It is a sad state we are in when we have people like Terry Earls writing in his article for The 21st Century that "we need the death penalty for all murderers. Period. No if-and-or-buts about it." Please, listen to the facts. Capital punishment is unfair since it discriminates against minorities and the poor.
Secondly, it puts a serious strain on the criminal justice system, drawing away resources from law enforcement that really put a dent in the amount of violent crime in America.
Third, the death penalty is used in less than 1 percent of all violent crimes; it does nothing and becomes an excuse for apathy and inaction in other steps in fighting crime. It is a terrible and barbaric substitute for real steps in stopping violence in today's society.
Fourth, it has been proven again and again that the death penalty does not deter people from committing crimes. And fifth, the death penalty allows no room for mistakes. Imagine if William Bennett, initially blamed wrongly by the media, police, and society for the shooting of Charles Stuart and the murder of his wife and son, had been put to death? One day after the terrible episode began, Carol Stuart died and state GOP leaders pressured Beacon Hill to pass the death penalty. The risk of executing an innocent person is too great. The release from prison of Jerry Banks in Georgia last December, wrongly convicted of murder and condemned to death is a sad reminder that the justice system has, does, and will make mistakes.
Finally, the role of the government in taking lives is so barbaric, cruel and horrifying that it corrupts our country and brings the United States down to the level of the criminal. The only major nations that have the death penalty are the Soviet Union, South Africa, and unfortunately, the United States.
Let's not bring our country back into the dark ages.n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.