas chamber proponents.”
The firing squad consists of five marksmen equipped with 30 caliber Winchester rifles. One of the rifles is given a blank so none of the riflemen will know who actually fired the lethal rounds. For accuracy a target is placed on the heart. Once given the signal the marksmen all aim for the target and pierce the heart and lungs cutting off blood circulation to the brain. You will die within 10 seconds or immediately. You are only kept alive by the remainder of oxygen that is in your blood. 10 seconds for firing squad and a possible 2 hours for lethal injection? I think I know where to take my chances.
I think we need a huge reform in capital punishment. I, personally, believe that it should be abolished all together. All European countries minus Russia and Belarus have abolished it, but if the United States is going to continue with it then I believe it is time to make firing squad the only method of execution. Instead of having a judge decide the convicted’s fate it should be the families of the victims that decide whether or not they get the death penalty. It costs an average of 1.8 million dollars of tax payer money to execute just one prisoner due to a robust and necessary appeals process.
We are in trillions of dollars in debt and we are wasting money on killing people. It’s time to reform the death penalty and make it legal again. If citizens have to follow the rules then our government should as well.
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