Dead Man Walking

Should Capital Punishment still be enforced?

By Katherine Perez

Although I can"t really say my opinion on the matter, given the fact that I have never been in a situation to decide if I thought someone should be given the death penalty or not, I have seen many cases publicized on t.v that I thought that the verdict was fitting, as in the Boston bombing case. But there have been others where I strongly disagreed that the death penalty was implemented, as in the West Memphis 3 case. Any which way you look at it, here are a few facts and problems with this highly debated subject.

The Facts.

A lot of the skepticism with capital punishment has to do with persistent problems of the administration of the death penalty: botched executions and a lengthy appeals process that fails to identify wrongful convictions for decades. Also, the falling crime rate, showing that support for the death penalty has closely tracked the national murder rate throughout the 20th century has given way to believing that it is not needed. The states that do not use the death penalty are:

  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
The state with the highest numbers of executions is Texas. The states with the lowest are Kansas and New Hampshire. Currently, lethal injection is the method used or allowed in all of the 31 states which allow the death penalty. Nebraska required electrocution, but in 2008 the state's supreme court ruled that the method was unconstitutional. In the 2010s, American jurisdictions have experienced a shortage of lethal injection drugs, due to anti-death penalty advocacy and low production volume. Hospira, the only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental, stopped making the drug in 2011. The European Union has outlawed the export of any product that could be used in an execution; this has prevented executioners from using EU-manufactured anesthetics like propofol which are needed for general medical purposes. Another alternative, pentobarbital, is also only manufactured in the European Union, which has caused the Danish producer to restrict distribution to U.S. government customers.

The United States is one of only four industrialized democracies that still practice capital punishment.