Abel Estrada

Professor Ramos

English 1A / 3:30

8 March, 2018

                                                                  Six Feet Under

     Are your poor choices worth going six feet under? Some people don’t think about that when their in the moment of committing a careless act. So the consequence of a poor choice can lead them to getting the death penalty sentence. The death penalty is a punishment of execution, administered to someone legally convicted of a capital crime. Some agree and others disagree with this law, and they all have their reasons for their claim.  According to the book, Death Penalty in America written by Hugo Adam Bedau, Hugo says, in the last twenty years, thirty-eight of fifty countries have administered at least one death sentence and twenty-four have gone through at least one execution. He states that the death penalty being sentenced to people has only gone up from the the first death penalty sentence in 1608 when George Kendall was hung over the shore in Jamestown Colony. Capital punishment has been around since the seventh century, by the earliest governments. Executions were different then they are now, the execution methods are lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, firing squad, and hanging.


      There are various methods today for someone that is being executed due to them being sentenced to the death penalty. The most commonly used one is lethal injection. Stated by the video, “ A Lethal Injection”, made by Death Penalty. Org, more than one-thousand-two-hundred-fifty people have been executed in the USA since 1977 by the lethal injection execution. They state that due to a international human rights embargo, the supply of lethal chemicals has been blocked. Due to the blocking, thirteen states keep the source of their lethal chemicals a secret. The process of a lethal injection execution starts by a licensed medic fitting the syringes, insert the IV’s and pronouncing the prisoners death. Midazolam is a sedative that is used to anesthetize the prisoner. The second chemical is vecuronium bromide which paralyzes the prisoner, with this the prisoner still feels pain but is unable to move. The final chemical is potassium chloride that finishes the prisoner by stopping their heart, if the prisoner is still conscious the last chemical will cause an intense burning pain.This execution method is problematic only six states continue using this method.



     Electrocution and the gas chamber are other methods of execution for this penalty. According to DPIC.org, New York was the one that built the first electric chair in 1888, the first victim executed by it was William Kemmler in 1890. The process of this execution starts by the prisoner being strapped to the chair with belts that cross the chest, groin, legs, and arms. A skullcap- shaped electrode is attached to the scalp and forehead over a sponge moistened with saline. The prisoner is then blindfolded and gets jolted with five-hundred to two-thousands volts of electricity, if the prisoners heart is still beeping after the process is repeated. The process of the gas chamber is arguably similar. Cyanide gas was introduced to Nevada in 1924 which was used to execute its first victim Gee Jon. It all starts by being strapped on a chair that sits on top of a pail of sulfuric acid which is located inside an airtight chamber. A executioner then hits a switch releasing crystals of sodium cyanide into the pail which causes a chemical reaction that releases hydrogen cyanide gas. The prisoner is then instructed the breath deeply to speed up the process.     


     The final two methods used for executions are the firing squad and hanging. DPIC.org states that, on March 23, 2015, the firing squad was reauthorized in Utah. It was only a choice if the state was unable to obtain the drugs used for the lethal injection and if chosen by the prisoner. The latest execution with the firing squad was Ronnie Gardner by his own choosing on June 17, 2010. The process of this method starts by the prisoner being strapped to a chair with leather straps in front of an oval shaped canvas wall. The chair is surrounded by sandbags to absorb the inmates blood. A black hood is then put over the prisoners head and a white circular cloth is put on the inmates heart so the heart is easier to spot. Twenty feet away stand five shooters armed  with .30 caliber rifles loaded with single rounds, each shooter aims at the prisoner and fires. The final method used is hanging. According to DPIC.org, hanging was the primary method used for executions until the 1890’s, hanging is still used today in Delaware and Washington. The process of this method starts with the prisoners legs and arms being secured and then blindfolded. A rope is then placed around the neck with a knot behind the left ear. The execution finally takes place when a trap-door is open and the prisoners falls through.   


   Executions have changed a lot from when they first started to now. According to Hugo Adam Bedau, back then executions were public, that caused a threat to the legitimacy of the death penalty. Not everybody was happy with the public executions, some people were against them. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a Philadelphian wrote and lectured against public executions. Him and many more were finally heard, in 1835, in New York laws were made that kept the executions behind walls. You were able to view the event only if you were an official witness. Today there is strict control over who may witness an execution. Capital punishment is not an easy pill to swallow whether your for it or against it, but it all comes back to the person that committed the poor choice so i’ll leave you with the old saying, “ think before you act”.

Work Cited

“Descriptions of Execution Methods.” Descriptions of Execution Methods | Death Penalty Information Center, deathpenaltyinfo.org/descriptions-execution-methods?scid=8&%3Bdid=479.

Video- “A Lethal Injection” by, Deathpenalty.org , Video Link- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOwcyNTsaZ4