The Death Penalty 10 Essay Research Paper

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The Death Penalty 10 Essay, Research Paper Oklahoma executed Sean Sellers, who was sixteen when he murdered his parents, February 1999. This marked the first time in forty years that such a young offender was executed in the United States. Criticism and calls for clemency came from around the world, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the American Bar Association, and Amnesty International. These events that have occurred in our country are tearing it apart at its seams: the death penalty and the divided America it has created. Long before the first prisons were built there was the penalty of death. The Greeks and Hebrews developed a specific ritual for execution by stoning. Death by a thousand cuts was popular in China where small bits of flesh were carved away over a period

of days or weeks. In the 19th century India elephants were sometimes used to make executions especially excruciating. While in England people convicted of capital crimes were hung, disemboweled, and quartered. For a century, animals also found their way into the gallows; in 1396 a pig accused of fatally injuring a child was dressed in the suit of a man and publicly hanged. Nearly four centuries have passed since the first documented lawful execution on American soil in 1608. The early ways of execution were adapted from the British, even though the colonies were thought to be more humane. In England burning at the stake, quartering, and disemboweling were still common place, hanging was the choice method of killing convicts in the colonies. However, the public hangings still had

the festive carnival atmosphere as they did in Europe. Lynching was an unofficial form of execution and was widespread in early America. 1,540 documented lynchings were performed at its peak in the 1890 s, during that time 1,098 authorized government executions were performed. It would seem that injecting someone with deadly chemicals would be less expensive than keeping them incarcerated for the rest of their life. The best studies on the cost of the death penalty show that it costs about two million dollars more per execution in a state with capital punishment than for a system that imposes life imprisonment. From 1994 to 1976 an extra cost of one billion dollars has been spent on the death penalty. The state of Ohio spent at least $1.5 million to kill Wilford Berry a mentally

ill man who wanted to be executed. In the end it would have cost half as much to keep him in prison for his entire life. From the days of slavery when African Americans were considered property, through the years of lynchings and Jim Crow laws, capital punishment has always been affected by race. Unfortunately, the days of racial bias in the death penalty have not come to an end and become a memory of the past. In 1980, Clarence Brandley was charged with the murder of a white high school girl and later exonerated in 1990. One of you two is going to hang for this. Since you re the nigger you re elected, a Texas police officer told Brandley while he was being arrested. Two studies were performed pertaining to racial discrimination and the death penalty. One was by two of the

country s best researchers on race and capital punishment, David Baldus and George Woodworth. They studied the likely hood of being sentenced to the death penalty based on race and discovered if you were an African American in Philadelphia being charged of a crime that a Caucasian was also being charged of, the African has a 38% greater chance of conviction. Professor Jeffrey Pokorak performed the second study. He discovered that the key decision-makers in death cases around the country are almost exclusively white. Virginia leads the country in the number of defense attorneys that are African Americans with eight out of 121 Defense Attorneys currently practicing. While Missouri is second only to Texas in the number of white defense attorneys there is no Hispanic or African