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The Death penalty determined by a series of people sitting on a jury deciding the fate of this person because of the representation he had during his trial. The person on trial is not being given the death penalty only based on the horrendous crime they had committed, but also on the testimony that is slowly being revealed by each witness that is called upon and questioned by both defendant and prosecuting attorneys. The question is are criminals getting the death penalty because of the crime they committed or because of what twelve jurors decide based on testimony and evidence and not just the crime itself. Death Penalty: The Death penalty is “death as a punishment given by a court of law for very serious crimes: capital punishment” (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2018). AKA Capital Punishment. Execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law of a criminal offense. (, 2018).

History of Death Penalty in United States

Captain George Kendall, Jamestown Colony of Virginia 1608. Being a spy in Spain. Virginia Governor Sir Thomas Dale 1612. Divine Law, Martial Law, Moral Law: simple theft acts as steeling grapes, killing chickens and trading with the Indians could result if found guilty given the Death Penalty. Late 1700’s begins The Abolitionist Movement, end African American and Indian slave trade and set slaves free. Early 1800’s more states reduce their amount of capital crimes and start building penitentiaries.

1847 Michigan becomes the 1st state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes except treason. 1890 William Kemmler 1st execution by electrocution. Progressive Era of the 1900s. social activism and political reform across the US. For example, Civil rights, labor reform, women’s rights, socialism to just name a few. Early 1960s, it was suggested that the death penalty was a ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment, and therefore unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. In 1958, the Supreme Court had decided in Trop. Dulles (356 U.S. 86), that the Eighth Amendment contained an ‘evolving standard of decency that marked the progress of a maturing society. (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018). June 29, 1972, the Supreme Court effectively voided 40 death penalty statutes, thereby commuting the sentences of 629 death row inmates around the country and suspending the death penalty because existing statutes were no longer valid. (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018). 1976 – Gregg v. Georgia. Guided discretion statutes approved. Death penalty reinstated (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018). December 7, 1982 – Charles Brooks becomes the first person executed by lethal injection. (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018). 1984 – Velma Barfield becomes the first woman executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018). 1994 – President Clinton signs the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act expanding the federal death penalty. 1996 – President Clinton signs the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act restricting review in federal courts. (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018).


Innocence and the death penalty


Death row contain innocent victims being mentally tortured because they have been found guilty and sentenced to death for a crime they didn’t commit. Imagine sitting on death row for a crime you know you did not commit waiting for your turn to die. The mental torture counting the days to your execution. Carlos DeLuna Texas Conviction: 1983, Executed: 1989 A Chicago Tribune investigation released in 2006 revealed groundbreaking evidence that Texas may have executed an innocent man in 1989. The defendant, Carlos DeLuna, was executed for the fatal stabbing of Texas convenience store clerk Wanda Lopez in 1983. The evidence uncovered by reporters Maurice Possley and Steve Mills cast doubt on DeLuna’s guilt and points towards another man, Carlos Hernandez, who had a record of similar crimes and repeatedly confessed to the murder. A news piece aired on ABC’s ‘World News Tonight” also covered this story. (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018). On January 7, 2011, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter granted a full and unconditional posthumous pardon to Joe Arridy, who had been convicted and executed as an accomplice to a murder that occurred in 1936. The pardon came 72 years after Arridy’s execution and is the first such pardon in Colorado history. A press release from the governor’s office stated, ‘[A]n overwhelming body of evidence indicates the 23-year-old Arridy was innocent, including false and coerced confessions, the likelihood that Arridy was not in Pueblo at the time of the killing, and an admission of guilt by someone else.’ (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018). Mental illness/mentally disabled and death penalty. Cecil Clayton was executed on March 17, 2015, in Missouri. He was 74, suffered from dementia, had an IQ of 71, was missing a significant part of his brain due to an accident. His attorneys insisted he should be spared because he did not understand the punishment to be carried out. (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018). Mental illness/disability can cause false information to be given.

Mental illness/disability wrongful admission statements. They are more likely to go along, agree and comply with authority figures – to say what the police want them to say – than the general population,’ notes Emory University professor Morgan Cloud, who co-wrote another study that found that the mentally impaired – even those who with mild forms of mental retardation – are largely incapable of understanding police admonitions of their right to remain silent and to have an attorney. (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018). Death penalty and racial issues a. the Supreme Court has been condemning racial bias in jury selection in capital cases since 1880 when it outlawed the practice in Strauder v. West Virginia. But more than 100 years after the court’s first decision on this problem, and 40 years into our modern experiment with the death penalty, widespread racial bias continues in jury selection for capital cases. We continue to send people to die from trials tainted by racial bias (ACLU, 2018) . On Oct. 11, the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional, ruling the “death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased matter” and ‘it fails to serve any legitimate penological goal.”

The death penalty is a punishment that is as flawed as it is final, and as the Washington high court acknowledges, one plagued by racial bias and arbitrariness. (Stubbs, 2018). Johnny Lee Gates, a Black man convicted in 1977 by an all-white jury of murdering a white woman in Muscogee County, Georgia, is currently fighting for his right to a retrial free from racial discrimination. March of this year — unquestionably reveals the racism guiding the juror selection process. The prosecution’s notes, for example, contain jury-selection notations of “W” next to white prospective jurors and “N” next to Black prospective jurors. (Ensign, 2018).

Reasons for Death Penalty other than murder state (Death Penalty Information Center, 2018). Treason (Arkansas, Calif., Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington). Aggravated kidnapping (Co., Idaho, Il., Missouri, Mont.). Drug trafficking (Fl., Missouri). Aircraft hijacking (Ga., Mo.). Placing a bomb near a bus terminal (Mo.) Espionage (New Mexico). Aggravated assault by incarcerated, persistent felons, or murderers (Mont.)

Reasons for death penalty other than murder per Federal Capital Statutes


  • Espionage (18 U.S.C. 794)
  • Treason (18 U.S.C. 2381)
  • Trafficking in large quantities of drugs (18 U.S.C. 3591(b))
  • Attempting, authorizing or advising the killing of any officer, juror, or witness in cases involving a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, regardless of whether such killing occurs (18 U.S.C. 3591(b)(2)).

Death Penalty and Support

Public support for the death penalty, which reached a four-decade low in 2016, has increased somewhat since then. Today, 54% of Americans favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 39% are opposed, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April and May. (Oliphant, 2018. Support for the death penalty has long been divided by gender and race. In the new survey, about six-in-ten men (61%) say they are in favor of the death penalty and 34% are opposed. (Oliphant, 2018). Women’s views are more divided: 46% favor the death penalty, while 45% oppose it. (Oliphant, 2018) d. Younger than age 30 tend to be less favorable for the death penalty versus older adults.

Moral Issues With the Death Penalty

  • Value of human life. Some people value human life to a degree that even the worst of worst should not be deprived of life even if they took a life. Everyone has the right to live. If we take a life because a life was taken, then we are taking away that person’s right to live. Everyone has an inalienable human right to life, even those who commit murder; sentencing a person to death and executing them violates that right. (BBC, 2018)
  • Retribution is wrong. Many people believe that retribution is morally flawed and problematic in concept and practice. We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing. (U.S. Catholic Conference). To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, it is not justice. (Attributed to Archbishop Desmond Tutu) (BBC, 2018) d. John Dear, Jesuit Priest from the Society of Jesus, in a June 17, 2008 National Catholic Reporter article titled ‘Abolish the Death Penalty Now!’, wrote: ‘We, like Jesus, should feel free to side with the condemned, forgive those who hurt us, who injure or kill those we love, and in this way put an end to wheel of violence that keeps going around. And as Catholic Christians we should feel free to stand with the bishops and utter: the death penalty is immoral, evil and sinful.’- June 17, 2008 – John Dear (Dear, 2018) e. Alex Kozinski, JD, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in a Nov. 7, 2002 Hoover Institution interview, stated: ‘Immanuel Kant said it best. He said a society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else’s life is simply immoral.

So, the question really… when the system works and when you manage to identify somebody who has done such heinous evil, do we have a right to take his life? I think the answer’s plainly yes. And I would go with Kant and I would say it is immoral for us not to. (PROCON.ORG, 2018). J. Budziszewski, Professor of Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, in a Jan. 25, 2002 conference hosted by the Pew Forum, titled ‘A Call for Reckoning: Religion and the Death Penalty,’ stated: ‘The normal moral reason for upholding capital punishment is reverence for life itself. Indeed, this is the reason why scripture and Christian tradition have upheld it, a fact which suggests that, if anything, it may be the abolition of capital punishment which threatens to cheapen life, not its retention… (PROCON.ORG, 2018)., a Christian ministry, in its website section titled ‘Capital Punishment – Death Penalty,’ (accessed Jan. 24, 2017), stated: ‘The Death Penalty is moral and just. Judicial death for the purpose of maintaining justice or righteousness is well established in human history. However, the rise of death penalty executions in the United States against a backdrop of liberalism has triggered protests from various anti-capital punishment factions. Often shouting the loudest are liberal religionists and clergy who erroneously claim to speak for God. These folks are grossly confused and seriously wrong.’ (PROCON.ORG, 2018)

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Popular Questions About Death Penalty

What states have a death penalty?
Names of States in the United States with the Death Penalty Alabama Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Idaho
Which countries still have the death penalty?
Countries that have the death penalty include:AfghanistanAntigua and BarbudaBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelizeBotswanaChad
What crimes warrant death penalty?
Crimes such as arson, rape, robbery, and counterfeiting also resulted in this ultimate penalty. Many crimes which are no longer prevalent today, such as horse theft, piracy, and slave rebellions, could have also warranted death.