Death Penalty Defence Thesis

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

– Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

 

We live in a world that for a long time, has killed human beings for a crime they were appointed guilty for. When you think about it, it’s a strange concept. We do something unspeakably inhumane to someone who originally did something unspeakably inhumane themselves. Believe it or not, there is an overwhelming amount of countries, states and continents on our Earth, which still uphold the capital punishment today. The top 10 (in order) are China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United States, Pakistan, Yemen, North Korea, Vietnam, and Libya. Although some places do appoint the death penalty more than others. For example, a study done in 2012 shows that through 2007 – 2012, China had over 2000 executions while Libya had 39. The thought of a government purposely killing over 2000 people within the span of five years is quite shocking, criminal or not. Killing a human being, in general, is not a very humane thing, no matter what they’ve done or who they are. It has been proven that throughout centuries, the death penalty has done nothing but harm us as a society. It contains much too many flaws which make the procedures of execution much too unsafe, unfair, very costly and absolutely barbaric. There is no doubt that in 2017, the death penalty should be abolished worldwide.

Executions have been a way of criminal justice used in our society for a very long time. According to researchers, the beginning of the death penalty laws go as far back as the Eighteenth Century B.C, and the death penalty was an option for 25 different crimes. They used methods such as crucifixion, drowning, beating to death, burning alive, and impalement. The death penalty also has a large chunk of its history in England. In the Sixteenth Century, under the reign of Henry VIII, an approximate 72,000 people were executed. They would use boiling, burning at the stake, hanging and beheading, put their criminals at justice. Most of the people who were being executed had committed crimes such as marrying a jew, treason and lying, which at the time were despicable felonies. Today, the death penalty is given to a wide array of felons which vary from each country. Most countries who practice capital punishment use it to punish acts of murder, sexual offences, treason, and espionage. Countries who are ruled by religion use it against religious crimes such as leaving an Islamic nation, an offence against the state religion, blasphemy, Islamic crimes and even witchcraft. In China, the death penalty is given to many people involved in human trafficking as it is currently a huge issue in their country, as is drug trafficking in Southeast Asia.

Today we now use slightly more “humane” methods, if executing someone can even be classified as humane, as someone being burnt alive or crucified is just taking it WAY too far. So instead, we inject them with a cocktail of fatal drugs, lock them in a gas chamber, and electrocute them as well as a few other “safer” procedures. In the United States, most executions are done by unqualified civilians who volunteer to do the process and sometimes even get paid a small amount. This is obviously completely unsafe and unfair to the inmate. A study done by a professor in the United States shows that through 1890 – 2010 8,776 people were executed in the U.S. and 276 of those executions (3.15%) were botched. Lethal injection had the most failed executions (85, with 1,054 total executions in this timeframe) and the firing squad had the least (0, with 34 executions). It is no secret that while being the simplest, lethal injection is the riskiest and unpredictable method of execution available. So my question is, why is it the most used method of execution in the 21st century? With the amount of progress and knowledge we have gained, it really confuses me that we still continue to use a highly dangerous procedure that has been proven over time to be unfit for use on any living thing. This on its own is a huge reason why we should not continue to do executions.

The worst thing about the death penalty is that the process of choosing who receives it and who doesn’t can be very biased. Research done in 2011 shows that in Louisiana, the odds of a death sentence were 97% higher for those whose victim was white than those whose were black. Another one found that in California, those who murdered a white person were more than 3 times as likely to be sentenced to death as those who murdered a black person, and more than 4 times more likely as those who murdered a Latino. Racism, xenophobia and prejudgment play an unfortunate role in our world and unfortunately, many people in positions of power are biased by their personal views while making life or death decisions about others. A study done in 2014 shows that jurors in Washington state are three times as more likely to recommend a death sentence for a black defendant than for a white defendant in a similar case. It’s just how most people are, and what makes our society the way it is, that everyone’s opinions and views differ. We all see what we want to see, and that’s okay. But, if that’s the case, then a decision such as whether someone should be put to death or not shouldn’t be allowed to be made by anyone. It seems incredibly unfair to let people’s opinions and views dictate whether someone deserves to live or not. Everyone should absolutely have the right to control their life, no matter where you live or what you’ve done.

Surprise! Killing someone for committing a crime does not reduce the amount of crime being committed. A good example of this is how the Southern states in the U.S. seem to have the highest amount of executions, 80%, and still somehow has the highest murder rates. There is a strong misconception here, that criminals actually will stop committing crimes because they fear being executed. Past U.S. President George W. Bush was and still is a strong advocate for the death penalty. During his five years through 1995 – 2000 while governing the state of Texas (which upholds the nation’s majority of executions) he presided over 131 executions, more than any governor had ever done as it is quite rare for most governors to approve executions. He believes heavily that “The death penalty, when properly administered, saves lives” and relied well on that statement during his presidential campaign to win. While Bush spent 2001 – 2009 as president, America’s crime rates stayed very stagnant. According to the FBI annual crime reports, the highest number of crime during Bush’s time in the office was in 2002, with 11,878,954 crimes and the lowest being in 2009, the year he lost his presidency to Barack Obama, with 10,762,956 crimes. Since Obama’s inauguration date was on January 20, 2009, he was essentially that year’s president, making Bush’s full last year 2008. That year had a crime number of 11,160,543, which was still the lowest during the Bush administration. It’s interesting because 2009 was the lowest crime had been since 1974 in the United States. And throughout President Barack Obama’s 9 years as president through 2009 – 2016, the numbers went lower and lower each year, the lowest they’d been for over 30 years. It’s also important to note that Obama did not support the death penalty, and 5 states stopped using capital punishment during his time. In 2015 (the most recent year which U.S. crime data has been released) the number of crime committed went the lowest it was during the Obama administration, being 9,225,197 which went down 1.935.346 from Bush’s lowest in 2008. If the crime statistics lowered dramatically in the U.S while under the administration of a president who did not support nor participate in the activity of capital punishment, after having a president whose campaign was built off how the death penalty saves lives and stops crime, is it really working?

And finally, not only is the death penalty dangerous, immoral and unfair, but it also costs A LOT. There are so many facts to back this statement up. In Texas, a death penalty case costs approximately $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years. Legal costs for death penalty trials in Kansas average about $400,000 per case, compared to $100,000 per case without the death penalty. A new study in California revealed that the cost of the death penalty in the state has been over $4 billion since 1978. Can you imagine that a country in billions of dollars of debt is forcing their taxpayers to dish out millions of unnecessary dollars to murder people? In Colorado, a death penalty trial can cost taxpayers up to $3.5 million, versus $150,000 for life in parole. These outrageous costs could save their population a lot of money that could be used to pay other things that are much more urgent than an execution of a criminal. An infographic shows that in Colorado, the money not used for the death penalty could be used for things such as paying 77 firefighter’s salaries, to buy more than 40,000 high school algebra textbooks, to provide one month of essential services to 10,000 elderly people, to give approximately 500 children access to the early start program and so much more. These are all such important things that the state of Colorado and many other locations are missing out on because all the money is being focused on one thing – executions.

It is without a doubt a pressing issue for the death penalty to be abolished worldwide. It has been a part of our history for thousands of years and is truly outdated in 2017. Executions are a cruel and unsafe practice, they can be biased and completely unfair, they do not prevent crime from happening and cost taxpayers everywhere a disgusting amount of money that is clearly being spent wrong. Our world is sadly filled with colossal amounts of crime, which will never be resolved. But I truly do believe that with proper reinforcement and practices we can diminish it. I think that it’s time for people to wake up, and realise that murdering a murderer is the most hypocritical thing we can possibly do. As Victor Hugo once said, “What says the law? You will not kill. How does it say it? By killing.”

References –

Death penalty statistics, country by country

Introduction to the Death Penalty

Capital Punishment in China

Botched Executions

Capital Punishment

Crime Levels: Countries Compared

Country vs. Country: Canada and United States compared

Bush and the Death Penalty

George W. Bush’s Death Penalty Catch-22

States with and without Death Penalty

The United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2015

Misplaced Priorities: An Infographic on the Cost of Death Penalty Trials

Weekly Assessment Meeting

Happening Now:

Make up course – will have things to post for Maddy for assessment.

Will be done section B by spring break.  The rest of the course is about working on people.  Needs to apply.  Ex: makeup for mature skin.

Plan to be done the full course by the end of the school year.

Assessment for Scientology:

Look for writing structure, organization, readability, flow, not repeating the same details.  Also, storytelling ability – when done reading the piece, are you satisfied – learned something.

Still reading Dianetics.  Done by beginning of March.

Started the infographic on cult vs. religion.  Will be done by the end of month.

Meet with Jessica to discuss science related inquiry.

Idea for a quick film – drawing tablet, photoshop, voiceover – for a final product for film course.

Need to find connections/develop deeper questions with religion/cults and greater society and government.

Needs:

None.

 

Mid Year Assessment Meeting

Goals:

Emma feels like she has made a lot of progress since September.  She feels that she has achieved goals.  Since it is her 3rd year here, Emma understands how the school works.  She is highly self-motivated.

She has gone more in depth into crimionolgy – cartels –  and has done deep learning there.  She is now moving towards cult and religions and is doing strong inquiry.

Make up quest – how to do makeup on people (making them feel comfortable)?  How to work in the industry?  How to be clean and safe? Emma can see things that she has not seen before.  She is taking an online professional course.  Emma now looks at people and can see how they can better themselves.  Ex skin, eyebrows, etc…

She is reading more.  Listnening to podcasts.  Reads a lot of articles.  Improved finding worthy sources.  Also made improvements in writing – especially over the course of the last few years through providing better exmples and backing up her ideas more fully.  When writing about her passion, she gets better results.

Math is going well.  Generally understands it.  Making progress.  It has been worse.

 

Future:

Become a certified makeup artist.

More make up learning in general.

Learn more about cults – especially Scientology.  Compare/contrast cults  and religion.

Looking at forensics for science.

Doing work experience with a mortician.

 

Structures/support:

She can’t think of anything specific.  Just keep checking in weekly.  Already a highly independent learner.

Structured plan of everything that needs to get done course-wise by the end of the year.

 

Feedback:

Needs more help organizing herself.  Break things down into smaller tasks.

Diversify further in her makeup portfolio representation.

Keep track of sources and cite them properly.

Read more books.

Improve persuasive writing.

 

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Throughout my entire life, I have always had very ambitious and large dreams of what I want to accomplish. In my mind, I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about living a “normal” life, living in a “normal” place and working a “normal” job. I’ve always seen myself as the CEO, and not the employee. I think a lot of people think I sound pretty conceited because of this. But it isn’t my fault I aspire big.

I get asked A LOT about what I want to do with my life once I graduate high school. And it’s not like most people even care, or that it’s their business what I plan on doing with my life. But I think being a makeup artist is a very non-traditional career, so people tend to be more inquisitive about it. If someone tells you that they plan on working with law, it’s usually pretty easy to guess what their career will look like in 10 years. Unless they plan on becoming the next Judge Judy.

It’s really annoying when you tell someone your life plans and they stomp all over them. It’s a pretty recurring event for me. I have gotten to a point where I usually don’t talk about them much to people because I always get told: “Oh, how are you gonna do that?” “Well, it’s good to dream!” and the classic “Wow, but you’re so young! I’m sure your ideas will change once you become an adult”. The truth is that most people find it hard to see a 16-year-old girl living in a mansion in Bel Air, working as Kim Kardashian’s personal makeup artist and part-time best friend in the near future. So I’ve stopped telling everyone what I want to do, and I tell various fabricated lies instead. When I get asked the golden question, I reply with “Hmm, I don’t quite know yet”. Even though I’ve really been looking at apartments in Los Angeles for the past year or so, and thinking about my future is what motivates me to continue living.

I believe that many adults have absurdly low standards for teenagers and their future. When I do tell people that I have my future pretty well planned out, they usually are very surprised. Which is sad to me. Because the truth is, a large majority of teenagers graduate high school and go to college to get a degree they’ll never use. They get some standard job and live an average life. That’s what our society seems to perceive as “normal”. There is nothing wrong with that. But why aren’t adults pushing and encouraging us to do our best and make our dreams become reality? As a human being, you have the power to do anything you want with your life. Nothing is impossible. Sure, it might not be easy, but the only thing that holds you back is excuses and those you make up.

If I knew that I could not fail anything, I would probably just continue doing what I do now. I have many aspirations that I would like to achieve in my lifetime, and failing has never crossed my mind. I am confident in myself, and I’ve always known that I can do anything if I work hard enough. I think the biggest cause of my motivation is to prove everyone wrong once I do succeed. One of my most favorite quotes is by RuPaul. In one of his books, he wrote: “Even when I was down, I treated myself as a star, and eventually, the rest of the world would catch up”. I live by this every day. I continue to work hard and push the limits, so I can realize my dreams. Because I know that if I don’t do so, and just live an average and normal life, I will regret it.

Busting eyeballs Special Effects makeup

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This look is definitely very eye-catching! I had really enjoyed making my loose eyeball in one of the looks I did a couple months ago, and I had a craving to do more. This is kind of like the upgraded version of that one. Somehow in my deranged, disturbing mind I came up with the idea of having a bunch of eyeballs protruding from my eye area.

To make the eyeballs, I sculpted them using cotton balls and rolling them in liquid latex. I made about 20 different eyeballs, varying in different sizes. Once they dried, I painted on a thin wash of a yellowish brown colour to give a more realistic effect, and then added the details.

I covered my real eye with a cotton pad, which is my favourite method since one usually covers the entire eye and eyebrow. I stippled liquid latex over it carefully and added some tissue around and over the cotton pad to blend it into the skin. With more latex soaked tissue, I built a “wall” around the area of my eye I just covered to create the hole for my new eyeballs. I stuck them all in individually with liqud latex and added small pieces of thinned out cotton balls around them to hold them all there.

Once the prosthetic part was done, I painted the whole thing with red, brown and black water activated paints and drowned myself in blood. I made sure to not completely cover the eyes in blood so the details wouldn’t get lost.

I love creating these eyeballs. I want to explore making different body parts in the future, like fingers or maybe organs. I also think it would look super cool to do this on both eyes, although I’d have to do that on a model considering it’s very difficult to maneuver around with one eye covered, let alone two.

Avant-garde clown bodypaint

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For this creation, I was honestly inspired by the aesthetic of creepy clowns, old carnivals, and American Horror Story’s fourth season “Freakshow”. I had also just received the wig that I’m wearing in the photo and wanted to do a cool look with it. I really love the colour scheme I chose, I think that the reds, pinks, white and black look beautiful yet slightly creepy. I did a lot of blending and shading, especially with the neck part, since I wanted it to look messy and dirty. Lightly blending the brown colour under the scallops of the neck piece really defined it and made it pop. This is my favourite avant-garde/bodypaint type creation that I’ve done so far, and I can really see some improvements within each look I do.