Capital punishment exists In the Unite d States Criminal Justice system under aggregating circumstances. The eighteenth amendment of the United States constitution clearly pronounces the jurisdiction of the cases within which this law operates. This amendment limits capital punishment only in exceptional cases such as crimes against humanity, crimes against the state and crimes against humanity.  These crimes must be committed by mentally mature adults and the motive, intentions and perhaps malice aforethought should be proven beyond any reasonable doubt.  Therefore in the laws of the United States, Capital punishment exists only in cases where there are aggregating circumstances. These circumstances may include aggravated murder or contract and serial killing. Initially, Capital punishment was a penalty under the law shared by commonwealth countries (common law).  Currently, the death sentence is a legal provision under the laws of United States in 33 states for the law of both civilians and military systems.

Background Information

In the United States Capital punishment is an issue that raises a lot of concern from the church, human rights activists and other American Citizens.  The first ever death sentence to be recorded was in 1608. It was carried out in the British North American colonies on Captain George Kendall. The execution of this man was by means of a firing squad for spying at the Spanish government (Melusky 2011). This was the first ever death sentence In the United States.   Mixed reactions from people across the world and it indeed developed some tension across the world.  This spearheaded the executions that continued to Increase in the United States following death sentence and executions imposed on 15,269 people between 1608 and 1991. The United States have performed so many executions in the past. The most brutal death sentence in American History was after the War Dakota which transpired in 11862. During this time, the US hang 38 Dakota people accused of rape and drug abuse (Zimring 2004). The second largest execution in the United States was indeed a mass hanging. Thirteen African American soldiers who were allegedly taking part in Houston Riots were executed in 1916.

Methods of Capital Punishment

In the United States, there are various methods of executing a death penalty. These methods change differently depending on the nature of crime the offender committed. In American history, some of the methods used include; crushing, breaking on wheel, bludgeoning and burning. The most common used method in the United States nowadays is hanging. John Marshal was the last murderer to be hanged in West Virginia. Also, the US have used firing squad in the past to perform a number of executions. For example, firing squad was last used in 1608 to perform judicial executions between 1967 and 1977. Other methods used in the execution of people in US history may include the use of the gas chamber, electric chair and gallows. At the moment, lethal Injections is the method that had been permitted for the executions in the 34 US States (Bohm 2011). Nebraska had been using electrocution until 2008 when the Supreme Court declared the method unconstitutional. Therefore, Nebraska changed its method of execution to lethal Injection use. Some states in the United States allow the use of firing squads, hanging, lethal gas and electrocuting.

In cases dealing with federal prisoners, the method of execution used is stipulated under the violent Criminal Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The method to be used depends out rightly on the state the person committed the offence. The judge at this point has the power to determine and responsibility where the death sentence is to be executed. Lethal Injection also has a use for the offences of the 1988 drug king pin Law. In the United State, the condemned person gets a last meal and some religious rituals. An important factor about the carrying out of executions is that they are usually carried out in private with only allowed people to view the proceedings.

Criticism of Capital Punishment In the United States

 A release of innocent people from death rows in the United States has occurred since1973. Researchers in the United States have stipulated that Innocent people have been killed in the United States. Human rights activists have always argued that this law is a breach of the Universal declaration of Human Rights which according to them, respect for Human life is a basic requirement.  For this reason, researchers and Human rights activists seriously challenge the applicability of the Death sentence. The church too with stern foundations on Morality and respect for Human dignity have argued that Death sentence in uncouth practice similar to the roman traditional law an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

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Anti-racist groups had criticized the death penalty in United States with an opinion that whites are not executed like the African Americans and some people who lived in the US when this tool of the criminal Justice system stared being used rampantly in the United States. They believe that some races are poor and mentally retarded was the starting point of all this abuse of the due process of the Criminal Justice System.  Economists argue that Capital punishments are not a satisfactory way to punish culprits. It costs the taxpayers more money whenever a case of this nature is in progress (Adam 2005). It is evident beyond doubts that the death penalty cases are four times more expensive to taxpayers in the USA comparing them with murder trials. Also, there is an opinion from criminologists who do not conquer with the mode of operation of death sentence, that it does not deter crime. Texas and Oklahoma were the two states in the United States that witnessed the greatest number of executions in 2003. However, this did not have any impact on the rates of murder in the following year. In fact, they increased rapidly. For this reason, It is crucial to note and understand clearly that Capital punishment does not deter crime. If anything, it only serves to encourage the criminals in developing new techniques with an intentional of escaping from the long hands of the law. Russia and Turkey have successfully abolished the death sentence. Western countries and other civilized societies in the world have abolished this tool of the criminal justice. This is because they do not want to lose their citizens through execution. Also, the execution conducted in the United States on Sadam Hussein during the reign of George W. Bush. This execution caused a lot of tension around the world, and this was a dismal punishment to be executed on a head of state considering that he had many followers who were especially from terrorist groups.

Renewed Attention on the Practice of Capital Punishment in the US

George Ryan the governor of Illinois imposed the death penalty in Illinois in January 2000. George Ryan conducted a review of death row cases across the country. He determined that 13 death row cases in 1977 had been cleared the murder charges and twelve had been put to death. After DNA evidence had exonerated them, some of the inmates were not included in the death law. Through this, he was able to prove a flaw in this system of capital punishment. However, it is Ironic to have Ryan critic this legal tool since he was one of the members who had allowed for the provision of this in the USA justice system (Mandery 2011). Also, when Timothy Mc Veigh in 2011 reviewed interest, in the Justice system used in the US ESPECIALLY THE Practicability of the capital punishment without risking punishing innocent individuals. The case of Timothy was high profile, and it was, therefore, necessary for all the people around the world to seek information and the basis of his death.

The people who are usually in favor of the death sentence argue that I deters crime, but this is not always the case, Considering that crime rates are determined by a number of factors, it may not be so true to argue that it deters crime. Critics of this tool usually have an ethical point of view as the basis of their opposition. They develop DNA analysis to exonerate a number of criminals shortlisted for execution. Also, it may be argued that the high rates of executions in the United States illustrate the failure of the criminal Justice process.


From the foregoing, it is true that capital punishment does exist in the Criminal Justice process of USA. Possible changes may be involved in the Criminal Justice in USA. Perhaps they should consider abandoning of this legal too especially bearing in mind that the Criminal Justice system is a flexible system that needs to change with the changing needs of Human beings across the world. Also, to reduce cases of innocent killing, it is necessary to factor in the technological revolution ventures. Racist’s personnel of the Criminal justice in the United States receive high fines. The methods used by the United States criminal Justice to execute death sentences should also be reviewed from time to time. The political figures of the United States should also not use the Capital punishment as their weapon to settle old scores with their enemies and critics.

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