Capital Punishment in America What is capital punishment? The dictionary defines capital punishment as a noun that means putting a person to death. At the end of 2003 there were 3374 inmates at 37 state and federal prisons who were on death row. That number was an 188 decrease from the statistics in 2002. Forty-seven of theses inmates were female which was a thirty-eight increases from 1993. (Lacey, Bonner) Although the number of people on the death penalty decreased the number of females on death row increased.

Of the 3374 prisoners on sentenced to the death penalty fifty-six percent were white, forty-two percent were black, and the remaining two percent were of other races. Currently there are a total of nineteen states with the death penalty that do not allow the execution of juveniles. There are twelve states that to not allow the death penalty at all. Some of theses states included Alaska, Michigan, Vermont, and Maine. (Capital) Some states have a minimum age requirement for capital punishment. There are fourteen states that sixteen is the minimum age.

Mississippi and Arkansas are among theses states. Florida is one of the states where the age requirement is seventeen. Tennessee along with eighteen other states and two federal jurisdictions has the minimum age requirement of eighteen. Tennessee is one of the states that allow the death penalty.

Since 1976 there has only been one execution in Tennessee. However, prior to 1976 there were 335 executions. Currently of the 3374 people of death row 106 of them are in Tennessee with two of them being female. In Tennessee prisoners are given the option of serving life in prison without parole instead of the death penalty and execution. There are various methods of execution here in the United State of America. A prisoner can be executed by lethal injection, electrocution, lethal gas, firing squad, and hanging.

Of theses methods lethal injection is the most used, preferred, easiest way of execution. Hanging is rarely used. Prisoners in Tennessee are mostly executed by lethal injections, and executions. As of March 16, 2005, there had already been twelve prisoners executed in the United States. All of these prisoners were males and executed by lethal injection. There are many people who are against capital punishment.

People say that the death penalty is like trying to fix a sin with a sin. If a person kills someone and the states feels like in order to punish the person they should be executed and put to death... the question is... who in turn "punishes" the person who killed the prisoner? A popular slogan tat appears on the signs of activists reads "Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?" (Paielli) Other people and activists state that the death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. Some people agree with the death penalty because they think that it is a good deterrence. Deterrence means to punish somebody as an example and to create fear in others for the punishment. People who think this believe that if a person kills someone and in turn is executed for this crime it will eventually stop people from committing similar crimes.

People that are against capital punishment argue that no matte what the punishment is somebody in the world will have no fear and continue to commit crimes so therefore the only thing that comes out of capital punishment is more deaths. People that are for death penalty also argue that the only moral justification for killing a person is direct self-defense.


Bonner, Raymond and Lacey, Marc. "Death Penalty Statistics". New York Times. 12 September 2000.
Paielli, Russ. "A Common Argument Against Capital Punishment". Capital Punishment" 2003.