The History of Capital Punishment Essay

The History of Capital Punishment Essay

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The clock ticks to 10:53. The late night has grown longer, and Troy Davis is strapped down to a gurney. If he is scared, he does not show it; he appears strong and resolute in what is undoubtedly a very daunting situation. “For those about to take my life,” he says, “may God have mercy on your souls” (“Georgia”). Davis has been on death row for over twenty years for killing a police officer. After every request and appeal has failed, the time has come for Davis to be executed by the state of Georgia. What is special about this case is that thousands around the globe refuse to believe that he is guilty (Curry). People have organized to demand that he be freed, or at least that his sentence be changed. Their effort is futile. Fifteen minutes later, Davis is dead. Many in the crowd outside the jail weep. They consider him, like he maintained until the end, an innocent man. “How is this justice?” they wonder. They are not just sympathizing; the handling of Davis’s case has been criticized around the world. Seven of the nine witnesses who testified against him later withdrew their statements, and there was no DNA evidence or murder weapon found (Pilkington). How can a man’s life be taken in such an unfair and cruel way? The world should make capital punishment illegal, recognizing it as a moral and ethical mistake, a cruel and misguided injustice, and an impractical and wasteful act.
Capital punishment has a complicated history, both worldwide and particularly in the United States. Due to the efforts of human rights groups and evolutions in society, the world has many fewer executions today than decades and centuries ago. According to the United States Department of Justice, there were forty-six executions in 2010. Forty-six is a lit...


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... execute or not: A question of cost?” USA Today. 3/8/09. 10/20/11 .

The Holy Bible: King James Version. Naples, FL: Trident Reference Publishing, 2007.

Pilkington, Ed. “Troy Davis campaigners vow to fight ‘inhumane and inflexible’ death penalty.” The Guardian. 9/22/11. 10/20/11 .

Polites, Olga. “When a Loved One Is Murdered, the Death Penalty Seems Moral.” Connors 23-25.

United States. Dept. of Justice. Bureau of Justice Statistics. “Number of persons executed in the United States, 1930-2010.” Capital Punishment, 2009 - Statistical Tables. 10/20/11. 10/20/11 .

Wolf, Robert V. Capital Punishment. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1997.

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