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

July 27, 2008
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 472 comments. Post your own now!

AgnotTheOdd said...
Jul. 14, 2010 at 12:49 am
I believe in capital punishment because some people are just too much of a risk to handle.  Yeah we could throw them in a maximum security prison or whatever, but why would I want to waste my tax dollars providing food and shelter for murderers?  They are a waste of federal funding.  Right now, given the recession we're in, our country should be worrying about efficiency, ethics come second.  And for the record, firing squad is much cheaper than lethal injectio... (more »)
Aspiringauhor replied...
Apr. 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm
Well I am just so sorry that you think the "syringe" is the dumbest idea. It wasn't mine, you know. It was the U.S. government's. Take it up with them. And if someone is sentenced to death, they usually don't have a lot of appeals. Sure, more than usual, but not insane amounts, even though it's their life on the line. Please use proper capitalization methods and proper grammar as well when posting a comment.
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Apr. 11, 2011 at 12:23 am
They can appeal as many times as they like, compared to Britain's two appeals.  And I'm not writing an essay, not am I writing anything other than a comment on a forum.  There is no significant reason why i should have to use correct grammar or spelling.  But way to try to make yourself looks smarter by pointing it out.  See, you understood my comment, that's all that grammar comes down to -- understanding.
Aspiringauhor replied...
Apr. 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm
I know that they can appeal as many times as they'd like - they don't want to die! That doesn't necessarily mean that they do appeal very many times. If they (or their lawyers) believe that it is a lost cause, and the judge is not budging, then they obviously would not continue to appeal. And, actually, I didn't point out your grammatical errors for my benefit, as you seem to think, but for yours. Using the correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation in things that don't necessarily need them (i.... (more »)
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Apr. 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm
There are several instances where i didnt.  And my grammar in essays is just fine -- let's not be a grammar nazi.  "They usually don't have a lot of appeals" "I know that they can appeal as many times as they'd like"
Aspiringauhor replied...
Apr. 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm
Those two sentences had nothing to do with your comment. Please elaborate next time. I know there were several instances where you didn't, I was just observing that. I am not being a grammar Nazi, my original comments were about this piece, not your style of writing. I do not want to be talking about your style of writing, I'd rather be talking about the article.
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Apr. 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm

"I am not being a grammar Nazi"  "Please use proper capitalization methods and proper grammar as well when posting a comment".

Furthermore, writing style and proper grammar are different beasts.  "I do not want to be talking about your style of writing" I believe you brought that "style of writing" issue up.

And my previous comment was raising to separate points....

Aspiringauhor replied...
May 1, 2011 at 10:29 am
I really don't want to keep debating with you. This will be my final comment. When I said style of writing, I meant exactly that. It seemed to me that you were choosing to write like that, so it would indeed be your style of writing. Proper grammar is something you didn't have. Style of writing is something you were using. I don't know why, but you seem focused on a trivial topic, when all I really wanted to be talking about was the death penalty, which is what my original comment - and t... (more »)
AgnotTheOdd replied...
May 1, 2011 at 11:28 am

The same could be said of you, who says "i really wanted to be talking about was the death penalty" while you continue to give attention to the grammar topic.

Writing style is the way you write, the words you choose, the flow.  None of that was affected by the lack of capitilization or apostrophes.

Furthermore, you conveniently ignored the comment before the previous which was relevent to the conversation.  All I'm doing is pointing out your contradictory statements.

tianaxbiddy said...
Jul. 12, 2010 at 9:38 am
the death penalty is wrong. itg should have never been thought of. no matter what they did NO ONE deserves the death penalty. as gahndi said "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." the death penalty is an awful thing. i look ppl in the eyes and call them monsters the ppl who think it is right at least. we had a debate in my world history class bout this cuz of a current event i had. i lookd every1 in my class except a friend who agreed with me and i said "what if you were to kill and yo... (more »)
Maniacwriter said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 8:54 pm
Murder is never the answer. You have to remember that if you pit someone to death you ARE TAKING THE LIFE OF SOMEONE AND ITS OVER JUST LIKE THAT WHERE AS IF YOU PUT HIM IN JAIL HE WILL SUFFER FOR A LONGER PERION OF TIME
ThatGuy said...
May 31, 2010 at 11:14 am
One thing that I noticed is that nearly all of the people against the death penalty have never been remotely involved in it. Imagine if your brother, sister, mother, father, boyfriend, girlfriend, or any other being close to you was murdered. If anything, you would feel that it's a necessity that the murderer was put to death. There are a million different factors going into how and why that person murdered someone saying it's not their fault, but the fact still remains that they are a murderer ... (more »)
Aelita replied...
Jun. 3, 2010 at 8:39 pm
I agree with THatGuy!  If someone close to you- a good perrson who deserved to live was murdered, would you give their cold assasain a second chance at life?
VanishingEntity replied...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 11:39 am
Yes, I would. I'd have them locked up in jail so there would be no more harmed by the murderer, but I still don't think that I would want someone to die, just because they killed someone close to me. They have family too! Maybe one of them would murder me.
Aelita replied...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm
If you let them continue to live in jail, they can come back to hurt you or your loved ones.
VanishingEntity replied...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm
Not if they have a life sentence.
Aelita replied...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 7:22 pm
Unfortunately, that's wishful thinking.  I meant if they escaped- and yes that really does happen.
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 22, 2010 at 8:06 pm
Not to mention the whole thing about killing other folks in jail.  People will always find a way to kill others.  I am in accordance with Aelita: wishful thinking
Kassie#1 replied...
Aug. 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm
some people get out of jail( therefore a life sentance for example) for good behavior.
aaa-mister said...
May 19, 2010 at 7:42 pm
your opinion was good, but you really could use more stats to back up your points. you say things then just BAM next should have proof for everything you say. this is a serious topic and all opinions are welcome obviously but you really should think about the other sides of the story, like if someone gets hanged because they are a murderer to me, that makes perfect sense. but personally i am all for death penalty in CERTAIN situations. well done though.
suckerlove said...
May 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm

just watch it. i agree that capital punishment is wrong, but this makes sense. (:

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