The Death Penalty in the American Democracy

Pre-University Paper, 1999

23 Pages, Grade: 14 Punkte

Free online reading


1. Introduction

2. The capital punishment
2.1 Decisive felonies
2.2 The development of the death penalty
2.2.1 Furman versus Georgia
2.2.2 Gregg versus Georgia
2.2.3 The further stages of development

3. The electric chair
3.1 The introduction
3.2 The course of the electrocution
3.3 The delay of dying on the electric chair
3.4 Side effects

4. Pros and cons of the death penalty
4.1 Pro capital punishment
4.1.1 The deterrence?
4.2 Con capital punishment
4.2.1 Discriminating application The case of the black Clarence Brandley Mentally disturbed persons
4.2.2 Wrong confessions and/or overrated testimonies of witnesses

5. My opinion about the connection between the American dream and the death penalty

6. Conclusion

7. Epilogue

1. Introduction

In my paper I work at the subject “The death penalty in the American democracy”. In this connection I chiefly confine myself to the development of the capital punishment, one execution method, namely the electric chair, and a few arguments for and against the death penalty. Finally I discuss the relation between the American dream and the death penalty.

I aim to show that the USA are an arrogant world power hiding discrimination against minorities in the eyes of the law by the American democracy and a system of justice that is supposed to be fair. Moreover, I want to show that the USA practice an injustice as they, on the one hand, can legally execute persons but, on the other hand, for the people them-selves it is forbidden to kill humans. Also, I am going to evince that the feeling of equity is not always taken in earnest by the American state, as the USA is not free of prejudice.

The procedure I planned is to define the death penalty first to make sure that everyone can imagine what to understand by it. Then I describe how the capital punishment developed and thereupon I treat the theme of the electric chair. There I make the subdivision into the topics of the introduction of the electric chair, the run and the retardation of an execution on that chair and finally the possible side effects. In addition to that, I mention one argument often used for the death penalty and two against it. At last, I try to find out what the capital punishment has got to do with the American dream and ultimately I will tell my opinion about this paper.

I have mainly used the internet, as it was rather hard to find anything about the death penalty in books. But, of course, I have also used a few cuts of a book called “Streitfall Todesstrafe” and some aspects we have talked about in several English lessons.

2. The capital punishment

2.1 Decisive felonies

According to the Familien Lexikon the death penalty is “die schwerste Strafart, die versch[iedene] Strafrechtsordnungen für Kapitalverbrechen, polit[ische] u[nd] milit[ärische] Delikte vorsehen.“[1]

The numerous execution methods, which reach from stoning (in 7 countries among others in Iran and Saudi Arabia), hanging (in 47 countries among others in Poland), the lethal injection, the gas chamber to the electric chair, - the three last methods are practised exclusive in the USA[2] - show of what gruesome acts a man can be capable when acting by order of the American state.

Regarded as capital crimes in the USA and thus for the American state as killing justification, are about 60 crimes. To this belong among other things the following ones:

1) Murder while stealing
2) Murder by fire - arms or by explosion
3) Murder by resistance to lawful arrest or detention
4) Murder of policemen or aids when exercising their office
5) Murder of gaoler by a prisoner
6) Murder for a second time

Yet, these are only capital crimes, when it is a question of a 1st degree murder[3] under aggravating circumstances. The ensuing circumstances belong to it:

a) A committed crime exceptionally atrocious, cruel and brutal
b) There are a few victims
c) A murder committed in coincidence with another crime like theft or violence
d) Murder on payment
e) The culprit is inmate of the prison
f) The culprit is previously convicted because of a crime of violence
g) Murder by order
h) Instigation to murder[4]

Felonies without any casualties can be treason, espionage and organized drug trafficking.[5]

2.2 The development of the death penalty

„The first known execution in ... the United States of America was of Daniel Frank, put to death in 1622 in the Colony of Virginia for the crime of theft.”[6] There were about 13,000 people legally executed by the state from colonial times up to the independence of the U.S. in 1776.[7]

1847 Michigan was the first federal state abolishing the death penalty till this day, for all crimes but high - treason. The reason was the execution of an innocent. In 1888 the electric chair has been introduced. Up to 1915 five states annulled the capital punishment, while at least a few abolished it temporary. Kansas even repealed it for about 28 years.[8]

In 1924 the gas chamber was developed by Major D. A. Turner, who saw the effect on the victims of the gas - namely dizzy spells, breaking out of panic followed by severe head - aches, a pain in the chest and finally a respiratory paralysis - in the First World War.[9]

From 1930 - the time when the Bureau of Justice Statistics started counting the execu-tion victim’s - to 1967, about 3,859 people were put to death. The statistics manifest that roughly 54 % of blacks, 45 % of white men and 19 American Indians, 13 Filipinos, eight Chinese and two Japanese, being the remaining one per cent, became victims of the Ameri-can system.

Mainly men were killed in the time between 1930 and 1967 whereas “only” 32 women became casualties of the state.

The state Georgia with the highest execution number during the mentioned time (366 men), as well as Texas with 297 , New York with 329, California with 292 and North Carolina with 263 victims, prove that the majority, namely three of five executions, took place in the southern states. But as the public did not support the legal killing of people and as there were raised objections to it, the execution rate declined to almost zero in 1967.

2.2.1 Furman versus Georgia

Nevertheless, only on account of the case Furman versus Georgia the death penalty was suspended by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 for the whole USA.[10] “This case repre- sents the first time the Supreme Court ruled against the death penalty.”[11]

Furman, a black man who shot a householder while being about to enter his home at night, received, together with two other black defenders, the death penalty. The 26 - year - old Furman, who, on account of his low mental level, only managed the sixth grade at school, was taken to the Georgia Central State Hospital for a psychiatric inquiry. It was found out, that Furman was mentally disturbed and not “capable of cooperating with his counsel in the preparation of his ... defense [and] ... that he ... [was] in need of further psy-chiatric hospitalization and treatment.”[12] The Supreme Court decided with a proportion of votes of five to four that the death penalty is cruel, unusual and arbitrary and would reject against the Eighth[13] and the Fourteenth Amendment[14]. Justice Marshall even described that the capital punishment was “excessive, unneccessary [!], and offensive to contempor-ary values.”[15] By reason of this case, more than 600 death sentences have been repealed between 1967 and 1972.[16]

2.2.2 Gregg versus Georgia

When the Supreme Court authorized the reintroduction of the capital punishment in 1976, it left this revival to each single state. The occasion for a repeated adoption was the case Gregg versus Georgia.

Gregg committed an armed predatory and killed two men. As the State Supreme Court decided with seven to two votes that the capital punishment would not be excessive or dis-proportionate in this special instance and that the judgement was not unjust, Gregg was to be executed.

Another reason was that two aggravating circumstances were present. The first one was that the committed murder happened while the culprit was involved in the commission of another felony, namely the armed robbery of the two men. The second one was that the murder happened in order to get the victims’ money and car.[17]

2.2.3 The further stages of development

In 1977 the Supreme Court explained that in the three federal states Florida, Georgia and Texas a legal procedure, being composed of two parts, is necessary for a death penalty trial. In the first instance the guilt of the accused must be determined, and in the second it has to be decided on the amount of punishment, either the death penalty or perpetual. If the jury, after the verdict of guilty, is of the opinion that the defendant has killed the victim in-tentionally, that he or she could commit further crimes and that he or she can become a threat for society, the judge will assess the death penalty.[18]

The first execution in the USA since 1967 occurred in 1977 in Utah when the mur-derer Gary Gilmore was put to death by firing squad.[19] In the same year the lethal injection has been inserted in Oklahoma and Texas. Charles Brooks was the first man to be executed by this method in 1982 in Huntsville Prison, Texas.[20]

The execution rate began mounting in a dramatic manner, so that from 1977 to 1997 already 432 executions had taken place, at which 266 white men, 161 blacks and five per-sons of other races were the victims.

Since 1976, “only” three women were executed. The women that belonged to it were Velma Barfield for embittering her fiancé in 1984, Karla Faye Tucker for killing her for-mer lover and his female friend with a pickaxe on the 3rd of February in 1998 and the 54 - year - old Judy Beenano, 55 days later, for “poisoning her husband, drowning her son and trying to blow up her fiancé.”[21]

In 1986 there were 36 states practising the capital punishment again. And 11 years later up to now, there have been 38 states having the death penalty laid down in their con-stitution. But “only” 29 states make use of their law to execute people.[22] Altogether, 12 states remain totally without it: Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.[23]

To reduce the danger of executing not guilty persons, mentally retarded human beings and juvenile offenders, being in death row even today, the American Bar Association de-manded for the interruption of the death penalty in 1997, until new policies can guarantee fair and impartial trials.[24] Though these and other efforts, for example of the UN Human rights Commission, did not really bring much about, because since 1976 about 75 people, more than any 7th person, were condemned to death wrongly. This has often to do with the police being under pressure to succeed.[25]

This day a greater amount of 3,300 people is located on death row waiting for their execution.[26]

3. The electric chair

3.1 The introduction

As it was said that the execution on the electric chair was much more humane than hanging people which committed any sort of felony, the method of killing men legally by lethal current has been introduced in the USA on the 4th of June in 1888. When the gov-ernment of New York was convinced of the fact that hanging would not be so suitable for a modern, open-minded and civilized society, they preferred this new execution method, because it was so up - to - date.

The dentist Doctor Alfred P. Southwick was given the idea for this introduction because of the death of a man called Samuel Smith in Buffalo, New York, in 1881.

When the dental surgeon was told that the vic-tim’s death occurred, supposedly without delay and pain, as he touched the contacts of a direct current (D.C.) generator with his hands, he was convinced of a new, less painful killing method than a former one.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

ill. 2)

Immediately, experiments with animals were made at which “satisfactory” results with 770 volts alternating current (A. C.), wherewith even a horse was killed, were obtained.

Mankind had not enough know - how, at this time, for being sure that, just ten years after the bulb was invented by Edison, the execution on the electric chair would go off well. But it did work. When the murderer William Kemmler was the first to put to death by the electric chair on the 6th of August in 1889 in the New York Auburn State Prison, the executioners were all electricians, and among the 25 witnesses, 14 doctors were present.

Despite the strong feeling of interest, not many federal states use this method today, because it is called for the persons concerned, as well the relatives of the delinquent as the relatives of the victim(s), to look at the infliction of punishment by death. And the point is to make the execution bearable for the parties concerned, which means the delinquent’s body should not get disfigured by the electric shocks. And as the needed current intensity for killing usually varies according to the offender(s), it is difficult to find a proper cur-rent, so that some federal states do without this execution method.[27]

All the same, the inventor Fred Leuchter is of the opinion that the correct voltage totals 2640 volts A.C. and five ampere. These values are calculated as follows: For our conscious nervous system[28] usually 1500 volts A.C. are enough to destroy it. In general, you lose consciousness within 4.16 thousandth seconds, 24 times faster than the conscious nervous system can react.

But as the heart failure cannot be guaranteed at a voltage under 2000 volts, the more robust autonomous nervous system[29] has to be abrogated for getting the heart to stop. Normally, the voltage is set up at a value of 2000 volts A.C. plus 20 per cent. Lest the de-linquent does not get grievous and visible bodily harms, the voltage should not be more than six ampere.[30]

3.2 The course of the electrocution

The procedure goes as follows: The delinquent is shaved his or her body and legs and is buckled on a chair[31] - made of wood and furnished with eight leather straps[32] - created specially for that kind of execution. (The shave is necessary for an effective contact between the electrodes and the victim’s skin.)[33] The eyes of the convict are sealed for not coming out of their orbits. After that, moistened copper electrodes are fastened on the head in the form of a copper helmet and on the leg in the form of a copper sheet. Both electrodes are connected with a generator which transports electric shocks, after the governor of the prison has given the sign to throw the switch lever.[34]

On the control desk are two master switches working by the principle of chance and operated by two executioners, so that no one does really know who has carried out the ex-ecution after all.[35]

The first current impulse amounting to about 2000 volts gets through the victim’s body and after about 50 seconds the voltage is decreased to 500 volts and then intensified again to 2000 volts. Actually, this proceeding lasts approximately three minutes, but there were already cases where the throes of death took much more time.[36]

3.3 The delay of dying on the electric chair

When the federal state Alabama executed the murderer John L. Evans the 24th of April in 1983, his throes of death lasted about nine minutes.

The first electric shock of 1900 volts was given and the doomed man made a desperate effort. Sparks flew around his head and his left leg, of which the leather straps were totally blown and an electrode was fallen off. It was established that a short circuit was caused and so the jailers had to repair it. Meanwhile the doctors of the prison realized that Evans was still alive.

With the 2nd electric shock little flames licked around Evans’ head and his body made a further desperate effort. Smoke and flames leapt up from his temples and his leg, but the death was not occurred yet.

Evans’ lawyer urged the governor of Alabama, with the help of the warden trans-mitting the attorney’s appeal, to stop the execution. But this was refused and after the 3rd current impulse, Evans died nine minutes later.[37]

3.4 Side effects

The medical expert Ingo Wirth explains what kind of marks an execution by electrical current can cause:

Wenn der Verurteilte unter Strom steht, zerfließen seine Augäpfel in denn [!] Höhlen oder quellen heraus. Die Herzkammern flimmern, manchmal bleibt das Herz auch sofort stehen. Die Atemmuskulatur wird gelähmt. Im Gehirn kommt es zu Blutungen, es weicht stellenweise auf. Aus dem Körper steigt Rauch und schlagen Funken, manchmal lodern auch kleine Flammen, die die Haare in Brand setzen. Der Verurteilte kann Exkremente, Sperma und Speichel verlieren. ... Die inneren Organe werden so heiß, dass sich der Gerichtsmediziner an ihnen die Finger verbrennen würde, wenn er die Leiche direkt nach der Hinrichtung öffnet.[38]

Further effects can be the heating of the skull bones until they burn, the separation of the nerve - cords into two parts and the explosion of arteries and sometimes even of pu-pils.[39]

4. Pros and cons of the death penalty

4.1 Pro capital punishment

4.1.1 The deterrence?

The opinions on the question if the death penalty does really serve to the deterrence of crimes are divided.

In 1985 a study by Stephen K. Layson was published saying that the execution of only one murderer would hinder 18 murders. Besides, the study showed that, when death sen-tences mounted for one single per cent, already 105 murders would be prevented. Further statistics prove that in 1960, when 59 executions were carried out, 9,140 murders were committed and four years later, when 15 executions happened, the rate of murders in-creased to 9,250. Later in 1969, a year without any legal killings, 14,590 murders were counted and even 20,510 in 1975. “So the number of murders grew as the number of ex-ecutions shrank.”[40]

The Researcher Karl Spence formulates his thoughts for the death penalty as follows:

While some [death penalty] abolitionists try to face down the results of their disastrous experiment [containing not to execute all prisoners which committed any capital crime] and still argue to the contrary, the ... [data] concludes that a substantial deterrent effect has been observed ... In six months, more Americans are murdered than have killed by execution in this entire century ... Until we begin to fight crime in earnest [by using the death penalty], every person who dies at a criminal’s hands is a victim of our inaction.[41]

Opponents of the theory the capital punishment would have a deterrent effect, refer to the research study of the United Nations inferring that the

research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment. Such proof is unlikely to be forthcoming. The evidence as a whole still gives no positive support to the deterrent hypothesis.[42]

So that the deterrent operation takes effect, the culprit must weigh the advantages and the disadvantages against each other, which means he has to think rationally. And if a mur-der is committed in the heat of passion, out of jealousy or out of greed, the offender would not suddenly stop killing e.g. its lover only because it occurs to him that the death penalty could catch up with him.[43]

Furthermore, not every person has a high survival instinct. For some people having an inclination to suicide but being too frightened to kill themselves, an opposite effect of the deterrence can appear. There were already cases when humans killed others only to be killed.[44]

Moreover, for not terrifying the citizens, the capital punishment is enforced behind the walls of the prison, so that the large part of the population does not see the executions.

“Das, was also am ehesten schockiert, was nach Ansicht der Abschreckungs - Befürworter ja erst der Todesstrafe den Sinn gibt, wird ihr entzogen.“[45]

4.2 Con capital punishment

4.2.1 Discriminating application

The statement of the former governor of Saint Quentin, Clinton Duffy “Die Todes-strafe ist das Privileg der Armen“[46] shows that the American system of justice is not free of prejudice and consequently not infallible. Above all in the south of the USA it is con-spicuous that most of the inmates of the death row, namely 45%, are black people, al-though they make up only 12% of the whole US - population.

As one looks for offenders and as these guilty persons have to be presented as fast as possible, especially when a murder was committed, inquiries are made rather slatternly which leads to accusations of less well - off persons and social fringe groups like e.g. blacks.[47] Often they cannot afford a lawyer so that an assigned counsel is provided not always being motivated as he gets less money than a “normal” lawyer.[48] Furthermore, a death penalty - trial is habitually more time - consuming than any other lawsuit and it re-quires a great deal of work. On account of the fact that the assigned counsels are mainly private lawyers they lack financial means e.g. to question all witnesses. Likewise, experi-ence on the field of the capital punishment frequently misses, how it can happen, too, that in rural regions the ordered lawyer has no experience with the criminal law whatsoever.[49] The case of the black Clarence Brandley

An example that racism is no foreign word for the American state shows the ensuing instance: When a 16 - year - old girl was killed in a High School in Texas, for the sheriff of that place two boys were eligible as culprits. After the investigating officer had seen that one of the sheriff’s suspects, Clarence Brandley, was dark - skinned, he threatened that one of the lads will be hanged and he addressed to Brandley with the words “und weil du der Nigger bist, wirst du das sein.”[50]

Only after years Brandley was released on account of examinations of the corpse which proved that he could not be the murderer, as the hair of a white man was found and as this white person had to be the culprit.[51]

Altogether, it is noticeable that blacks who killed whites are condemned to death more often than whites who killed blacks.[52] Mentally disturbed persons

In fact, the execution of people with mental diseases is forbidden when these individ-uals do not know that they committed a felony.[53] In Texas the legal killing of people is normally allowed when they have an intelligence quotient (I.Q.) of 70[54]. This quotient applied to Johnny Ray Anderson who was executed in 1990 but incapable of naming the months of a year.[55]

Five years later, Barry Fairchild was killed by the state, although he only had an I.Q. of 63 at most.

The organization for human rights amnesty international assumes that at least one per cent of human beings condemned to death is a group of mentally retarded men and so the question is posed if these convicts do belong to the “ ‘moralisch äußerst verwerflichen Per-sonen’ ... , für die die Todesstrafe vorgesehen ist.“[56]

Today, only nine federal states forbid executing mentally retarded persons.[57]

4.2.2 Wrong confessions and / or overrated testimonies of witnesses

An example of a wrong decision of the American court is the case of Timothy John Evans who was condemned to death the 13th of January in 1950 on account of his baby’s and his wife’s murder.

Evans, who could hardly write and read, placed four rather contradictory testimonies on record, including a confession in which he mentioned the alleged place of his wife’s corpse, which, however, was not found there. In another testimony, Evans accused his neighbour Christie of committing the two murders. That man became the chief witness against Evans, and when the court was convinced of the shown evidences, Evans was ex-ecuted on the 9th of March in 1950, consequently only 55 days after his condemnation.

Four years later, the tenant who lived in the lodgings after Christie, found several women corpses during the renovation. Christie made a full confession and admitted in the course of the interrogation that he had killed Evans’ wife, too.

Afterwards it was proved that Evans’ confession was enforced by the police and that, even during the trial, there were already evidences of his innocence which were not used.[58]

It is not always true that witnesses deliberately make a wrong evidence as Christie in the preceding case. Frequently the mistake falsities the observation as it happened with the identification of the accused Andrews who was doubtlessly recognized as the perpetrator by 17 witnesses, although he had nothing to do with the crime he was accused of and the real culprit could found guilty later.[59]

5. My opinion about the connection between the American dream and the death penalty

The American dream, including the wish for liberty, personal success and the striving for self - realization, equality and better conditions of life[60], seems to be so easy to come true, when thinking of expressions like the “American goodness”[61], “the land of plenty [and] ... of opportunity”[62] and the “land of the free and the home of the brave”[63], which can evoke the feeling in you that this country is so special that everyone will get happy if one lives there. But I think this would be a rather idealized imagination of the American state, because no social order can be perfect and without any mistakes.

The so - called land of opportunity offers such possibilities and chances to each indi-vidual which do not endanger the society. For instance you have the “right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state”[64] and “the right to freedom of opinion and expression”[65] as these rights actually do not cause any danger to anybody. But you must not kill, because this would offend against the moral and of course against the law. That is why your acting is limited by guidelines, resulting in the fact that your possi-bilities in the USA - and in other countries, too - are not unlimited.

But what kind of state is it that forbids single people to kill any human being, but not the state itself . Why do the laws include such an injustice, although it is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal [and that every individual has the] unalienable Rights ... [of] Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”[66] ?

In my opinion this is a kind of contradiction as e.g. soldiers are allowed to assassinate and a single person must not do it. Or is the American state of the opinion that soldiers kill in war - time for the welfare of the whole society and the defense of the country and that single persons do only kill for their own contentment and satisfaction ?

When the American state claims the right to legal killing for itself, this is in a certain way an opposite of what the 39th President of the USA, Jimmy Carter, said about the “powerful [who] must not persecute the weak”.[67]

I cannot prove that he really meant the government by these words, but Carter’s moral statement would fit in this respect that the state, the powerful, puts its interests above the life of a person - which is in proportion of the state the weak - when it judges someone. It takes so to speak the most precious thing you have, which means that the state is a kind of killer and also a thief, even though killing and stealing is prohibited by the law.

Actually the ideas of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are exemplary of an advanced social order, as the whole US - population is included in this declaring saying that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without any distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.[68]

So even minorities are taken into consideration in the laws of the American democ-racy.

But unfortunately the naive American society, believing in their just, human and pro-gressive world power USA, can be, to my mind, characterized as a rather weak society when having a look at the great amount of black victims of the state and other minorities being punished with the death penalty.

This feebleness to favour the capital punishment arises from the “mounting fear of crime ... and the cynical manipulation of the death penalty issues by many politicians for their own political gain”[69] so that the population is, in a certain way, influenced. Probably the politicians propagate that the death penalty would be a step into the right direction for guaranteeing the personal safety. Indeed, it may be understandable to put this safety above all, but not at the expense of other lives.

It becomes clear that the USA hide behind a façade and a mask of tolerance, main-tained by the Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

6. Conclusion

To sum it up it can be said that the USA, the only western industrial country practicing the death penalty, do not behave in an exemplary manner relating to the capital punish-ment, which is imposed discriminating against minorities. The states which kill place themselves on a level with murderers.

Poor people and social fringe groups have the hard lot of becoming the victims of the American state very often, when the real culprits cannot be presented (fast enough). This shows that the judges and the jury are not objective enough and indicates that the USA have hardly no scruple, as no democracy executes so unreserved and unconditional. Nei-ther the American state is deterred from the side effects that e.g. the electric chair can cause, nor by the fact that innocents will still be killed legally.

Furthermore, it is obvious that the most frequently used argument for the death pen-alty, the deterrence, is actually not relevant, because this deterrent effect cannot be guaran-teed. So, there is basically no justification to execute people, especially not as the Ameri-can state is contradictory to the Declaration of Independence and the law. On the one side, every man shall be treated equally and on the other side, that is exactly the thing that is not practised at all.

The death penalty, the only legal carried out so premeditated and in cool - blood, of-fends against the dignity of a person and is an irrevocable punishment. Consequently, the American dream of equality and justice does not apply to all, which means that this dream stays what it is, a mental picture of the future not coming true for several people. That is why the USA cannot be termed as a democracy in this case.

Of course, it has to be added for vindication that there are some states having abol-ished the capital punishment completely. These states are mainly in the northern part of the USA (cf. appendix, ill. 3).

To make the death penalty acceptable at all, an offender must be proved guilty 100 per cent. But, actually there is no single reason why this form of punishment should be prac-ticed in future.

The death penalty does only treat the symptoms of a possibly false social system, but the real causes for the criminality - namely the social situation like poverty - will not change. That is why the better solution would be to reduce or even try to eliminate this poverty, instead of imposing the capital punishment. The society needs not be frightened that much of recidivists but more of the growing of deplorable states of affairs and the de-velopment of a two - class - society being a reason for intensifying felonies.

7. Epilogue

In conclusion, I would like to make a few remarks on this paper and point out the difficulties being a problem to me during my working.

1) The first problem came up when I tried to find materials about the development of the death penalty in the USA. I had to search for some hours to find something useful. But for all my far - reaching efforts, I failed to fill the gaps (e.g. from 1776 to 1847, cf. chap. 2.2). Anyway, in my opinion this blemish is pardonable, as I have mentioned the most important stages of development of the capital punishment.

2) The second problem emerged when I was about to write something about the electric chair. As I always read two or three sources at the same time, it was not hidden to me that some pieces of information were a bit different. An example is that three opposite details appeared relating to the exact time when the death of the delinquent John Evans was diagnosed (cf. chapter 3.3). One internet source says that the death occurred after 17 minutes, in another one I found that Evans was dead after 14 minutes, and in the book “Streitfall Todesstrafe” it is mentioned that the offender died after nine minutes.

Also, a contradiction concerning the introduction of the lethal injection appeared. An internet source said that method was introduced in 1986 and in the book again, the year “1977” was declared.

That book, I thought, was the most reliable one so that I related to it in the two cases.

3) Another point was that I could not specify all 60 crimes the capital punishment can be imposed on (cf. chap. 2.1). So I named the ones which are mainly committed.

4) I have to add, too, that I surely did not mean the whole population when I said “the state” and “the USA”, but this is often generalized.

5) It is true that there were a great many themes I could still have written about. For example, I decided to write about more (alleged) arguments for the capital punish-ment, like e.g. the Bible, and against it, like judicial errors, wrong expert opinions, psychological fallacies, wrong valuation of evidence and blackmail from con-fessions or testimonies by examining officials.

I also planned to present a case where the death penalty was imposed on a 73 - year - old woman, on pregnant women and juvenile offenders, and I wanted to show what an executioner has to do, what he thinks about his work and how a doomed man spends its last day.

But if I had written about all this, I would either not have dealt with the topics so detailed, or I would have gone beyond the scope of this paper, too much.

So, it was a bit hard to say which topic I should choose and which one I better should leave out.

All in all I mostly enjoyed working on the paper, because it was rather interesting to deal with a theme so extensive. But it has to be said, too, that it is necessary to handle with a topic you are really interested in. Otherwise you will lose interest very fast. This was the case, when I wrote about the American dream. I had to start three times anew, because I did not really know what to say about it and I maybe was a little bit “washed - out”.


[1] Familien Lexikon, p.1385

[2] cf. Müller, Frank, Streitfall Todesstrafe, Patmos-Verlag: Düsseldorf, 1998. pp. 16ff

[3] Usually a planned murder and often committed in conjunction with other crimes like e.g. rape

[4] cf.

[5] cf. ai amnesty international Jahresbericht 1995, p.577


[7] cf.

[8] cf.

[9] cf. Müller, F., Streitfall Todesstrafe, p. 46

[10] see footnote 6



[13] This Amendment forbids a cruel and unusual punishment

[14] This Amendment obliges the state to conduct a fair lawsuit

[15] see footnote 11

[16] see footnote 6

[17] cf.

[18] see footnote 8

[19] see footnote 6

[20] cf. Müller, F., Streitfall Todesstrafe, p. 50

[21] see footnote 7

[22] cf.

[23] see footnote 7

[24] see footnote 7

[25] cf.

[26] cf.

[27] cf. Müller, F., Streitfall Todesstrafe, pp. 36ff

[28] This system controls the sensation of pain and the intelligence

[29] This system controls the action of the organs, e.g. of the heart and of the blood vessels

[30] cf. Müller, F., Streitfall Todesstrafe, p. 42

[31] see footnote 8

[32] cf.

[33] see footnote 8

[34] see footnote 32

[35] cf.

[36] see footnote 32

[37] cf. Müller, F., Streitfall Todesstrafe, pp.38f ,

[38] see footnote 32

[39] cf.


[41] see footnote 40

[42] see footnote 7

[43] cf. Müller, F., Streitfall Todesstrafe, p. 171

[44] cf. Müller, F., Streitfall Todesstrafe, p. 172

[45] Müller, F., Streitfall Todesstrafe, pp. 172 f

[46] Gesterkamp, H., Der positive Trend setzt sich fort, p. 9 (

[47] see footnote 25

[48] cf. ai, USA – Nein zur Todesstrafe

[49] see footnote 4

[50] see footnote 25

[51] see footnote 25

[52] cf.

[53] see footnote 51

[54] The average I.Q. is about 100

[55] cf.

[56] see footnote 51

[57] see footnote 51

[58] see footnote 4, cf. Müller, F., Streitfall Todesstrafe, pp. 145f

[59] cf. Müller, F., Streitfall Todesstrafe, p. 147

[60] cf.

[61] Weinman Lear, M., Of Thee I Sing, l. 35

[62] Weinman Lear, M., Of Thee I Sing, l. 41

[63] Weinman Lear, M., Of Thee I Sing, l. 45

[64] Brusch, W., The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, p. 133

[65] Brusch, W., The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, p. 134

[66] Brusch, W., The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, p. 136

[67] Carter, J., Fresh Faith in the Old Dream, p. 150

[68] see footnote 62

[69] see footnote 26

23 of 23 pages


The Death Penalty in the American Democracy
The American Dream
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Death, Penalty, American, Democracy, American, Dream
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Hanna M. Stoll (Author), 1999, The Death Penalty in the American Democracy, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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