capital punishment as a failed

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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