Justice cannot be served until the debate on capital pun­ishment is resolved and all states have come to agree that the death penalty is the best way to stop crime completely. “The bottom line is, one method of execution is just as brutal and as barbaric as the next,” says Mr. Breedlove of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. This comes straight from the mouth of a member of a national organization against capital punishment. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition defines execution as The act or an instance of putting to death or being put to death as a lawful penalty. So if Breedlove’s words hold true, then what he believes is that someone going out and killing someone is barbaric. In a sense isn’t that what he’s saying, that one way of killing someone is just as bad as any other. So if he finds this so barbaric, why doesn’t he do something about it?

Many people who are against capital punishment are only thinking of the criminal and how cruel it is for them. But, shouldn’t we think of the families that are broken apart now because of the merciless acts of these criminals. Think of Susan Smith, how she knowingly drove her car off into a lake with her two children strapped to the seats. Think of how they must have felt as the cold water started to fill the cabin of the car, and then ultimately drown them. Barbaric is ex­actly the word I would use to describe her actions. But yet, the jury rejected the death penalty and chose a life sentence instead. Mr. Smith, the father of the two children, broken up from the ruling said “Me and my family are disappointed that the death penalty was not the verdict, but it wasn’t our choice. They returned a verdict they thought was justice”.

But was it justice that she was not put to death for kill­ing her two children. How could someone possibly let her off the hook of such a crime. They said it would be just as bad for her to be in that cell alone because of her depression, but does it justify her cutting short the lives of the two children who had no idea of their oncoming death. “All grandeur, all power, and all subordination to authority rests on the executioner: he is the horror and the bond of human association. Remove this incomprehensible agent from the world and at that very moment order gives way to chaos, thrones topples and society disappears.” Says Joseph de Maistre, an eighteenth century French diplomat. He is right, if we give up our punishing a deadly criminal, then we throw our society into chaos and let the criminals freely do as they please. I would know I was safe if anyone that tried to fatally harm me would be put to death. But in this society when someone can kill someone, get sentenced to life, get paroled and then freed to go about and do the same crime again frankly scares me. Another thing that scares me is the fact that this country has softened up on criminals. It’s hard to think that now a day’s everyone has a right, even though when you go against the law and are put in prison, you are suppose to be stripped of your rights. Not so anymore. Justice in the nineties has slacked up a bit. “In the late 1950’s, on any given day there were about two hundred prisoners awaiting execution,” says Hugo Bedau of Tufts University, Massachusetts. “Hardly any remained on Death Row for more than a year.” Today [November 1995], there are 15 times that number, and many have been there for over a decade. Opponents of the death penalty say this statistic is a moral outrage. Supporters see it as undermining a key advan­tage of the death penalty over life imprisonment: it saves tax­payers the huge cost of keeping murderers locked up (Matthews, pg.’s 38-42). Most of those against capital pun­ishment argue that the forms of execution are gruesome. While some might be seen that way at first, others offer the advan­tages that both parties can agree on. In 1994 there were two hundred fifty seven executions in the United States. There were five methods of doing so, as follows. Hanging

Firing Squad

Lethal Injection


Gas Chamber

Electric Chair

First used in New York in 1890 and still in use in 13 states, “old sparky” was the horrific outcome of Thomas Edison’s attempt to show the dangers of the AC power sup­ply being promoted by his rivals. The condemned is strapped to a wooden chair, electrodes are attached, and a shock of thirty thousand watts is applied. The prisoner is literally cooked internally, and death may require multiple shocks.

Gas Chamber

First used in Nevada in 1921, the gas chamber is an air­tight room with a chair into which the accused is strapped. Death is caused by exposure to cyanide gas, produced when sodium cyanide is dropped into sulfuric acid. The suffering caused is deliberate and plain to see: writhing, vomiting, shak­ing and gasping for breath for many seconds. This horren­dous technique is used only in a few US states.

Lethal Injection

Introduced in the US in 1977 and now in use in 23 states, this is the most widespread method and arguably the most humane. The condemned is strapped to a table and injected with sodium thiopentone, losing consciousness in 10 to 15 seconds. This is followed by pancuronium bromide, which blocks respiration, and finally potassium chloride to stop the heart (Matthews, pg.’s 38-43).

While electrocution is obviously not the most painless way to execute someone, it does offer a deterrent for future crime. I know that I personally would not murder anyone if I knew that I would be executed with the electric chair. Such a deterrent keeps most people safe as they go about in their lives.

But does it do any good? Does executing someone for such crimes actually prevent future occurrences? Some would say no, others would say yes, but me I have the notion that in some cases yes, but in others no. I say this because, unlike in the nineteenth century, we do not make our executions as public as they did. We do not take the criminal and hang them in the streets where everyone can see them. Or we are not like over in Europe where they would execute the criminal in broad daylight and with the entire town around. It was a fanfare ritual back then. Now it is just an unseen deed done at pris­ons. We should bring it back into the open so that everyone can see the consequences of your crimes. When they execute someone with the electric chair they usually wait until close to midnight because then they know that not too many people will be using electricity as the chair needs thirty thousand watts, or the equivalent of four hundred seventy-five watt light bulbs turning on at the same time. And it needs more than one shock, so it drains a massive amount of electricity from the power company.

What if they were to go back to the old days? Then the deterrent factor would most definitely rise because of the publicly displayed execute of the criminals. It would send out the signal that anyone who can commit the crime can also pay for it. That’s the main reason for the death penalty anyway, to tell every criminal and future criminal that you’ll have to pay for your crimes that you commit.

As Robert Matthews journalism for Focus an English magazine once wrote, “Some people argue that the absence of capital punishment in this country [England] is the mark of a civilized society. I believe we are rapidly becoming un­civilized. Some of the things that happen on our streets and in people’s homes certainly do not constitute civilized behavior.” (Matthews, pg.’s 38-42)

That exact same quote can be used to describe our na­tion as well. Some will argue that the capital punishment is such a harsh and uncivilized way of treating criminals, but look at how they act. They do not care about the lives of those they have destroyed. They are the ones that make this nation uncivilized. They are the ones that are the most uncivilized individuals in this entire country. If anything, the death pen­alty is not enough. It can never bring back the loved ones to the families that have lost them. It can never bring back the innocent lives that have been taken in cold blood.

Capital punishment must be the standard by which each and every state must abide by. If we cannot join together and defeat crime, it will most certainly take us over. We can no longer sit and let our lives be terrorized. No longer can we sit back and watch criminals be released and then kill again. No longer must we Americans or anyone live our lives in fear. We must come together and draw the line on crime. We must make the world safe so that we and our children may once again live in a world without the fear of being senselessly killed or losing our loved ones. For a cold blooded killer, capital punishment is the only true justice.