According to McCafferty (2009), capital punishment is the lawful inflict of death as a punishment for gross violation of law. He notes that this death penalty practice has been used since the sixteenth century. For instance, the infliction of death penalty was widely practiced during the American colonies in 1608 especially in the colony of Jamestown. It was also widely used in the eighteenth century in America during the Revolutionary War. According to him, the end of Revolutionary War has been viewed as the beginning of institutionalization of the death penalty as various colonies began to institutionalize capital punishment in their constitution which inflicted death penalty to crimes such as rape, robbery, murder and forgery of public securities.

Capital punishment involves various methods. According to Pesto & Melusky; lethal injection, electrocution, hanging, gas chamber, and firing squad have been the authorized capital punishment methods that are commonly practiced by various states. They point out that various states have their preferred methods of capital punishment from which the inmates may be allowed to choose. Pesto & Melusky (2011) observes that of the 37 states and federal governments that currently practice capital punishment, lethal injection execution method has been the majorly used methods of execution. However, they point out that some states like the Nebraska solemnly provide electrocution method as the only method of execution.

According to McCafferty (2009), capital punishment has elicited controversial arguments over its advantage and its effectiveness in deterring serious crimes. He notes that people have been drawn into two distinct sides of either for or against capital punishment. He points out that those who support capital punishment base their arguments on the low cost of the practice, its advocacy for real punishment as well as its effectiveness in deterring future serious crimes. On the other hand, he notes that people who are against capital punishment normally base their arguments on the cruelty of the execution methods as these methods are against the human rights.

The write up in highlighting capital punishment analyzes the various methods used for the execution of death penalty. It also highlights various arguments on the merits and demerits of capital punishment.

Methods of Capital Punishment

As pointed out by Pesto & Melusky (2011), lethal injection is one of the methods used in the execution of death penalty. They point out that procedural execution by lethal injection entails the administration of a standardized quantity of dangerous substances mainly a combination of ultra short-acting barbiturate with chemical paralytic into an inmate. This continues until his or her death. They observe that in most cases, lethal injection normally comprises of injection of three drugs. First is the injection of barbiturate drug such as sodium pentothal that is intended to induce anesthesia into the inmate. After this a second a chemically paralytic drug such as the pancuronium bromide is injected into an inmate to cause muscle relaxation thereby paralyzing the diaphragm and lungs. Finally, a cardiac arrest chemical substance like the potassium chloride is injected which then leads to the instant death of the inmate. They note that each stage of substance injection is characterized by enduring and intense pain.

Pesto & Melusky (2011) point out that execution by lethal injection was first proposed in 1888 in New York that was later adopted by various states. For instance, lethal injection was first adopted by Oklahoma State in 1977 after which it was first used as execution method in Texas during the execution Charlie Brooks. They note that 16 out of the 37 states and federal governments have deployed lethal injection as their current method of execution.

Electrocution is another method of capital punishment used in the infliction of death penalty. According to Bohm (2011), execution by electrocution entails the passing of sufficient intensity of electricity on the body of an inmate so as to cause his or her death. He points out that the procedural component of electrocution entails trapping of the inmates into the wooden chairs which ensures that their body part securely trapped and connected with the electric electrodes.  They note that normally, wet sponge is placed between the body parts of the inmates and the electric electrode which ensures that sufficient electric current is passed into the inmate’s body. After which, electricity which ranges from 2,300 volts for eight seconds to 1,000 volts for 22 seconds is administered repeatedly until the inmate is dead.

According to Bohm (2011), electrocution execution method was first adopted in New York in 1888 but was later emulated and adopted by other states. However, he points out that the failure of the method to cause death of the inmates without repeated shocks in certain cases has seen most states replace this method with lethal injection execution method.  

Another method that has been used in capital punishment is that of a lethal gas. According to Pesto & Melusky (2011), as early as 1924, the subjection of offenders to intense lethal gas chambers has been used as a death penalty method. They note that the execution using lethal gas entails the retraining of the inmate in a steel airtight execution chamber under the administration of lethal gases. They point out that in the steel airtight chamber; the inmate is subjected to sulfuric acid solutions which produces lethal gases causing the death of the inmates. It normally depends on how long the inmates are able to hold their breath. According to Pesto & Melusky (2011), the execution of inmates by lethal gas has been cited by other states as an effective way of execution. Thus most states have proffered the method to the other capital punishment methods. For instance, the states of Arizona and California among others have solemnly preferred the execution of inmates using the lethal gas as oppose to other execution methods.

Hanging is also another capital punishment method that is continuously being used by various states. Pesto & Melusky (2011) point out that during execution by hanging, hood is placed on the inmate’s head with a noose sluggishly placed around his or her neck. Since the gallows are normally elevated, the inmate is then subjected to drop effect which ensures that the rope strangle him or her to death.  They note that hanging method got condemnation and criticism especially in the twentieth century which has seen the practiced being substituted by electrocution execution method. However, some states including Delaware, Washington, and New Hampshire still deploy hanging as a method of death penalty.

Finally, firing squad is another capital punishment method that has been deployed in the execution of offenders. According to Pesto & Melusky (2011), firing squad entails the shooting of an offender at a close range by three to six shooters. They note that normally, the offenders are restrained into chairs which ensure that their bodies are securely trapped with their necks and heads placed in an upright position. It involves the covering of the offenders’ heads by hoods after being given a chance to pronounce their last statement. They are then fired to death. The scholars point out that this method of execution is still evident in China and other states like the Utah and Oklahoma.

Arguments on Capital Punishment

The debate on capital punishment has spitted scholars into two groups. While some have supported the argument stating that capital punishment is an effective crime preventive mechanism others have criticized this method of punishing crime arguing that it is against the human rights.  For instance, White (2008) in her supporting arguments towards the death penalty practice points out that capital punishment is essential in deterring future gross violation of laws either by committing murder or terrorism activities. She notes that atrocious crimes such as murder are committed in any society which violates the human dignity and rights and in such cases, societies tend to deploy stronger punishments which include death penalty so as to prevent the recurrence of such criminal activities. The use of death penalty has proven to reduce the number of murder cases as most people fear the execution process that is entailed in the capital punishment.

For instance, White (2008) points out that the research conducted by various criminologists in analyzing the impact of death penalty on the rate of murder has shown positive effect of capital punishment in reducing the rate of murder in a society. She points out that the research showed that for every executed inmate, seven lives were spared since other offenders who feared death penalty were relenting from committing murder. She notes that inflicting death penalty as a capital punishment in deterring future crimes not only creates fear among offenders to commit the same crime but it also eliminates those criminal offenders who might commit the same act in future. However, she points out that capital punishment is only effective in deterring criminal activities if death penalty is virtually and certainly executed.  

Capital punishment has gained support from other scholars based on its retribution nature. According to Melissa (2006), those who support capital punishment normally argues that death penalty normally ensure that those who commit atrocious crimes like murder also face the same penalty so as to balance the justice system. She points out that taking someone’s’ life in a society normally creates imbalance justice system which if not properly restored can lead violence. According to her, deploying a life for a life justice process which is the main basis of capital punishment proves to be the most convenient way of not only restoring the society’s justice processes, but in convincing the members of the society of the intolerable nature of such atrocious crime in the society.

Melissa (2006) points out that victims of murder normally emulate justice system where the execution process justifies the content and magnitude of crime committed.   She notes that, even though both the victims and their respective families are unable to restore the status quo that was created before the murder, they feel that executing the offenders of the same magnitude of the crime they had committed not only deter future crimes, but it also enhances the justice system for the victims.

However, various dissenting arguments against capital punishment have been actively voiced by various scholars. According to Melissa (2006), capital punishment is a cruel and unusual method of administering justice system which only violates the human rights. She notes that most of the methods that are deployed by states in enforcing capital punishment are cruel and inhumane. She argues the contrary to the arguments that capital punishment deters future crime; atrocious crimes are still eminent in the society. Melissa (2006) points out that capital punishment as a justice process seems to take more lives than restore lives among people by primarily violating the human rights and dignity. For instance, she points out that, at times murderers outweigh the possibility of being persecuted for death penalty before committing murder.

The capital punishment has been argued as the most expensive justice process that continues to invade the tax payers. According to Melissa (2006), the cost incurred in capital punishment is more expensive compared to the cost of imprisoning the inmates. She notes that, even though the execution of offenders is quick and simple, the capital punishment system is far more complex and expensive. According to her capital punishment cases are normally more expensive to carry out due to the nature of price at stake and life of the accused. For instance, appealing of a death sentence normally deprives taxpayers of approximately $ 275,000 for each capital trial so as to pay both the defenders and prosecutors in the appealing processes (Melissa, 2006).  Furthermore, she points out that capital punishment normally cost the state approximately 38 percent more than imprisoning the inmates.

Another argument against capital punishment has been based on the unfairness of the practice in administering justice process. According to White (2008), capital punishment has been viewed as inappropriate justice administering system as it has not only undermined the poor who are incapable of attaining expensive legal representatives, but it has also affected the justice system based on racial, ethnic and religious influence. Melissa (2006) points out that in most cases, the capital punishment is based on irrational factors that include the quality of legal representative, the location of the crime and either the race, ethnicity or religion of both the defendants and victims. She points out that most of the defendants lose their cases and therefore executed because they are unable to afford their own legal representative. She notes that, in most cases the attorney’s office delays appealed cases not only to inflict more cost to the defendants, but also to fully exploit irrational factors such as the criminal’s race that helps them in winning cases.  

According to Unnever & Cullen (2008), capital punishment is at times characterized by racial biasness as death sentences are far more likely to be pronounced in cases where the white people are murdered than in the cases where black people are murdered. They note that in most cases the states which practice capital punishment has been viewed to value the lives of the white people as opposed to the black people. For instance, the various studies that have been conducted have shown that for murders whose victims are white people are ten times likely to be sentenced to death than those murders whose victims are black people (Unnever & Cullen, 2008). This has led to various enactment of equal protection clauses that ensure equitable administration of justice in the United States in an attempt to correct this biasness.


In conclusion, the write up has highlighted capital punishment as the process which has been used ever since in the administration of justice especially for atrocious crimes. The paper has noted the various methods that are used in administration of justice system during capital punishment. It has been clear that these methods are all cruel and inhumane in nature. The write up has also noted that, even though atrocious crimes that are committed by various criminals are against the human rights, there is need to enhance appropriate methods of administering justices that not only enhances justice to the victims, but also addresses the human rights of the offenders.

On the other hand, the write up has highlighted various dissenting arguments towards capital punishment. Of notable is that it has the positive impact that not only deter future occurrence of such criminal offences, but also ensures effectiveness in offering justice to all. However, the paper has pointed out the need to avoid discriminatory and irrational factors that might alter and change the principality of capital punishment in administering effective justice. It has noted that these irrational factors such as racism impact negatively on the credibility of capital punishment in administering justice system. There is therefore need for the states and nations administering this kind of punishment to come with clear laws to guide the whole process including the kind of cases to be punished through death penalties.      

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