capital punishment as a failed

By January 8, 2017 Media

The death penalty has become one of the most publicized and controversial issues in society today. Since the winter of 1936, the debate over capital .

punishment has swayed from great public support to meager numbers of .

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proponents. In December of 1936, the first scientific death penalty poll was .

conducted and resulted in 61 percent of the populous “believe[d] in .

the death penalty for murder” (Acker, 27). The poll measured public .

sentiment about the death penalty in light of the exceptional media attention .

given to the execution of Bruno Hauptman, the alleged Lindbergh-baby .

kidnapper and murderer. Since this first capital punishment poll, there have .

been many others. A poll in 1966 indicated an all-time low in capital .

punishment approval ratings when support fell to 42 percent. Since then, .

support of capital punishment in the United States has grown an average of .

more than one percentage point a year. Surprisingly, in no year in which .

capital punishment polls were conducted, has a majority of Americans opposed .

the death penalty. .

One outstanding question arises in light of America’s acceptance of the death .

penalty: how has the deliberate and planned killing of “criminals” become .

such a desired and endorsed feature of our society? Public support for the .

death penalty has remained high; however, by government standards, capital .

punishment is regarded as cruel and unusual. The 8th Amendment to the .

Constitution provides protection from such punishment declared cruel and .

unusual. In the death penalty policy of 1890, only such things as “burning .

by the stake, crucifixion, breaking on the wheel, or the like” were .

prohibited. All of these things would definitely appear cruel and unusual to .

people today, the list of overly harsh punishments was expanded in 1947, .

after the electric chair failed to work twice in capital punishment .

executions. It was banned from use and declared another form of cruel and .


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