Dancing with Death – an Inquiry Into Retribution and Capital Punishment

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Dancing with Death an Inquiry Into Retribution and Capital Punishment

The persistent hum of a fluorescent bulb fails to drown the sound of your heartbeat, your thoughts, the faint weeping of your mother. A warm sensation travels through cold veins, there is no return now. Perhaps a lifetime in supermax would have been worse, but perhaps you should not have slaughtered that girl.

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Did you? She wanted it. Where are you? The lights become fuzzy and your muscles contract. Helplessly and vigorously you writhe, like a great predator in the captivity of his hunter. Existence becomes pain until you cease to exist, and find liberation from mortal responsibility.

The United States government saw to the deprivation of your life, among twenty other lives in 2018, through capital punishment. This permanent mode of retribution and subsequent safety of the general population demands controversy throughout the history of the American criminal justice system. In some cohorts, the life sentence suffices as just repercussion for dangerous inmates. In others, capital punishment serves as a repulsive deterrent for future offenders. The heated debate over the necessity of execution or lack thereof takes years of statistical studies, special cases, and public opinion into question. Death is not a gentle act, and thus requires due support and justification from those who deliver it. Society asserts that capital punishment is an effective method of deterrence and crime prevention in order to justify their own dark desire for retribution.

From the gallows of Puritan Massachusetts to the execution chamber in Huntsville, Texas, capital punishment holds onto its harrowing place in the American criminal justice system with fervor. The colonists, though more conservative than England, liberally dealt the maximum punishment for violent offenders or repeated offenders of lesser crimes. Murder, rape, witchcraft, and incorrect religious affiliation sent dozens of citizens to death, often with little contention from the masses (Malik 695). Biblical text and other archaic tradition provided enough reasoning to society at the time. People widely accepted the exchange of bloodshed humanity partook in, as it was the way things always were. In the years after the revolution, “America evolved from its predominantly religious beginnings” and citizens began to challenge the nature of criminal execution (Malik 696).

The death penalty now exclusively applied to murders, rapists, and traitors to the nation. Sentiments in opposition to execution gained strength until the abolition of public hanging practices. In the 1880’s a number of states declared hanging as barbaric and thus introduced the electric chair. The electrocution execution of Jesse Tefaro highlights the occurrence of human error in any method of capital punishment. In the case of Tefaro, an improper head sponge was put in place to conduct the electrical charge to the brain,

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