The Death Penalty Process.

Essay by cofdawnnUniversity, Master'sA+, June 2003

download word file, 7 pages 5.0

More than 3,700 men and women were serving death sentences in American prisons on January 1, 2001, according to the U.S. Dept of Justice. Many of these people have been on death row for decades, waiting as their cases work their way through the appeals process. Some will die before ever having to face the execution chamber. Between 1977 and 1982, the years immediately following the reinstatement of the death penalty, there were a total of two executions. In 1999, there were 98 executions, and in 2000 there were 85. An overwhelming number of these executions were carried out by lethal injection.

The capital-punishment process begins when a person is convicted of a crime and sentenced to death. However, the execution can be delayed for years while the condemned prisoner makes his appeals to the courts. In the meantime, the prisoner lives in a section of a state or federal prison called death row.

The specific events that follow can vary from state to state, but the overall process is generally the same. Once a prisoner's appeals are exhausted, an execution order is given and a date is set for the execution. The condemned inmate may be moved from the general condemned housing area into a special area of the prison, called deathwatch. This area may be housed in the same building as the execution chamber. Some states move the inmate to another prison -- a central prison where executions are carried out. In the final 24 hours before the execution, several people, including family, friends, attorneys and spiritual advisors, can visit a prisoner. These visits take place in the deathwatch area or a special visitation room, and are halted sometime during that last day. In the final few hours, several events take place in preparation for the execution. They...