Does the Death Penalty Violate Eighth Amendment Essay
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The most notable provision of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution is the prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments.” Several arguments waged against the death penalty invoke the Eighth Amendment and claim that capital punishment is both cruel and unusual. However, the Supreme Court has heard several such cases and consistently upholds the constitutional legality of the death penalty on Eighth Amendment grounds, as with Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, (1976). The death penalty cannot be considered much if at all crueler than a life term in prison, and when the death penalty is proportional to a crime, it is by no means unusual. Therefore, the death penalty is not a violation of the Eighth Amendment, as long as it is restricted for use in response to capital crimes unequivocally committed by mentally capable adults.
The Supreme Court has also created limitations on the use of the death penalty, restricting its use and methods to ensure that it is administered judiciously. For one, the death penalty must be administered in a way that reduces or eliminates cruelty. Lethal injection has become the go-to method for administering the death penalty because this method has been shown to
reduce suffering. The reason why lethal injection has become the de facto method of state sanctioned killing is that it involves three different drugs, the first of which is a general anasthetic called sodium pentothal, which is used commonly in surgery. The sodium pentothal renders the person unconscious, so that the paralytic drug like Pancuronium Bromide can stop the person’s respiratory functions from working, and a third drug, Potassium Chloride stops the beating of the heart.
Although a few states (Delaware, Washington, and New Hampshire) still allow hangings as a government issued form of capital punishment, lethal injection remains the primary method throughout all states that continue to use the death penalty. In fact, three states (Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah) still allow for firing squads, and 11 states including California have a gas chamber method. Nine states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia still use the electric chair. However, all states have lethal injection as the primary method.
The death penalty has generally been restricted to mentally capable adults, although for the majority of American history it was a punishment issued far more liberally. In 2002, the Courts ultimately ruled against the use of…
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