Gray areas in death penalty




If you are a supporter of capital punishment, you may change your mind soon. The death penalty, to many people, is a quick and well-deserved way to serve justice. Capital punishment is not something the world is unfamiliar with. In the past, criminals, religious dissidents and political enemies have all been subjected to death and many have been tortured and killed publicly. Capital punishment is often seen as a form of retribution and a way to distribute social equity, rather than a means of deterring inexcusable crime. Currently, 58 nations practice capital punishment, one of them being the United States of America.
However, this article will not grapple with the question of whether or not the death penalty is an acceptable form of punishment. Instead, it will focus on the immoral methods by which it is carried out. In all states of America where capital punishment is legal, it is put in effect foremost by lethal injection. However, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, the prisoner may request to be executed by firing squad, electrocution or lethal gas.
These methods may seem like a step forward from the use of the gallows and public death; however, immorality and unconstitutionality still remains in present day capital punishment.
In Oklahoma, two criminals will be put to death approximately a month from now by lethal injection. However, the two criminals have no idea what they will be injected with, who created the injection and how the injection will kill them, The New York Times says. Will their insides slowly freeze little by little and their hearts seize up at the last moment of torture? Or will they feel like they are being electrified or burned alive? They do not know if they are being subjected to a “cruel and unusual punishment,” which is banned by the 8th Amendment of the Constitution. If the two criminals do not know how the drug used to kill them is made, they do not know how much pain they will undergo.
Oklahoma is carrying out the capital punishment in the form of stealth executions. The Oklahoma state government is secretive about the process and unwilling to supply prisoners with the knowledge of whether or not the punishment they will undergo is even legal.
In fact, Michael Lee Wilson, a condemned murderer who was put to death in Oklahoma by lethal injection in January, said, “I feel my whole body burning” as the drug was injected, according to The New York Times. Because of Oklahoma’s method of stealth executions and refusal to disclose information concerning such executions, there is no way of knowing what the drug was and if it will be used again.
Capital punishment, if performed like it has been in Oklahoma, is completely unacceptable. Not only does it potentially strip a person’s constitutional rights, but it also forces him or her to possibly die a cruel and agonizing death. True, some convicted criminals may “deserve” it. Their crimes might seem enough to justify killing them painfully. But when the line between a simple death sentence and a secretive, unusual torture starts to blur, things become less black and white. Capital punishment is then used merely as a means of retribution rather than a rational sentence to dissuade future crime.
As a nation that prides itself in its guarantee to the protection of all citizens’ rights, America is wrong in its simple ignorance that such rights may be infringed.
Written by STACEY YU
Staff Writer