Capital Punishment PPT

Capital Punishment in
The United States
Capital Punishment (the death penalty) is a legal option
for sentencing in 32 states. The federal government and
the military also allow for death sentences.
Texas leads the nation with the
highest number of executions.
Oklahoma has the most
executions per capita.
Some states have the death penalty, but do
not use it in practice. These states are said
to have a “moratorium”.
Kansas and New Hampshire have
not used the death penalty since
Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Oregon, and
New Mexico have only executed prisoners
who have dropped their appeals and
“volunteered” to be executed.
Murder and Executions
Capital punishment is statistically unusual. There
is one execution for every 700 murders. There is
one execution for every 325 murder convictions.
Over 98% of those
executed are men.
Race and Death
Since 1976, 34% of those executed were black. In
2010, blacks made up only 13% of the U.S. population.
The race of the victim is significant.
Eighty percent of executions involved a
White murder victim. This occurs even
though murders of Black and White
victims are nearly equal.
Mental Anguish
The condemned prisoner is under
extreme mental pressures as the
judicial process can last for years.
The suicide rate of those on death
row is about 10x higher than the
general population.
Public executions are considered to be a violation of
the Eighth Amendment. However, every state that
has the death penalty allows for witnesses including
representatives of the victim, the condemned and
the media.
Filming or pictures of executions are not
allowed, but closed circuit television has been
used when there are too many witnesses.
Historically, methods of execution in the United States
or the colonies included hanging, firing squad, gas
chamber, burning, electrocution, drowning or crushing.
Past executions have often been specific to cultural beliefs.
Drowning was once an accepted
punishment for witches.
In Utah, the firing squad
was once considered an
appropriate method due
to the doctrine of “blood
Currently, the first choice method in each
state is lethal injection, but many states
have backup methods including electric
chair, gas chamber, and hanging.
In 1972, the Supreme Court
(Furman v. Georgia) ruled that
executions violated the Eighth
Amendment because there was
too much inconsistency as to who
received it. The Supreme Court did
not say that executions themselves
were unconstitutional.
Between 1972 and 1976 there was a moratorium on executions while
states rewrote their death penalty laws to make them narrower.
In general the court must find a
person guilty of a crime for which
the death penalty is prescribed
(eligibility). Secondly, the court
must select the death penalty in a
(usually) separate phase for
The lethal injection protocol has been challenged in court,
but the Supreme Court ruled that it was not a violation of
the Eighth Amendment in Baze v. Rees (2008).
The ruling upheld Kentucky’s lethal injection
protocol which used the same drugs used in all
states that had lethal injection at the time.
This protocol uses three drugs…
1. The first drug puts the condemned to sleep
2. The second drug paralyzes lung function
3. The third drug stops the heart.
More recently, lethal injection has been
challenged not by the courts, but by nations
and companies that have refused to sell drugs
for the purposes of execution or torture.
This has slowed the number of
executions in many states while
others have began trying different
methods (drugs) in their executions.
Opponents to execution say that…
Other nations are no longer using the death penalty
Execution itself is “cruel and unusual”
The condemned may feel pain but be unable to express it
Sometimes executions are botched when needles are
poorly placed
Proponents of execution point out that…
• Western civilization has a long history of using the death penalty
• Medical science has shown the drugs to be quick and reliable
• The Supreme Court has not ruled against executions in general

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