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

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 464 comments. Post your own now!

anna_banana said...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm
This should have been a comment to the comment below me :D the article's grammar was fine..... lol
anna_banana replied...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm
ignore this... its soooo difficult to reply & im getting confused.
miss'pretty replied...
Dec. 9, 2011 at 8:46 am
Sorry to say but this story does'nt make any sence to me at all.
SeasonalFog said...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

You didn't address that prisons are overcrowded leading to more violence, a waste of innocent taxpayer's money, and that more people forced into a cell than the capacity allows.

Remember- Supreme court ruled that 3 people to a 2 person cell is "cruel ad unsual punishment" whereas the Death Penalty was not ruled cruel.

chandler said...
Nov. 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm
death is wrong both by normal people and wrong by government
Aspiringauhor replied...
Jun. 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm
Well said. Well said indeed.
baNANnan said...
Nov. 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm
I think you should correct your spelling.
Aspiringauhor replied...
Dec. 3, 2011 at 6:36 pm
I think you should comment on the content of the article, not on the mechanics.
anna_banana replied...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm
The comment belonged as a reply to the comment below me, I mistakenly posted it as a new comment, not a reply..... 
Aspiringauhor replied...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm
My apologies. Pay me no mind.
Bones96 said...
Nov. 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm
I agree somewhat. For murder I think that it should stand such as first degree and serial killing. I am not agesnt or agreeing with the death penlety.But if some has taken the life of more than on victum for the fun that is wrong and I would not just want that person to be in jail I would want that person dead. So for serial killing and murder first agree it should stand other crimes we should find other ways of punishing that person who did the crime. 
subliminal96 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 19, 2011 at 7:57 pm
I completely agree with you. An eye for an eye makes the world go blind
Raven-Mcdonald replied...
Jan. 15, 2012 at 8:52 am
I agree completely
packers22 said...
Oct. 5, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Capital Punishment is only the tip of the iceberg


Should capital punishment be completely abolished? Possibly.  But unfortunately there are much deeper problems with the judicial system. Take, for instance, the Casey Anthony Trial.  Regardless of her innocence, was it not absurd to have court on national television?  Some may call this increasing public awareness, which sounds very romantic.  Yet is it really?  Nationally televising a  trial... (more »)

dis kid said...
Sept. 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm

i think if some one kils a nother or raps a kid they should be killed.


lzcelloplayer said...
Sept. 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I very much agree with your opinion that capital punishment is wrong. I think that we should find a different way of punishing those who have committed murder. If we drop down to their level, then who will we be? Just because it is the government doesn't mean that they have the right to murder people themselves. 

I say we abolish capital punishment! 

Great work by the way! :D

Redwriter said...
Sept. 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

The goverment has been given a sword for a reason.

Not to say that you haven't given some good arguments, you have, and this is a very well written article. But, the fact is, capital punishment does deter some crime.

It definitely doesn't deter all of it. But there is a small percentage that will be intimidated by the fact that there will be justice. You say that it's a proven fact that countries with death penalty have higher murder ra... (more »)

swcricket98 replied...
Dec. 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm
I love this comment and agree completely.
Aspiringauhor replied...
Jun. 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm
I can state my sources, when I say that it doesn't deter crime in certain states. Just go to They're website that shows stats about the death penalty. And trust me, there are plenty of facts and percentages and any hard evidence you may need to see. So have fun checking out that source!
HeartBreaker2010 said...
Sept. 13, 2011 at 10:42 am
if the person who killed a loved one it doesn't really help the loved one, it just means they wanted the person who killed the loved one to feel the pain, but think again that's someone else's loved one too, its just doesn't make since. but this is so true. GOOD WORK!!!
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