The Texas Death Penalty Essay Research Paper

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The Texas Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper The Death Penalty in Texas Few issues in the United States today are as emotionally charged and controversial as the death penalty. Formally know as capital punishment, the death penalty has been hotly debated not only as a legal issue, but as a religious, ethical, and political one, historically as well as in the present day. Although many states currently administer the death penalty, Texas has been put in the spot light this past year because of the recent presidential race. The moral question of whether or not it is right to kill another human being is ever-present in today’s society. However, when looking at it from a political standpoint, one must also consider whether or not it is even legal. After looking at a

combination of Supreme Court rulings and individual Texas laws, one must conclude that it is perfectly legal to carry out a death penalty sentence. However, there are a number of things Texas could do to improve their capital punishment system. Thirty-eight states presently allow the death penalty. Alaska, Main, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Dakota, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia do not. Texas and California lead the other states with 400 convicts on death row. Texas leads the nation in the number of executions since the death penalties revival in 1976 (Stewart 85). The death penalty is legal according to a Supreme Court ruling, Gregg vs. Georgia. In the ruling, the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty is

not cruel and unusual punishment. It was ruled that it is not in violation with the Constitution as long as “guided discretion” was used (Almonte 7). In many cases, petitioners have tried to reverse decisions by petitioning and holding up gruesome signs of a man “frying”; usually with his eye-balls popping out and blood running down his face. However, this is a very non-factual picture. There is very little to no blood in electrocutions. Secondly, the method of choice is currently lethal injection. In response to those who fondly quote the eighth amendment, the Constitution actually makes reference to the death penalty not one, but twice. The first occurrence is in the fifth amendment of the Bill of Rights, which says that, “no person shall be held to answer for a

capital…crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury… nor be deprived of life… without due process of law” (Stewart 21). In other words, the Constitution is specifying that the death penalty may be used, but warns that there are certain stipulations that must first be met. The second mentioning is in the Fourteenth Amendment which says states shall not, “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process” (Stewart 22). Once again, the same law regarding the death penalty is passed on to the states. In either case, the constitution is permitting the death penalty, but stating that there must be a due process in which the verdict is made. The death penalty was legalized in Texas in 1923. It was instituted as an alternative to lynching

and county level executions. Since Texas was a rather prejudice state, lynching were common after the abolition of slavery. After the death penalty was instituted, the number of lynchings was significantly reduced (Bright 1). The new capital punishment statute took effect the morning of February 8, 1924. At 12:09 A.M. Charles Reynolds walked through the door to the electrocution chair, was strapped in by the guards, and because the first man executed in the state of Texas. Reynolds was pronounced dead at 12:16 after three jolts of electricity. After Reynolds, there was a quick succession of inmates sentenced to die that night. Ewell Morris, George Washington, and Mack Mathews followed, and Melvin Johnson was granted a one hour stay of execution. He receive no further reprieves,