Capital Punishment: Life and Death Row

Capital Punishment: Life and Death Row


Is it ever right to kill someone? Are lethal injections really humane? Is capital punishment going to be around forever?

In some parts of the world the US is infamous for its continued use of the death penalty.

Using the BBC’s Life and Death Row – The Mass Execution as a backdrop, Dr Vivien Miller discusses the history of capital punishment in America. In doing so, she reveals how the death penalty divides the US along several different fault lines: race, gender, religion and region.

The first episode in a four-part series, Life and Death Row – The Mass Execution is a riveting and heartbreaking account of recent events that unfolded in Arkansas as drugs used in legal injections were soon to become unavailable.  The state planned to execute eight men in ten days, leading to a heated debate about the complicated legal, moral, and social factors that are involved in these kinds of decisions.

With lives on the line, and issues of racism arising, this is what some would call a ‘21st-century injustice’…

“It’s much more likely that a black defendant with a white victim will end up with an execution.” – Dr Vivien Miller

Time Stamps:

00:54 – The topic we are looking at today: capital punishment.
01:25 – Meeting our guest Dr Vivien Miller.
03:21 – The documentary that we are looking at today.
04:08 – Why Vivien chose this film.
05:08 – What the film is about.
07:22 – Our first clip, featuring Jeff Rosenzweig, the lawyer for three of the convicted inmates
10:40 – Why the death penalty is still prevalent in the US.
13:40 – Our second clip, where different people say why they support death penalty
15:58 – The reason some people stay on death row for such a long period of time.
18:37 – The issues with some of the inmates’ original trials.
20:55 – The racial discrimination that’s prevalent in death penalty sentencing.
22:22 – Why the death penalty is so prevalent in the South.
26:52 – The supply problems with some of the lethal injection drugs over the last 10 years.
29:53 – When lethal injections don’t work.
30:45 – The argument that lethal injections are a cruel and unusual punishment.
31:27 – Our final clip, showing the advocacy group for abolition of capital punishment.
35:02 – What the future of capital punishment will look like in the US.
37:55 – Why capital punishment increased so much at the beginning of the 20th century.
40:25 – Why the use of the death penalty decreased after 1940. 


Life and Death Row, The Mass Execution
SoHo Radio
Alamo Pictures

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Episode 9