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Eng581 Capital Punishment Is a Violation of Human Rights

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Jennifer Dasilva

Dr. Butler

May 5, 2019

ENG 581

Capital Punishment is a Violation of Human Rights

The death penalty is a violation of human rights and privacy to every citizen around the world. Various countries around the globe including the United States practice capital punishment. The 14th amendment of the United States’ constitution states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” People living in the United States have a constitutional right to live. If people are guaranteed the right to life why does the United States practice things such as capital punishment? Capital punishment is defined as the legally authorized killing of someone as punishment for a crime. In the United States, the prison system is privatized. Due to the privatized nature of the prison system, there is a profit in having more people within the prison system.

Notwithstanding the large numbers of persons within the system, there include disproportionate numbers of minorities within the system. It is important to note that the biases and inequalities in the prison system create a state of uncertainty where not everyone in prison is guilty. The uncertainties raise the question of how humans can sentence others to death with a large number of uncertainties. Capital punishment is not limited to the United States but rather, is carried out in many countries around the world although the similarities in there remain differences in legal standards, human and constitutional rights and ways to carry trial in regards to different countries and states around the world.

Similarly, the bureaucracy of prison institutions varies on a global scale. Copious amounts of controversy surround capital punishment. Despite the crime, the idea of allowing humans to decide who lives and who dies is not only egregious but it is a violation of human rights, interferes with international treaties and sets the wrong precedent.

This paper gives a brief history of capital punishment within the United States. Then it provides a historical overview of how it is done, what states and countries adhere to this practice. Next, it shines a light on a modern-day case involving capital punishment. The paper uses the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights document. The document is used as an argument to protect human life and depict how inhumane capital punishment is. This paper will lastly touch on the moral aspect related to the death penalty and how it sets a precedent that allows human to be the deciding factor in who lives and who dies.

    Capital punishment was established in the United States during the colonial period. The death penalty was practiced differently depending on the colony. One of the turning points that led to a revision of capital punishment as well as the establishment of a moral framework was that the United States was the 1776 Declaration of Independence. Although did not abolish the death penalty, this document made it so that the death sentence would only be applied to high-level crimes such as murder. Within the twentieth century, there were strides made through court cases and civil society regarding how capital punishment should be carried out. Individual states strived to find humane ways to carry out capital punishment, therefore opposing execution styles such as to hanging and electrocution. In 1924 states such as Nevada implemented methods such as lethal gas. Court cases began to set a precedent on what was legal in terms of the constitution. In 1958, there was a legal challenge to the constitution. In this instance, the case of Torp vs. Dulles set the precedent that the death penalty was against the constitution because it violates the 8th amendment which was cruel and unusual punishment. As of May 2019, thirty states still practice the death penalty.

There have been a series of court cases that have altered the way states carry out, trial, and overall practice the death penalty. For example, the 1977 court case Coker v. Georgia set the precedent that the death penalty for a rapist was unconstitutional if the woman did not die. Another example is the 1986 case of Ford vs. Wainwright that set the precedent that execution of an insane convict is unconstitutional. Lastly, in 2008 Baze vs. Reeze stated that using sodium thiopental during lethal injections is constitutional.

Capital punishment is carried out in various ways. The methods differ from state to state as well as country to country. Some of the methods include but are not limited to lethal injection, electrocution, poisonous gas, hanging and a firing squad. How capital punishment is carried out differs depending on state/country rule, the crime, and other factors. Despite the longevity of its use within the United States, execution has been banned in specific states as well as individual countries throughout the world.  Similar to other crimes and sentences wrong accounts of death penalty cases have taken place. The differences between these cases and other cases are that if there is a wrongful conviction for other cases, then the person/people have a chance to fight for their rights through a series of appeals. Depending on the crime, people in jail also have the opportunity to end their sentence early through things such as good behavior or have the option of parole. The issue is that the people on trial do not have the opportunity to get out early on good behavior or to get out with the option of parole. The people on death row are allowed to appeal but, if their appeal is rejected they are still on track to be executed whether they are rightfully or wrongfully convicted, these people do not have a chance to make their life right because their experience is being taken from them.

[pic 1]

Figure 1

Figure 1 depicts a visual representation of the number of executions in the United States since 1976.

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Figure 2        

Figure 2 displays the number of people that have been executed in the United States post colonization.

[pic 3]

Figure 3

The image displays the number of death row exonerations that occurred from 1973-2011. The image gives a visual representation of the people that were found not guilty after having been sentenced to death. The image is symbolic to analyzing the errors and biases that are bound to occur within the criminal justice system.



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