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Capital Punishment Is Dead Wrong This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Murder is wrong. Since childhood we have been taught this indisputable truth. Ask yourself, then, what is capital punishment? In its simplest form, capital punishment is defined as one person taking the life of another. Coincidentally, that is the definition of murder. There are 36 states with the death penalty, and they must change. These states need to abolish it on the grounds that it carries a dangerous risk of punishing the innocent, is unethical and barbaric, and is an ineffective deterrent of crime versus the alternative of life in prison without parole.

Capital punishment is the most ­irreparable crime governments perpetrate without consequence, and it must be abolished. “We’re only ­human, we all make mistakes,” is a commonly used phrase, but it is tried and true. Humans, as a species, are famous for their mistakes. However, in the case of the death penalty, error becomes too dangerous a risk. The innocent lives that have been taken with the approval of our own government should be enough to abolish capital punishment.

According to Amnesty International, “The death penalty legitimizes an irreversible act of violence by the state and will inevitably claim innocent victims.” If there is any chance that error is possible (which ­there always is), the drastic measure of capital ­punishment should not be taken. Also, it is too final, meaning it does not allow opportunity for th accused to be proven innocent, a violation of the Fifth Amendment which guarantees due process of law.

District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ­argued against the death penalty: “In brief, the Court found that the best available evidence indicates that, on the one hand, innocent people are sentenced to death with materially greater frequency than was previously supposed and that, on the other hand, convincing proof of their innocence ­often does not emerge until long after their convictions. It is therefore fully foreseeable that in enforcing the death penalty a meaningful number of innocent people will be executed who otherwise would eventually be able to prove their innocence.”

As humans, we are an inevitable force of error. However, when a life is at stake, error is not an option. The death penalty is murder by the government. As a nation, we have prided ourselves in our government, its justice and truth. However, can we continue to call our government fair if we do not hold it to the same rules we do its people? Murder by a citizen will have consequences, yet a government-approved ­murder is not only acceptable, but enforceable. What message do we send the American people, and other countries, for that matter, if we continue to be a ­nation that kills its citizens, a nation that enforces the most barbaric form of punishment?

The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty states, “We don’t cut off the hands of thieves to ­protect property; we do not stone adulterers to stop adultery. We consider that barbaric. Yet we continue to take life as a means of protecting life.” No person, government-affiliated or not, has the right to decide if another human is worthy or unworthy of life. Our natural rights as humans, which cannot be taken away by the government, include the right to life. Humans are not cold metal coins that lose value; no act, no matter how heinous, can make a person less of a human being. However, for most it is easy to ­forget that each of the 1,099 executed since 1977 are fellow humans, not just numbers.

According to Amnesty International, “The death penalty violates the right to life.” Capital punishment contradicts our moral beliefs and claims of a fair and just government. The U.S. must join its political ­allies – including Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, South Africa, and most of Latin America – that have abolished the death penalty.

The death penalty is favored by some as an effective deterrent of crime; however, it is proven that states with the death penalty actually have higher murder rates than those without. It is proven that our nation does not need this extreme threat of punishment to prevent crime. In 2006, the FBI Uniform Crime Report revealed that the area of the U.S. that was responsible for the most executions (the South with 80 percent) also had the highest murder rate, whereas the Northern areas that had the fewest ­executions (less than one percent), had the lowest murder rates.

It can be said that the death penalty is the most overlooked form of government hypocrisy; we murder people who murder people to show that murder is wrong. It is this contradiction in policy that confuses criminals and undermines any crime deterrence capital punishment was intended to have.

Many people favor the death penalty as reparation for the wrong done to a victim’s family; however, in most cases, closure is not the result. Losing a loved one, no matter how that person is lost, is unbearable, irrevocable, and shattering. Pain like this is shocking and the victim’s family holds onto the hope that the execution of the murderer will bring relief and closure. Nevertheless, when execution day arrives, the pain is not eased. No relief can be gained, for their pain is an unavoidable, natural process of life. Victims’ families have founded such groups as the Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation and The Journey of Hope, which oppose the death penalty. They ­believe that they are different from those who have taken their loved ones and they demonstrate their ­difference by refusing to sink to a murderer’s level.

Capital punishment is immoral and a violation of natural rights. It is wrong for everyone involved: the prosecuted innocent, criminals, victims’ families, and our nation. We need to replace the death penalty and capital punishment with life without parole, a safer and more inexpensive option. The death penalty does not guarantee safety for innocent victims, it does not follow the goals and promises of our nation, it does not effectively deter crime, and it does not give closure to victims’ families. Nothing good comes of hate, and nothing good can ever come from capital punishment. It cannot continue to be accepted by a nation that claims to have liberty and justice for all. The death penalty is murder on the sly and it’s dead wrong.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 467 comments. Post your own now!

not jeff said...
Aug. 27 at 11:33 pm
This was very helpful
 
not jeff said...
Aug. 27 at 11:33 pm
This was very helpful
 
bella rose said...
Jul. 3 at 11:51 am
people aren't on death row because they donated to charity. they're on death row because they murdered and raped people.
 
dabaroniandcheese replied...
today at 2:28 pm
same boiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
 
Zane said...
Apr. 4 at 8:09 pm
Well I think the Capital Punishment should be banned. I mean, the whole reason the punishment is made is to make sure no one gets hurt right? And if you are executing someone that is murdering someone. It defeats the whole purpose of the punishment.
 
john said...
Feb. 9 at 3:14 pm
This is so funny, i am died in tears
 
ScarletCityThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 20, 2015 at 10:38 pm
Capitol Punishment is the whole, "An eye for an eye, tooth for tooth." And, if we don't subject them to the death penalty, what do you suggest? Letting them rot in jail? Besides, these are not innocent lives. Their murderers
 
Biteme replied...
Jul. 14 at 10:25 pm
"Letting them rot in jail" is a whole lot better than ending their misery. They get to decide that they fucked up and teach other to not do the same. Killing a murderer doesn't make a solution. You're an ignorant cunt.
 
hunterrjordan10 said...
Nov. 6, 2015 at 11:39 am
I disagree with Olivia H. on her piece, “Capital Punishment Is Dead Wrong”. She says,” There are 36 states with death penalty, and that needs to change.” I don’t agree with her because if someone actually deserves it, and they have killed many people, they should be put to death for what they have done.
 
JUST_SAYING replied...
Dec. 2, 2015 at 3:25 am
hey in a way you are right but don't you think when the government is allowing people to take other people's life, they are pretty much saying vengeance is okay. i just think the if the government allow it they will not be leading us by example because they are saying since they murderer killed someone now they have to kill the murderer to show everyone that killing people is humane.
 
alissagraves said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 2:40 pm
The article says, “There are 36 states with the death penalty, and they must change,” and I completely agree. You also talk about how it risks the punishment of the innocent, and I agree with that as well. Death penalty is dangerous and easier than spending life in prison without parole.
 
CalebRJ said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 1:08 pm
Your piece on capital punishment reflects views similar to mine as it explains how the specific policy is morally unsound in society today. One particular part in the piece explains exactly as I see why capital punishment need be abolished, it writes, “It can be said that the death penalty is the most overlooked form of government hypocrisy; we murder people who murder people to show that murder is wrong.” This logic of government hypocrisy, a government acting in ways denounced by itself is... (more »)
 
Sheebell101 said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 1:07 pm
I agree, especially when saying Capital punishment “is an ineffective deterrent of crime versus the alternative of life in prison without parole.” Spending the majority of a lifespan full of guilt and in prison makes them suffer their consequences more than capital punishment.
 
trinriley said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 1:03 pm
I agree with all that was said. Capital Punishment is “dangerous risk of punishing the innocent, is unethical and barbaric, and is an ineffective deterrent of crime versus the alternative of life in prison without parole” and should be abolished before anymore innocent people get murdered for a crime they didn’t commit.
 
SommerJ said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 9:58 am
I strongly agree with capital punishment is dead wrong. No human being should ever take the life of another. I think this because once you are dead there is no coming back. The story said “There are 36 states with the death penalty, and they must change” I believe that should change.
 
IM BEGGING said...
Oct. 22, 2015 at 7:12 pm
Keep going please
 
AgegeBreadThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 29, 2015 at 2:09 pm
Murder is wrong no matter what. Then you turn the people who carry out the punishment into murder. Those people in the firing squad, they may feel horrible inside or something. They're murderers. If you want justice, the victim should carry it out. But can a dead person take revenge on his or her killer? No. And then, for the people who commit crimes such as disembowlment, come on, prison is there. For life. Whipping. Bad diet. Wicked labour. Cut off their leg, but don't do too much, or you may ... (more »)
 
RightWingExtremistThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 6, 2015 at 11:27 pm
Murderers are the most vile people on the planet, and as "BjornNorth" said somewhere down in these comments, murder is an unjustified killing. Executions are not unjustified killings because the person being executed is not innocent, therefore not murder. I believe executing the people who earned the death penalty is for the good because these people are the worst among and they shouldn't be tolerated to live among us, not even among the prison population. Murderers have taken the most fundament... (more »)
 
KingCobraaa said...
Apr. 27, 2015 at 3:13 am
The truth is once you realize just how bad the underbelly of crime is, you can't help feeling happy that they are removing vermin from this planet.
 
LittleRedDeliriousPrinceThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 17, 2015 at 1:04 pm
I agree with everything you said. In fact I was thinking about this last night, what with the man responsible for the Boston Marathon incident being given the death sentence and all.
 
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