The Death Penalty Essay Sample

The Death Penalty Pages
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History

The history of death penalty is just as morbidly vibrant as the current debates about it.  According to the Death Penalty Information Center, a leading and often quoted non-profit organization that compiles and presents data on capital punishment, the “first established death penalty laws date as far back as the Eighteenth Century B.C. in the Code of King Hammaurabi of Babylon, which codified the death penalty for 25 different crimes.”[1]

The death penalty went on to figure strongly in the Hittite Code, Draconian Code of Athens, and Roman Law of the Twelve tablets, fourteenth, seventh and fifth century B.C, respectively. On the outset, the death sentences were meted out for all crimes and were executed by means of “crucifixion, drowning, beating to death, burning alive, and impalement.”[2] Jesus Christ, probably the best-known figure to perish under the death penalty, and his now historical crucifixion is the most well known example of the workings of capital punishment.

As the years progressed, so did the parameters, including the methods and frequency of death penalty.  The prevalence of executing people and what they were executed for changed with each passing century and was heavily dependent on how the reigning power viewed the practice.  This fluidity is highly evident in the following facts, extracted and paraphrased from the earlier mentioned-website. In tenth century Britain, hanging evolved to become the preferred method.  This practice was overturned in the next-century with the coming into power of William the Conqueror who forbade the execution of any criminals except during times of war.  This rather prudent practice did not last under the reign of Henry VIII in the sixteenth century, who is infamous for his many infidelities and abuses of power.  Under the authority of Henry VIII, it has been said that “as many as 72,000 people are estimated to have been executed. Some common methods of execution at that time were boiling, burning at the stake, hanging, beheading, and drawing and quartering. Executions were carried out for such capital offenses as marrying a Jew, not confessing to a crime, and treason.”[3]

            This rather hardcore and hyper application of capital punishment did not decrease in intensity in the next two centuries. “By the 1700s, 222 crimes were punishable by death in Britain, including stealing, cutting down a tree, and robbing a rabbit warren.”[4] The disproportionality of the crimes to the sentences translated into significant reforms to Britain’s laws on capital punishment. “Because of the severity of the death penalty, many juries would not convict defendants if the offense was not serious (…) From 1823 to 1837, the death penalty was eliminated for over 100 of the 222 crimes punishable by death.”[5]

Not surprisingly, given the “special” relationship between England and the United States of America, “Britain influenced America’s use of the death penalty more than any other country. When European settlers came to the new world, they brought the practice of capital punishment. The first recorded execution in the new colonies was that of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608. Kendall was executed for being a spy for Spain. In 1612, Virginia Governor Sir Thomas Dale enacted the Divine, Moral and Martial Laws, which provided the death penalty for even minor offenses such as stealing grapes, killing chickens, and trading with Indians.”[6] Much like contemporary USA where capital punishment practice varies from state to state, the death penalty laws in force during the days of early America varied from colony to colony.  During these times however, the more notable capital crimes, perhaps inherited from the legacy of brutality prevalent during the reign of Henry VIII, were  “offenses such as striking one’s mother or father, or denying the true God.”[7]

            Perhaps it was the ridiculous prevalence of lawful executions for the lightest of offenses that led to a reform movement that had for its one primary goal to abolish the death penalty.  The movement was appropriately dubbed as the “Abolitionist movement.”

According to Schabas (1997), “the abolitionist movement finds its roots in the writings of European theorists Montesquieu, Voltaire and Bentham, and English Quakers John Bellers and John Howard. However, it was Cesare Beccaria’s 1767 essay, On Crimes and Punishment that had an especially strong impact throughout the world. In the essay, Beccaria theorized that there was no justification for the state’s taking of a life. The essay gave abolitionists an authoritative voice and renewed energy, one result of which was the abolition of the death penalty in Austria and Tuscany.”[8]

The writings of Beccaria had infiltrated the minds of the American intellectuals and perhaps heavily attributed the growing abolitionist movement in the ‘new world’ which culminated into “the first attempted reforms of the death penalty in the U.S. occurred when Thomas Jefferson introduced a bill to revise Virginia’s death penalty laws. The bill proposed that capital punishment be used only for the crimes of murder and treason. It was defeated by only one vote.”[9] The movement was not to be derailed nor deterred by this huge failure.  In fact, in the succeeding years, the significant changes that are considered favourable to the accused or the convicted can be directly attributed the abolitionist movement.  No discussion of the death penalty would be complete or accurate without a parallel discussion on the successes and failures of this reform movement.

            By the nineteenth century, many American states “began to reduce the number of their capital crimes and built state penitentiaries. In 1834, Pennsylvania became the first state to move executions away from the public eye and carrying them out in correctional facilities.”[10] This created a trend and in a decade, other states started to follow suit.  “In 1846, Michigan became the first state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes except treason. Later, Rhode Island and Wisconsin abolished the death penalty for all crimes.”[11] At the turn of the century, the movement had escaped domestic borders and became an international pattern with countries like Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Portugal, Netherlands, and Venezuela.  Most recently, in 2006, the Philippines abolished capital punishment.  This clearly shows that the abolitionist movement has not died down from its humble beginnings centuries ago.  Amnesty International, the leading international non-profit organization is considered a big actor for the reform.  It calls for the universal abolition of the death penalty as it degrades human dignity.

            Returning to the discussion on history, however, reflects how the abolitionist movement led not to the overall-abolishment of capital punishment across the American states.  In a rather ironic turn of events during the nineteenth century, some federal governments in collaboration with their penitentiary systems explored more “human ways” to execute the convicted.  Gas chambers were built and the electric chair was brought into the picture.  New York was the first American state to employ the electric-chair method and this was soon adopted by other states.

The ‘compromise’ by the state authorities did not keep the abolitionists at bay for long.  “Although some states abolished the death penalty in the mid-Nineteenth Century, it was actually the first half of the Twentieth Century that marked the beginning of the “Progressive Period” of reform in the United States. From 1907 to 1917, six states completely outlawed the death penalty and three limited it to the rarely committed crimes of treason and first degree murder of a law enforcement official. However, this reform was short-lived. There was a frenzied atmosphere in the U.S., as citizens began to panic about the threat of revolution in the wake of the Russian Revolution. In addition, the U.S. had just entered World War I and there were intense class conflicts as socialists mounted the first serious challenge to capitalism. As a result, five of the six abolitionist states reinstated their death penalty by 1920.”[12]

This revival of the public approval for the death penalty lasted until the 1940s.  In the “1950s, public sentiment began to turn away from capital punishment. Many allied nations either abolished or limited the death penalty”[13] as well as during the “1960s [which] brought challenges to the fundamental legality of the death penalty (…) it was suggested that the death penalty was a ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment, and therefore unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment (…) contained an “evolving standard of decency that marked the progress of a maturing society.”[14]

            The period from the 1960s to the present times shows a dynamism in the issue of capital punishment that can only be comparable to the earlier movements, either for or against capital punishment.  Although the practice of death penalty has not been universally removed from the legal systems of the world, there has been considerable change, especially in the American system regarding how it is administered, atleast procedurally.  In the case of Witherspoon v. Illinois (1968) “the Supreme Court held that a potential juror’s mere reservations about the death penalty were insufficient grounds to prevent that person from serving on the jury in a death penalty case. Jurors could be disqualified only if prosecutors could show that the juror’s attitude toward capital punishment would prevent him or her from making an impartial decision about the punishment.”[15]

            In the next decades, the bulk of judicial decisions regarding the administration of capital punishment in the American Supreme Court ‘fine-tuned’ the existing statutes.  Some of the guidelines included the landmark decision embodied in Gregg v. Georgia (1976) where it allowed “the introduction of aggravating and mitigating factors in determining sentencing (…). In addition to sentencing guidelines, three other procedural reforms were approved by the Court in Gregg (…) The first was bifurcated trials, in which there are separate deliberations for the guilt and penalty phases of the trial. (…) Another reform was the practice of automatic appellate review of convictions and sentence. The final procedural reform from Gregg was proportionality review, a practice that helps the state to identify and eliminate sentencing disparities. Through this process, the state appellate court can compare the sentence in the case being reviewed with other cases within the state, to see if it is disproportionate.”[16]

            These decisions, although it made the employment of capital punishment as sentence subject to more stringent guidelines, still recognized the legality of the practice itself; a fact that did not sit well with the abolitionists, although they were slightly appeased by the ten-year moratorium (1967-1977) that suspended the death penalty.  This short-pause of lawful killings ended with the execution of Gary Gilmore by firing squad in Utah.

            1999, in the international arena, was a significant year in the history of capital punishment. The United Nations Human Rights Commission passed a resolution named “Supporting Worldwide Moratorium On Executions.” The subject resolution called on “countries which have not abolished the death penalty to restrict its use of the death penalty, including not imposing it on juvenile offenders and limiting the number of offenses for which it can be imposed.”[17]  Interestingly enough, there were ten countries, “including the United States, China, Pakistan, Rwanda and Sudan voted against the resolution.”[18] Although the United States did strongly opposed the resolution, it might have struck a chord because the “numbers of death sentences are steadily declining from 300 in 1998 to 143 in 2003.”[19]

            According to Amnesty International, “more than half of the countries in the international community have abolished the death penalty completely (…) for ordinary crimes. However, over 78 countries retain the death penalty, including China, Iran, the United States, and Vietnam all of which rank among the highest for international executions in 2003.[20]

American States and Capital Punishment 

            Among the fifty (50) American states, only twelve (12) do not have death penalty: Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin; and among those who allow capital punishment, no other state has a more vigorous application of it than Texas. It’s energetic practice of executing those who have been found guilty of a capital offense has unofficially earned itself the title of “Death Machine.” According to the Death Penalty Information Center “as of September 2006, Texas has conducted over 35% of the 1045 executions in the United States.  Only one commutation of a death sentence for humanitarian reasons has been granted since the death penalty was reinstated.”[21]

            In an article posted by the DPIC entitled Why is Texas #1 in Executions[22] this question is posed:Why do capital murder cases proceed through the Texas state court system with a speed unimaginable in other parts of the country?” The article explores the idea of Newton, a Texan lawyer who had offered the argument “that there are three procedures unique to the state’s judicial system that enable it to execute convicted murderers with astonishing frequency.”[23] The three reasons have been extracted from the original text and reproduced below:

  1. Texas’ appellate judges are elected to office and hence serve according to the pleasure of the public. Not surprisingly, they require a record of toughness on criminals in order to win re-election. Also, there are many indications that elected appellate judges generally are of a lesser quality than their appointed counterparts in other states (…) Additionally, Newton notes that these judges tend to dismiss habeas corpus appeals even in cases where there appears to be glaring unanswered questions about the defendant’s guilt.
  2. Texas does not have a public defender system for indigent defendants, and (…) relies upon court-appointed lawyers who likely do not have experience in capital murder defenses or appeals (…) capital murder cases are legion in Texas, and that, even in a death penalty appeal, bad lawyering is hard to prove. One decision, which turned down a defendant’s habeas appeal due to bad lawyering, concluded that “[t]he Constitution does not say that the lawyer has to be awake” during trial proceedings. (…)
  3. Until the early 1990s, Texas did not permit jurors to adequately consider mitigating evidence in the sentencing phase of a trial. Thus, there are a number of people currently on death row that may well not be there had information about their mental illness or youth been weighed.

The prevalence of executions sanctioned in Texas gave way to a variety of issues, most notable of which are cries of the Texan system as being arbitrary, racist and downright unfair.  The worst publicity of the Texan executing machine, among many, was the execution of one David Cruz (2000).  Although the crime that Cruz was convicted of was definitely heinous—abduction, rape and murder of a woman—cries of cruelty echoed when news leaked that Cruz was considered to be mentally retarded with an IQ of 63.  Excerpts of an article from the Cable News Network (CNN) is reproduced below:[24]

Despite pleas from death penalty opponents around the world, Texas on Wednesday executed a man said to be mentally retarded. (…) Cruz, 33, was sentenced to death for the 1988 abduction, rape and fatal stabbing of a 24-year-old woman stationed at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio. (…) The American Bar Association urged Texas Gov. George W. Bush to block Cruz’s execution because he has been diagnosed as being mentally retarded with an IQ of 63. Officials from France, Sweden and the European Union also wrote letters supporting Cruz. (…) The Texas Board of Pardons and Parole voted 18-0 this week against granting clemency to either Roberson or Cruz. (…) Cruz’s attorney, Jeff Pokorak, argued that a jury was not given enough information about his client’s lifelong mental impairment. Pokorak said Cruz could not read and had trouble understanding his Miranda warning when questioned by police. (…) Cruz took special education classes when he was in school, and had to repeat the seventh grade three times. (…) Texas is one of 25 states that allow the execution of retarded killers, while 13 other states have prohibited the practice. A bill outlawing the execution of someone whose IQ is below 65 stalled in the Texas Legislature this year, but may be reintroduced in the 2001 session. (…) A median IQ is 100 and an IQ under 70 is considered to be in the mentally retarded range, according to Deborah Spitalnik, chair of the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation. 

            Texas’ preferred method of execution is through administration of the ‘lethal injection.’ And although it rates the highest in the number of executions, its method has said to be vastly more ‘humane’ than other methods across the United States that are in force today: death by firing squad and hanging.

            Lethal Injection was first introduced as a means of execution in Oklahoma in 1977.  According to the DPIC, “37 of the 38 states that have the death penalty use this method.”[25] With this method the condemned person is injected with four solutions. The first is a harmless saline solution while the second is sodium thiopental. ST is an anaesthetic that induces sleep. “Next flows pavulon or pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes the entire muscle system and stops the inmate’s breathing. Finally, the flow of potassium chloride stops the heart. Death results from anaesthetic overdose and respiratory and cardiac arrest while the condemned person is unconscious.”[26]

            Another method of executing those condemned was introduced in New York in 1988: the electric chair.  It was the result of the aim to make the execution process as humane as possible. After its introduction, many states followed suit but later on changed to the method of lethal injection. In these contemporary times, only the state of Nebraska still uses this as its preferred method of execution.

“For execution by the electric chair, the person is usually shaved and strapped to a chair with belts that cross his chest, groin, legs, and arms. A metal skullcap-shaped electrode is attached to the scalp and forehead over a sponge moistened with saline. (…) An additional electrode is moistened with conductive jelly (Electro-Creme) and attached to a portion of the prisoner’s leg that has been shaved to reduce resistance to electricity. The prisoner is then blindfolded. After the execution team has withdrawn (…), the warden signals the executioner, who pulls a handle to connect the power supply. A jolt of between 500 and 2000 volts, which lasts for about 30 seconds, is given. The current surges and is then turned off, at which time the body is seen to relax. The doctors wait a few seconds for the body to cool down and then check to see if the inmate’s heart is still beating. If it is, another jolt is applied. This process continues until the prisoner is dead.”[27]

            An alternative method to the two earlier mentioned was introduced in 1924 by the state of Nevada, as like New York before it, sought an even more humane way of executing those convicted of a capital offense.  In a rather hilarious beginning, the state tried to pump cyanide gas into (…) [the] cell while he slept. This proved impossible because the gas leaked from his cell, so the gas chamber was constructed. Today, five states [Wyoming, California, Maryland, Missouri, and Arizona] authorize lethal gas as a method of execution, but all have lethal injection as an alternative method.” [28]

“For execution by this method, the condemned person is strapped to a chair in an airtight chamber. Below the chair rests a pail of sulfuric acid (…) crystals of sodium cyanide (…) [are released]. This causes a chemical reaction that releases hydrogen cyanide gas.(…) The prisoner is instructed to breathe deeply to speed up the process. Most prisoners, however, try to hold their breath, and some struggle. The inmate does not lose consciousness immediately. (…) The inmate dies from hypoxia, the cutting-off of oxygen to the brain.[29]

            Execution by firing squad is also another method, which is still in force in Idaho (although death by lethal injection is a possible alternative) “The most recent execution by this method was that of John Albert Taylor. By his own choosing, Taylor was executed by firing squad in Utah on January 26, 1996.”[30] This method entails strapping the condemned to a chair, while having a black hood over the head. A medical doctor then draws the literal bulls-eye on the person’s shirt to serve as target for the five shooters armed with .30 caliber rifles.  “The prisoner dies as a result of blood loss caused by rupture of the heart or a large blood vessel, or tearing of the lungs. The person shot loses consciousness when shock causes a fall in the supply of blood to the brain. If the shooters miss the heart, by accident or intention, the prisoner bleeds to death slowly.” [31]

            The last method to be discussed is that of Hanging, which is still used in Delaware and Washington (although like other states, lethal injection is a possible alternative). “…before the execution, the prisoner’s hands and legs are secured, he or she is blindfolded, and the noose is placed around the neck, with the knot behind the left ear. The execution takes place when a trap door is opened and the prisoner falls through. The prisoner’s weight should cause a rapid fracture-dislocation of the neck. However, instantaneous death rarely occurs. If the inmate has strong neck muscles, is very light, if the ‘drop’ is too short, or the noose has been wrongly positioned, the fracture-dislocation is not rapid and death results from slow asphyxiation. If this occurs the face becomes engorged, the tongue protrudes, the eyes pop, the body defecates, and violent movements of the limbs occur.”[32]

The Death Penalty Debate

“It is probably fair to conclude that over the last decade and a half, few issues have received greater attention in criminology and criminal justice than the proper role of capital punishment in this society.”[33]

Those who are for the continued application, and in some cases the reinstitution, of capital punishment heavily root their arguments on the issue of deterrence.  In a statement issued by Glen D. King in 1972 in front of the House of Representatives, he offered this viewpoint in defense of the Death Penalty: “…there is a direct relationship between the legal existence of capital punishment and the incidence of criminal homicide.  Although statistics are generally unreliable in this area, I am convinced that such a relationship exists. I am convinced that many potential murderers are deterred simply by their knowledge that capital punishment exists, and may be their fate if they commit the crime they contemplate.”[34] Ernest Van Den Haag, author of In Defense of the Death Penalty: A Practical and Moral Analysis, featured in the source book previously cited, also supports the ideas of King by stating that, “ Justice requires punishing the guilty—as many of them as possible—even if only some can be punished, and sparing the innocent—as many of them as possible, even if not all are spared.  Morally, justice must always be preferred to equality. (…) Justice cannot ever permit sparing some guilty persons, or punishing some innocent ones, for the sake of equality—because others have been unjustly spared or punished.”[35]

            In answer to these arguments of deterrence and proportional punishment, after all capital punishment is supposedly restricted to the most heinous of crimes and the most culpable of persons, abolitionists offer the opposite view.  Capital Punishment is not an effective deterring tool for crime “or anyway not a better deterrent than long-term imprisonment; that it impose[s] unreasonable risks on the possibility of executing the wrong persons; that [there is] a willingness to use it (…) to brutalize society; that it has never been administered in a morally unobjectionable manner; and that is mainly used against relatively defenseless members of minority groups.”[36] A strong advocate against the use of capital punishment has, ofcourse, been the church.  They have added a religious viewpoint on the matter by saying that human life, as it has been patterned in the image and likeness of God deserves dignity and respect and that only God has the power to rob someone of his life, even when convicted of heinous crimes.

            Personally, I am unconvinced at the arguments for both sides.  I do not support capital punishment for the reasons advocated by the abolitionists nor do I support it for the same reasons offered.  I do not support the death penalty because it is a waste of not only human life, but particularly, a waste of potentially productive human hands.  Allow me to illustrate my point.  Should the death penalty be removed from the American system entirely, the only option left would be lifetime imprisonment without the possibility of parole.  This would strain the resources of the states by having to build more penitentiaries with money that could be better spent on improving the police and emergency structure to keep people safer on the streets.  Therefore, I see another situation as an alternative: Death Penalty should be the choice of the condemned person.

            If the thought of death is unpalatable to the inmate, as it could understandably be, there should be a system of Death row livelihood put into place.  But instead of the inmates getting the revenues or even a portion of it, the money created should either be put back into the government system, using the funds to benefit causes like education that are definitely of more societal worth than expending money on killing these people.

            There are many non-threatening jobs that could be done by inmates from the safety of their own prison cells, like sorting mail or doing laundry.  This would create an entire labour force that supports itself.  Unlike slavery or involuntary servitude, these inmates have been found guilty of heinous crimes, none of which (ideally) would be of having the wrong skin-tone.  One of the main reasons for the existence of a penitentiary system is not merely to punish but also to rehabilitate those who have been found of being a danger to the rest of civilized society.  How then does killing them or keeping them incarcerated accomplish that? We would be making more animals than saving human beings.  By putting them to work, it would not only make the abolitionists happy but also the coffers of the state would get healthier. And more importantly, it cannot be involuntary servitude should the inmate opt to work instead of being injected with a deadly cocktail, or being electrocuted, hung or shot by a firing squad.

            Surely after years of human evolution, we can find a better, more intelligent way of punishing those that dare to wreak havoc and endanger the rest of civil society.

Works cited:

Bedau, H.ed. (1997) The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies, Oxford University

Press

Bohm, R. ed. (1991) The Death Penalty in America: Current Research. Anderson Publishing Co.

Ecenbarger,W. “Perfecting Death: When the state kills it must do so humanely. Is that

possible?,” The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, January 23, 1994.

Hillman, H. “The Possible Pain Experienced During Executions by Different Methods,” 22 Perception 745 (1992).

Schabas, W. (1997). The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law. Cambridge

University Press, second edition

Weisberg, J. This is Your Death The New Republic, July 1, 1991.

Electronic Sources:

Amnesty International. Statistics and Facts about Death Penalty.

http://web.amnesty.org/pages/deathpenalty-statistics-eng

CNN. Texas Executes Man Said to be Mentally Retarded.

http://archives.cnn.com/2000/LAW/08/09/texas.double.execution.03/ 

Death Penalty Information Center www.deathpenaltyinfo.org

DPIC. History of the Death Penalty. Part I. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=15&did=410#IntroductionoftheDeathPenalty

     DPIC. History of the Death Penalty. Part II. Limiting the Death Penalty. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=15&did=411

     DPIC. Individual State Information.  http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/state/

     DPIC. Why is Texas #1 in Executions? http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=17&did=358

DPIC. Methods of Execution. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=8&did=479

Michigan State University (MSU). Death Penalty Resources: History of the Death Penalty, Colonial Times. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.msu.edu/c/about/history/history-2.htm (March 28, 2007)

[1] DPIC. History of the Death Penalty. Part I. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=15&did=410#IntroductionoftheDeathPenalty (March 30, 2007)

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid.

[8] Schabas, W. (1997). The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law. Cambridge University Press, second edition

[9] Michigan State University (MSU). Death Penalty Resources: History of the Death Penalty, Colonial Times. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.msu.edu/c/about/history/history-2.htm (March 28, 2007)

[10] Schabas, W. (1997). The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law. Cambridge University Press, second edition

[11] ibid.

[12] Bedau, H.ed. (1997) The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies, Oxford University Press

[13] Bohm, R. ed. (1991) The Death Penalty in America: Current Research. Anderson Publishing Co.

[14] ibid.

[15] Michigan State University (MSU). Death Penalty Resources: History of the Death Penalty, Colonial Times. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.msu.edu/c/about/history/history-2.htm (March 28, 2007)

[16] ibid.

[17] DPIC. History of the Death Penalty. Part II. Limiting the Death Penalty. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=15&did=411 (March 30, 2007)

[18] ibid.

[19] ibid.

[20] Amnesty International. Statistics and Facts about Death Penalty. http://web.amnesty.org/pages/deathpenalty-statistics-eng (March 30, 2007)

[21] DPIC. Individual State Information.  http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/state/  (March 29, 2007)

[22] DPIC. Why is Texas #1 in Executions? http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=17&did=358 (March 29,2007)

[23] ibid.

[24] CNN. Texas Executes Man Said to be Mentally Retarded. http://archives.cnn.com/2000/LAW/08/09/texas.double.execution.03/ (March 28, 2007)

[25] DPIC. Methods of Execution. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=8&did=479 (March 28, 2007)

[26] W. Ecenbarger, “Perfecting Death: When the state kills it must do so humanely. Is that possible?,” The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, January 23, 1994.

[27] Hillman, H. “The Possible Pain Experienced During Executions by Different Methods,” 22 Perception 745 (1992).

[28] DPIC. Methods of Execution. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=8&did=479 (March 28, 2007)

[29] Weisberg, J. This is Your Death The New Republic, July 1, 1991.

[30] DPIC. Methods of Execution. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=8&did=479 (March 28, 2007)

[31] Weisberg, J. This is Your Death The New Republic, July 1, 1991.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Bohm, R. ed. (1991) The Death Penalty in America: Current Research. Anderson Publishing Co.

[34] Bedau, H.ed. (1982) The Death Penalty in America. Oxford University Press.

[35] ibid.

[36] ibid.

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