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The death penalty must be abolished We have given our government the authorization to determine who shall live and who shall not We have given twelve individuals the power to determine the mortal fate of another human being Todays system of capital punishment is fraught with inequalities and injustices There is no room for the difference between life and death Nearly four centuries have passed since the first recorded lawful execution on American soil Captain George Kendall was killed for the crime of theft in 1608 Every method used in the death penalty has purported to be more humane less painful and scientific Massive and familiar as the death penalty is to modern America in order to understand the death penalty today we must look at the changes it has undergone The intended effect of hanging is the dislocation of the cervical vertebrae which produces instant death Hangings are optional to the condemned presently in only four states-Montana New Hampshire Washington and Delaware The 1996 execution of John Taylor in Utah provides a clear look at the modern method of death by firing squad Taylor claimed he was innocent and chose a firing squad over lethal injection to embarrass state officials Taylor was strapped into a wooden armchair and a hood was placed over his head A stethoscope was used to locate his heart and a red cloth target was pinned to the site Five anonymous sharpshooters using 30 caliber rifles stationed behind an upright canvass sheet twenty feet from their target fired on command and Taylor died quickly The electric chair introduced in 1890 has the intended effect of paralysis of the heart and respiratory system The prisoner is strapped to the chair and a powerful surge of electricity is passed through his body In Georgia in 1985 Alpha Otis Stephens had to be hit with three separate 1900 volt surges of electricity before he expired In the case of lethal gas
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