An issue that has continually created tension in our society is capital punishment. Capital punishment is the legal infliction of the death penalty. It is carried out in the United States in the following harsh ways: electrocution, hanging, firing squad, lethal injection, and the gas chamber. The death penalty has imposed throughout history for many crimes, ranging from blasphemy and treason to petty theft and murder. Ancient Roman and Mosaic Law endorsed the notion of retaliation; they believed in the rule of "an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth." Similarly, the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, and Greeks all executed citizens for a variety of crimes. The most known people to be executed were Jesus and Socrates.

Common historical methods of execution included: stoning, crucifixion, burning, beheading, shooting, and hanging. These methods are considered cruel and unusual punishment today. There are currently 3, 269 people on death row right now. All of these waiting to be put to death by a fellow human being. If we use these figures to see what the death row population will be in 2061.

There will be an alarming amount of 700, 000 at this rate. There were seventy-four people executed in the United States in 1997. Thirty of those people still claimed their innocence at death. A report conducted by the death penalty information center identifies sixty-nine people who have been released from death row since 1973 "after evidence of their innocence emerged." The death penalty is wrong and also unfairly administered. First, females are a very small percentage of death row, although they commit over twenty percent of murders. Second, there are more nonwhites on death row.

A black man who kills a white person is eleven times more likely to be put to death for that crime tha if it where a white man. Third, it has been proven that if you have money you can get away with murder. If you are poor, there's no way out. The possibility of an innocent being convicted of murder and put to death in America is growing.

The risk of executing innocent people far outweighs any good that can come from capital punishment. Some argue that capital punishment is a deterrent of crime. Studies show, however, that states with the death penalty have a higher crime and murder rate than those without. It is also shown that those states that institutionalized the death penalty has not had any decrease or change in the crime rate. Finally, there has been no record of change in the rate or number of homicides in a given city or state following an execution. Any possibility of deterring a would be murderer from killing has little effect.

Others say it cost more to house a criminal for life than to have them killed. But, the cost of execution has become increasingly expensive while the life sentence becomes increasingly more economical. The cost of execution in Texas is $2, 316, 655. This high cost includes $265, 640 for trial, $294, 240 for state appeals, $113, 608 for federal appeals (over six years), $1, 135, 875 for death row housing. In contrast, the cost of housing a prisoner in a Texas maximum-security prison single cell for forty years is estimated at $750, 000. This is also a large amount of taxpayer's money but it is an investment in the safety and morality of our society.

For the past decades capital punishment has been one of the most hotly contested political issues in America. This debate is a complicated one. Capital punishment is a legal, practical, philosophical, social, political, religious, and moral question. The bible says, "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man may his blood be shed." But, is this really up to us We decide who lives and dies. The bible also says, "Vengeance is mine, say eth the Lord." We are not meant to be the judges. We cannot make these decisions fairly.

These people who are on death row are criminals, there's no disputing that. They have been tried and convicted. We are talking about how they should be punished. It is a far worse punishment to have no freedom and all the time in the world to think about why you lost it. Are we not murderers ourselves if we condone this Benjamin Franklin once wisely said, "Doing an injury puts you below your enemy; revenging one makes you but even with him; forgiving one sets you below him." We are no better than the criminal as a society by putting them to death.

Also, don't we teach our children it's not right to hit someone even if they started it To borrow an old phrase, "Two wrongs don't make a right." It doesn't solve anything to first set a rule and then use the same thing abolished to inflict punishment. That does nothing but make us murders ourselves.