Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the United States of America. It is currently used by 29 states and the federal government and military. It is one of the only counties in the world that is well developed and uses this penalty on its people frequently. It is one of the first countries to use the lethal injection as a way of execution and one of 54 countries to use this penalty.
- The historic background:
Capital punishment was brought over by the British in the 1600’s. Every community and society at that time had a different understanding of the death penalty. For example, in New York it was considered punishable by death if someone misbehaved with their parents or denied the existence of God. However, the modern understanding of capital punishment can be traced back to the case of Furman vs. Georgia. The ruling in this case declared capital punishment unconstitutional and was banned for 4 years. Pennsylvania was the first state to do so. Now as time has progressed, there has been a decline in death penalty given to criminals.
- Method of execution
Different countries have different methods of execution. However, the United States of America uses the lethal injection as the most common method of execution. Other methods that are used involve the electric chair, gas chamber, firing squad, etc. Twenty states in the USA use the lethal injection as the main source of capital punishment while the other 16 give the inmates a choice. Research shows that in 2008, almost 90% of the inmates that died due to capital punishment were put down by lethal injections. To implement this penalty through this method, the inmate is strapped in a chair with restraining gear and a usable vein is found. Then on the instruction of the warden, the drug is administered into his system. Death usually occurs within 8 minutes.
- The public debates the punishment
The public of America has long debated the punishment of death. In a research it was found that around 61% of adults support death penalty while the rest do not. Race also plays an important role – 68% of white Americans support capital punishment while only 39% of African Americans support the penalty when it comes to first degree murder. However, due to such conflicts, the use of the death penalty is on the decline and has been used less frequently as time moves on.
- The last meal
It is customary and a ritual in the USA to offer a death row inmate a last meal of their choosing and they can choose whatever they want to eat. The notorious killer Ted Bundy refused his last meal and was served the standard meal, while the Oklahoma bomber asked for 2 pints of mint chocolate chip ice-cream.