Cruel or Humane?

death-penalty-3The constitution project was very interesting to me. I liked digging through the constitution to support my argument. The part that caught my attention the most was the cases that I chose to use the eighth amendment. Some people look at the eighth amendment in one way, which is that it prevents people from being executed. However, there is more than one way to look at this particular piece of the Constitution.

In Ohio, the family of  inmate Dennis McGuire claimed that his execution violated the eighth amendment which states, “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The execution took almost twenty-five minutes because a new drug was used that had never been used in a lethal injection execution. McGuire’s lawyer Allen Bohnert claimed that “The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their names.” During this turmoil, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Madden argued in response to McGuire’s lawyers that “you’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.” Mr. McGuire is entitled to a pain-free execution if that means none of his rights are violated. It is like Mr. Madden is saying that that right is no longer Mr. McGuire’s. Every person should have their rights, no matter what, until death.

I looked at the comments made to this case by random people. A lot of them did not care for Mr. McGuire’s suffering. In fact they think he should have suffered more. Yes I understand how much the family of McGuire’s victim, Joy Stewart, suffered because not only was she raped and murdered, she was pregnant. So does this mean that we treat these criminals with as much hate as people feel towards them? Does a human’s crime give other humans the free will to treat them differently?

gov postIf we were to add the Christian belief in this discussion, it would say other wise. As Christians, we are taught that no sin is greater than the other, that there are ten commandments we must follow, and that we do not judge because it is not our place to. The only person that can judge is God. In the bible there is a story about a woman who was sleeping with other men in her village and the people took her to Jesus so she can be stoned. In John 8:7 Jesus said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” No this does not mean that our justice system should just disappear, because without it this world would be chaos. This goes back to the Court System taking away any inmate’s rights. I understand that everyone wants the bad guy to suffer, but the bad guy is a person, a human being just like the victims.

On the other hand, one of the comments really got to me. “McGuire’s crime was cruel and unusual, a punishment inflicted on two innocent victims.” This is a clever quote that stood out to me the most. It made me stop and look at the case in a different way, that two innocent people were harmed and murdered. An unborn child was murdered. This was the eye opener that made me see why everyone was so against the protection of this man. I have been in a situation similar to Ms. Stewart. I understand that trauma, but I do not understand the loss of my child and my own life.

USSC, SUPREME COURT, KENTUCKY, DEATH PENALTYAt the end of this article, there is a poll that asks, will execution ever be humane? I answered no because to me the word humane is compassion, tenderness and sympathy. Humane is the more loving characteristics of a person, not the dark hatred ones. I am still siding with McGuire’s lawyer. In my eyes it is not about what he did makes it OK that he suffered a little bit. It is about a person’s rights, that are stated in the Constitution, are being violated. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that a person’s actions can take away their rights.



About SaintsGOV16
We are students in Dr. Ostroff's sections of U.S. Government at All Saints' Episcopal School in Fort Worth, Texas. (

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