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The Death Penalty Should be Illegal

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

I’m starting this off with the acknowledgement that this is my opinion. The Lance does not have an objective opinion on this matter, and this doesn’t represent what The Lance stands for. With that being said, I think the death penalty is unconstitutional and should be made illegal throughout the United States.

Last year, I was taking AP Government (the hardest class I’ve ever taken, to this day), and became heavily interested in the debate of the death penalty. The death penalty, according to Oxford Languages, is “the punishment of execution, administered to someone legally convicted of a capital crime.” This is also known as “capital punishment,” and formerly known as “judicial homicide.” I feel as if they changed the name to seem more passive, even if that is exactly what it is, but I digress.

I watched a video of a staged lethal injection. You can find this video on YouTube with the hashtag “DeathPenaltyFail.” Regardless of the fact that this was staged, it was detailed down to the actors yelling and screaming in pain that real people experience. It caused me to research what actually happens during a lethal injection, and the video was incredibly accurate.

A dark room with a table and restraints, where the criminal may lay and be murdered.
The room where Oklahoma performs lethal injections

The “doctors” that perform the injections, seemingly the calmest punishment of them all, don’t have medical degrees. In fact, they barely even have schooling. All they need is a medical certificate and a general knowledge of where a needle can and cannot go. The “doctor” is covered in medical scrubs, medical face mask, hairnet, and gloves to hide their person. Most of the people administering the injections insert the needle incorrectly, leaving the criminal in much more pain than necessary.

Of course, this brings up a very common question: “Scott, what if this criminal had murdered your mom? Wouldn’t you want them to suffer?” The answer is plain and simple: facts over feelings.

Of course, your natural instinct is to say “yes, this person needs to suffer,” but there is a large percentage of people in prisons who didn’t commit the crimes they were convicted of, and absolutely do not deserve to die as horribly as these people do.

The injections begin after the criminal says their last words. The first few injections are to prepare the criminal for less pain: typically numbing agents, and then a sedative to knock them unconscious, Midazolam. A second chemical, Vecuronium Bromide, is administered to paralyze the criminal. The “doctor” then checks to make sure the criminal is unconscious, and goes to administer the chemical that kills them, Potassium Chloride. This is where things typically go wrong, because if the “doctor” didn’t check correctly, put the needle in incorrectly, or administered the chemicals incorrectly, the criminal is still conscious, they just cannot move. The criminal will make disturbing noises until the heart is stopped, making the ordeal traumatic for both parties watching, and the criminal’s last moments alive in more pain than most people can fathom.

A chamber with a black chair and many restraints to hold the criminal down, with lights on top and holes in the walls to administer the lethal gas.
Gas chamber used currently for the death penalty

This is just one of the many ways you can be legally murdered by the government, if you live that long. It typically takes 30 years to reach that point, and it costs more money to do this than to keep them in prison for the rest of their lives. Death penalty costs $1.26 million, and just keeping someone incarcerated for their whole life costs around $750,000. You can get many punishments that are not deemed unconstitutional by the federal government, but are deemed unconstitutional by state governments. In the US, you can get hanged, electrocuted, shoved in a gas chamber, have a firing squad unload countless bullets into you, and lethally injected. Funny how it’s unconstitutional in some states, but fine by the Supreme Court.

My last point is how it goes against the eighth amendment, which states “[e]xcessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” I, as well as many others, believe that all of these options of murder are cruel and/or unusual as a “punishment.”

This is the wrong option for everybody. It is cruel, it is unusual, it is torturous, and it forces the criminal to spend their last moments in unimaginable pain. Nobody should be forced to succumb to this.

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