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Comparative Essay On The Death Penalty

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Robert B. Travis

Comp 1313

October 18, 2006

Death Penalty

The Argument over capital punishment is greatly carried out by Preservationist John O' Sullivan author of "Deadly Stakes", and abolitionist Hugo Beadu, author of "The case over the death penalty". Each other argues their point on if the death penalty is fallible, whether or not it is effective as a deterrent, and whether or not it's barbaric. Even though both authors provide a good argument, in the end it's the Author John O' Sullivan I agree with.

First, in Beadu's essay, he feels that execution in the states is barbaric. To support this claim Beadu, provides you with information of how Utah and Idaho, still use firing squads for execution which is erroneous in the way he provides the information. Then to prove that the death penalty is barbaric, he provides accounts of lethal injections and electrocutions that according to him didn't go as planned. In O'Sullivan's essay, he counters Beadu's view on barbarity by saying it is the only punishment that fits the crime. O' Sullivan states that" a cold blooded poisoning, say, or the rape and murder of a helpless child, or the mass murders of the Nazis and the Communist the only way to punish such crimes"(O' Sullivan 379). He also goes on to state" Significantly, such civilized nations as the Danes and the Norwegians, which had abolished the death penalty before the First World War, restored it after 1945 in order to deal equitable justice to the Nazis and their collaborators" (O'Sullivan 379). O' Sullivan goes on to show how abolitionist find it hard to reply to questions such as, "Was it Cruel, unusual, barbaric, uncivilized?" He illustrates this by saying Abolitionist often say that a lifetime in prison is worse than a quick trip to oblivion. Beadu seems to offer some pretty credible arguments but they falter upon closer examination. Beadu begins by pointing out the barbarity since Ohio and Idaho still use firing squads, which is only partially true. Utah, and Idaho, both still implement firing squads but its under two circumnstances. First is Utah, According to, "[U]tah -Lethal Injection is the sole method of execution. Firing squad was chosen by some inmates prior to the passage of legislation banning the practice, and is only available for those inmates"(Death Penalty Information center). Beadu trys to use Utah has a form of barbarity even though legislation banned the practice and the only way can a firing squad be used is if inmates requested the use of a firing squad. Second, is Idaho policy. Which According to "Idaho- Authorizes firing squad only if lethal injection is "impractical"(DPIC). Beadu's argument seems to be a sketchy way of outlining barbarity it's almost like he's desperate for arguments and try's to hide the actual truth to make his argument more appealing. Then, Beadu argues that is no way of knowing whether lethal injection is painless. According to lethal injection works in 3 stages.

1st Anesthetic - Sodium thiopental, , puts the inmate into a deep sleep this takes about 10-15 seconds to reach the brain. After this anesthetic is administered the patient doesn't feel anything.

Second, Paralyzing agent - Pancuronium bromide, also known as Pavulon, is a muscle relaxantthat is given in a dose that stops breathing by paralyzing the diaphragm and lungs. Conventionally, this drug takes effect in one to three minutes after being injected. Finally, Toxic agent (not used by all states) - Potassium chloride is given at a lethal dose in order to interruptthe electrical signaling essential to heart functions. This induces cardiac arrest.(DPIC)

This process proves Beadu wrong, the executioner doesn't feel any pain due to Sodium thiopental putting them to sleep.

Next, in Beadu's essay, he feels that the death penalty is not a crime deterrent. Beadu feels that for a punishment to be an effective deterrent it must be consistently and promptly employed. Beadu states that "[t]he threat of even the severest punishment will not deter those who expect to escape detection and arrest"(Beadu). He goes on to demonstrate this by providing you with information that " Gangland killings, air piracy, drive-by shootings, and kidnapping for ransom are among the graver felonies that continue to be committed because some individuals think they are too clever to get caught" (Beadu). Beadu also says that "If however severe punishment can deter crime, then long term imprisonment is severe enough to cause any rational person not to commit violent crimes." He goes on to provide statistical information such as " Death penalty states as a group do no have lower rates of criminal homicide than non-death penalty states. During the 1980's, death penalty states averaged an annual rate of 7.5 criminal homicides per 100,000 of population; abolition states averages a rate of 7" (Beadu). John O' Sullivan's essay argues Beadu's point by stating that the claim of no evidence is false. O' Sullivan provides a study done by a trio from Emory University which concluded " each execution deters other murders to the extent of saving between eight and twenty- innocent lives--with a best- estimate average of eighteen lives saved per execution"(O'Sullivan). O'Sullivan also provides that " Mr. Murray, one of members that conducted the survey, is himself an opponent of capital punishment on religious grounds; so he deserves particular credit for his intellectual honestly" (O'Sullivan).

In O' Sullivan's essay he provides statistics showing that the death penalty has a deterrent effect. O' Sullivan's provides research which supports this claim and is very hard to disapprove. Which leads to Beadu trying to counter his argument by trying to point out that serious crimes such as murders, drive by shootings, and kidnapping still happen. The problem with this argument is you can tell if crimes are being deterred or not. To do this you would have to ask individuals if they have ever thought about doing one of these crimes and ask them if the consequences such as the death penalty made them choose not to. This isn't plausible, people are not going to admit if they've thought about doing one of these crime. Beadu says "If however severe punishment can deter crime, then long term imprisonment is severe enough to cause any rational person not to commit violent crimes." This argument doesn't make



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