Capital punishment is the lawful infliction of death as a punishment and has been used in America since 1608. The death penalty has been mainly aimed at murder and rape perpetrators. For the past two hundred years with over 15,600 executions since 1608, most executions were completed though hangings; however, beginning in the 1900s new forms of execution developed. Although the death penalty is said to be more expensive, unethical, racially unfair, and more cruel than life without parole, each is inconsistent in its assumption.
The methods used to execute criminals have gone through an evolution since its inception. Until the end of the nineteenth century hanging was considered to be the most humane form of execution and was the primary method during this period. During the twentieth century lethal gas and electrocution were the most common form of execution in the United States. Yet, the botched executions of several people particularly in Florida were noted for malfunctions, which caused discussion of their cruelty and resulted in a shift away from these forms towards lethal injection.
No method of execution has ever been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
A defendant found guilty of first degree murder may be unable to receive the death penalty if there are mitigating circumstances involved. The United States Supreme Court held the constitution prohibits those who are insane. But, the definition if “insanity” failed to be mentioned, leaving each state to come up with their own definition of insanity. Another mitigating factor is a person’s mental capacity, the Supreme Court’s decision on the ability for a mentally handicapped person to be executed rests on the Weems test as the main rationale. The final mitigating circumstance has to do with the age of the convicts who committed the crime while they were still legally minors. In 2005, the Roper v. Simmions decision ended the execution of those who committed the crime while they were...