The Death Penalty Is A Flawed American Institution Essay

1779 Words Nov 24th, 2015 8 Pages
The death penalty has been a flawed American institution since it was established in the 1600s. It has been marred by complaints of pain, cruelty, inconsistency, discrimination, wrongful death, botched executions, executions of juveniles, mentally disable, and mentally ill, as well as the financial cost. The enforcement of capital punishment has not only been subject to review on the basis of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, but also due to scrutiny of public opinion and outrage. The first account of an execution in the United States came in 1608 when George Kendall was hanged for treason. (Golston pp. 7) Since that time, executions have been applied to many crimes and taken many forms: firing squad, burning at the stake, hanging, electric chair, gas chamber, and most recently lethal injection. Each method touted as more humane than the last. The first written record regarding flaws in the death penalty came in 1778, when Thomas Jefferson introduced a bill to the newly formed government that would prescribe the death penalty for only two severe crimes, treason and murder. All other crimes, he argued, should be punished by means that fit the crimes. He suggested that the death penalty was overused and to prescribe a punishment more severe than the crime itself would only cause people to be dishonest and allow criminals to go unpunished altogether. (Founder’s Constitution, Amendment VIII, Document 10) Jefferson’s plea would be the first of many challenges to the death…

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