Capital Punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the severest form of penalty for crime. The death penalty is illegal in some states. Whether or not the criminal deserves the death penalty will be decided by a jury. To be considered for the death penalty today, the crime must be no less severe than first degree murder which means murder with premeditation, the suspect must be convicted of murder beyond all reasonable doubts.

Some other factors considered by the jury are the age of the victim, the way the crime was committed, the number of victims and the history of the murderer. There have been five methods of execution since recent history: Lethal Injection, Gas Chamber, Electric Chair, Hanging and Firing Squad. Recently, most death penalties have been carried out by lethal injection. The process of execution is as follows. After the execution order is received, the condemned inmate is moved into a special security area of the prison. Based on hourly checks, the staff documents his / her behavior and brings anything unusual to the warden's attention.

The inmate receives priority visiting privileges; no visitors are turned away without authorization of the warden. Every effort is made to accommodate visits by the inmate's attorney including weekend or holiday visits if necessary. Two reports are prepared within three weeks of the established execution date. The first is 20 days before execution; the second is seven days before execution. Each report includes: Psychiatric report - Results and interpretation of examinations, interviews and history of the inmate by three psychiatrists which will be used to determine the inmate's sanity; Chaplain report - Comments on the inmate's spiritual and emotional well-being; Summary of behavior - Observations noted by case worker and custody staff; Cover letter from warden - Includes firsthand information from interviews, observations or communication with the inmate and his / her family or friends. Within 30 to seven days before the execution, the inmate's attorney may submit current psychiatric information that may have a bearing on the sanity of the condemned inmate.

This information will be provided to the panel of psychiatrists to consider in completion of the pre-execution psychiatric reports. The last 24 hours the inmate gets to enjoy his favorite meal, watch TV or listen to the radio, then he or she will receive a new pair of denim trousers and shoes. Just before the execution, the inmate is asked if he or she has any last words while three syringes are prepared with lethal chemicals. The syringes contain 5. 0 grams of sodium pentothal in 20-25 cc of diluent, 50 cc of pancuronium bromide, 50 cc of potassium chloride and are administered into the body respectively. After the application of sodium pentothal the inmate will lose consciousness, then the arteries will be blocked by the pancuronim bromide, and last the potassium chloride will stop the inmate's heart.

As required by law a physician is present to declare when death occurs. The body is usually claimed by the victims family, if not, it will be taken care of by the prison. From 1930 to 1967, 3, 859 persons were executed under civil (nonmilitary) jurisdiction in the United States. During this period over half of those executed were black, 45 percent were white, and the remaining small percentage were of other racial groups: American Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino. The vast majority of those executed were men; 32 women were executed from 1930 to 1967.

Three out of five executions during that period took place in the southern U. S. The state of Georgia had the highest number of executions during the period, totaling 366 -- more than nine percent of the national total. Texas followed with 297 executions; New York with 329; California with 292; and North Carolina with 263. Most executions (3, 334 of 3, 859) were for the crime of murder; 455 prisoners (12%), ninety percent of them black, were executed for rape; 70 prisoners were executed for other offenses.

During the same period, the U. S. Army (including the Air Force) executed 160 individuals, including 106 executions for murder (including 21 involving rape), 53 for rape, and one for desertion. Private Eddie Slovak was the first military personnel ever to be executed for desertion in 1945. The U. S.

Navy has executed no one since 1849. From 1976, when executions were resumed, until this year, there have been 820 executions in the US. This includes 66 during 2001 and 71 in 2002. About two out of three executions are conducted in only five states: Texas, Virginia, Missouri, Florida and Oklahoma. Texas leads the other states in number of executions. In late 2002, there were about 3, 697 prisoners sentenced to death in 37 state death rows, and 31 being held by the U.

S. government and military. About one point five percent are women. A hundred and two have been exonerated and freed since 1973, largely after having been proven innocent by DNA evidence.

In spite of the slight increase in U. S. executions between 2001 and 2002, the number of new death sentences decreased significantly. The death penalty issue has been the focus of much controversy in recent years. There are ample valid arguments on both the pro's and the con's side.

Pros would argue: society shouldn't have to pay for the upkeep of a criminal that is deemed too risky to ever be returned to society, the an eye for an eye principle, the only true justice for the murders is in the form of the death penalty, FBI studies have shown that it does deter crime. And Cons of this issue would argue: many studies have shown that the death penalty does not deter crime, the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment which violates the 8 th amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, and the chance of error in which the victim can no longer be freed after the execution has been carried out. This issue is still in heated debate in our society today and will be for the rest of its existence.