During the past several decades, the United States has increased its use of the death penalty. This is a controversial topic that many people find unconstitutional. While many people believe that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, it has also been used to bring justice to criminals and prevent future crimes.
Race plays a role in capital cases
Throughout the history of the death penalty, race plays a significant role in the decisions made to put people to death. In addition, race affects how often people are sentenced to death.
In the early years of the United States, the majority of capital cases involved white victims. This pattern continued into the twentieth century. Some southern states explicitly discriminated against blacks. During the Jim Crow era, legal lynchings were used to assert social control over blacks. These lynchings led to state-ordered executions.
Racial discrimination in the death penalty has been a topic of debate for many years. Studies have shown that people of color are disproportionately incarcerated and convicted of crimes. This is due to factors such as poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, and white racism.
The Supreme Court has avoided addressing the issue of race in the capital punishment debate, though. It’s not clear whether the court is ignoring the risk of racial discrimination in death sentences.
Capital punishment is not always cruel and unusual punishment
Whether the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment depends on the facts of a particular case. In fact, the Eighth Amendment forbids the government from enforcing cruel and unusual punishment. However, in the United States, the Supreme Court has found certain types of cases where the death penalty is indeed cruel and unusual punishment.
In the Furman v. Georgia case, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty violated the Eighth Amendment. The court considered a wide variety of state statutes and facts.
The American Law Institute (ALI) has pointed out that capital punishment is arbitrary and fraught with racial disparities. Many capital crimes are committed by emotionally traumatized individuals, such as those who have been mentally ill or were under the influence of drugs. The ALI pointed out that indigent individuals do not receive quality legal representation.
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty was established in 1976 to provide legal support to those on death row. It is the nation’s oldest anti-death penalty nonprofit organization.
Invoking the ancient legal principle Lex talionis (talion) to ensure that capital punishment was not disproportionately applied
Historically, the ancient legal principle Lex talionis (talion) has been used to ensure that capital punishment was applied fairly. It is a legal concept that is closely associated with the Abrahamic faiths, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The principle was formulated in the ancient Near East and Mesopotamia to ensure that capital punishment was not disproportionately applied. It was also a means of deterring future offenders.
There are many different types of capital punishment, but the most common involves the destruction of the offender’s physical life. Several societies have adopted this method of execution over the years. In some jurisdictions, the punishment is administered as soon as the offender is convicted of a crime, while in others, the sentence may be delayed until the case is appealed.
A few of the more cruel forms of execution include burning at the stake, crucifixion, and breaking a wheel. Some societies have even employed torture in the context of the talion.
Execution drugs used in death-row executions
Across the United States, legal challenges have emerged against execution drugs used in death-row executions. Several states have already adopted a one-drug protocol, while others are considering alternatives. Some pharmaceutical companies have also filed lawsuits over deceptive ways of procuring drugs.
Some states have begun to protect the identities of drug suppliers. They are using “secrecy statutes” to shield their sources. They also are withholding dosage levels. In some cases, they are withholding the names of compounding pharmacies. In other cases, they are withholding information related to law enforcement matters and biological agents.
In a recent study, University of Miami researchers evaluated toxicology reports from three states – Georgia, Arizona and Virginia. The researchers found that the benzodiazepine midazolam was used in several problematic executions. The authors of the study said that their findings suggested that public review of lethal injections was necessary. However, the authors made no recommendations about the protocol.
A 2015 ruling in Oklahoma allowed the use of midazolam in executions. The state used it instead of thiopental, which had been used in four executions in Arkansas.