Capital Punishment Is Dead Wrong MAG

July 27, 2008
By Olivia Hoeft, Oneida, WI

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.



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This article has 472 comments.


on Jul. 27 2011 at 7:27 am
yousaypotato... SILVER, Peacedale, Rhode Island
9 articles 1 photo 44 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A good friend will bail you out of jail. But a best friend will be sitting right there with you saying 'Dang, we really screwed up this time.'"

TOTALLY agree with you, i think. I'm not actually sure bcuz i didnt read the whole thing...but captial punushment is murder. And we can't murder muerderers, because then we will become murderers ourselves. God and only God should have the power to take a life. And everyone deserves to live, no matter what they do.

on Jul. 23 2011 at 1:51 am
just.always.lexi BRONZE, Novi, Michigan
2 articles 0 photos 7 comments

 

I agree, why not just let those who are kept in prison and deserve to be formally and informally rot in a 6' by 11' jail cell anyways? A being higher than themselves will surley punish them, maybe not in this life, but in a higher place anyways. To waste the rest of your years away in solititude...that is a hell on Earth, most definitely.


M0429 said...
on Jul. 19 2011 at 7:19 pm
M0429, Memphis, Tennessee
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? – Epicurus

wrong, 2 of them recieved, one of them recieved only 5 years, but that is beside the point, which is that no one, not even someone as single minded as yourself, can agree that people who are calous enough to brutaly torture and kill 25 people, among them a pregnant woman, deserve to live.

on Jul. 12 2011 at 9:32 pm
RosePetal519 BRONZE, Perrysburg, Ohio
3 articles 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Carpe Diem" (Seize the Day)

The ending of a life in EVERY case is not "fair".  If that person has already killed someone hasn't there been enough death already?

on Jul. 1 2011 at 12:28 pm
BorderlineGenius777 SILVER, Lewiston, Idaho
7 articles 0 photos 80 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap, whence everyone must take an equal portion, most would be content to take their own and depart."- Socrates

I respect your opinion, but in my eyes, capital punishment is needed. some people are to dangerous to be left alive in this world. Take Charles Manson for example. he was an evil cult leader that persuaded his followers to murder several people, including a pregnant woman! and he is still alive because the "geniuses" in California gov't decided it was wrong to kill people for their crimes. I understand that sometimes it gets mixed up and innocents die, but there are just some people to dangerous for this world.

on Jul. 1 2011 at 9:50 am
WishfulDoer GOLD, Portland, Oregon
14 articles 0 photos 69 comments

Favorite Quote:
If ignorance is bliss, why is our country so complicated?

I pretty much agree with you. Our government uses death to settle its affairs, and that is wrong in so many sad, sad ways. As far as I'm concerned, even if you kill one rapist, there will be more, and if you kill one serial killer, there will be another. We can't exterminate our species for the good of our species; it just doesn't work.

on Jun. 27 2011 at 10:24 am
aspiringauthor_ BRONZE, Fairfield, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 326 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." - MLK Jr.

Okay... I'm sorry, but that had absolutely nothing to do with the comment that I made, or the comment that C.Pearl made. So, tell me, why did you comment about that? Yes, it was slightly on the topic of the death penalty, but from what I know, they did not receive the death penalty. They received life in prison. Do tell.

on Jun. 27 2011 at 1:25 am
swcricket98 GOLD, Williamson, Georgia
13 articles 17 photos 102 comments

Favorite Quote:
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Sorry that it posted twice -_-

on Jun. 27 2011 at 1:25 am
swcricket98 GOLD, Williamson, Georgia
13 articles 17 photos 102 comments

Favorite Quote:
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

I believe that capital punishment should be used in extreme cases. For example, if a person goes insane and kills his wife, he should go to prison without parole, and should lead a terrible life. But if someone like the woman in the recent trial about the mother who drowned her helpless child in a swimming pool, deserves to live, than I don't know who does. And I understand what I am saying is picking and choosing which cases should be capitally punished and which shouldn't, but that's what the government has to do. I believe there are some people that, until they are gone from existance, will NOT stop bringing harm to other people. EVEN in jail. Would you have liked Saddam Hussein to just go to jail? What about Saddam Hussein? Hitler? Should they be able to live an easy life being served 3 square meals a day when thousands of people died because of them? NO. Those are the types of people that don't deserve to live. Basically, it depends on the case. I also believe that you should have NO DOUBT IN YOUR MIND that the defendent is guilty before sentencing them to the death penalty.

That being said, it is a concern of who will take the life of the murderer. There will always have to be someone to inject the poison into the person's vains, or untie the rope that is holding onto the guilty person's neck.

It is a very very difficult topic to understand and act upon.

All in all, in the case of capital punishment, I believe it is necessary in some cases, while others just just lead a terrible life in jail.

Thank you for reading.


M0429 said...
on Jun. 26 2011 at 8:34 pm
M0429, Memphis, Tennessee
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? – Epicurus

two words: dnepropetrovsk maniacs

rockyraccoon said...
on Jun. 17 2011 at 8:02 pm
rockyraccoon, Fort Wayne, Indiana
0 articles 0 photos 54 comments

Favorite Quote:
today tommorow next month next year all look remarkably gray.

I somewhat agree with you killing is wrong and goverments that kill are usualy considerded barbaric but what about serial rapists, serial killers people like that yes there fairly rare but do people like this deserve to live and endure the same punishment as a guy who kills for justifiable vengence or who steals from other.

Emmy88 BRONZE said...
on Jun. 9 2011 at 8:50 pm
Emmy88 BRONZE, New Rochelle, New York
1 article 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."-Wayne Gretzky

Although there is much written, backed by information, you're article is slightly repetitive. The death penalty is an extremely rare sentencing and in most cases they have much time to repeal. Some may look at the fact that it is easier to get the death penalty rather than rot away in a prison. Perhaps it does bring closure to many families. 

glimmer BRONZE said...
on Jun. 9 2011 at 2:40 pm
glimmer BRONZE, Corvallis, Oregon
4 articles 0 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
My favorite quote is one by Albert Einstein-
"Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow."

I really agree with what you are saying, and I appreciate that you wrote about this subject- it's really tricky to wrtie about!

I also think that your writing was great! Good job:)


on May. 20 2011 at 2:36 pm
aspiringauthor_ BRONZE, Fairfield, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 326 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." - MLK Jr.

I actually never said that it was okay to kill multiple criminals through a firing squad. I said I did not believe his death was a death penalty. Soldiers killing others in war is not the same at all as the death penalty. Those people have not had a trial, or been on death row. The same as Osama bin Laden. And just to let you know, I like to debate the topic of the article, not side topics.

on May. 20 2011 at 1:29 pm
forever_an_artist BRONZE, Mint Hill, North Carolina
1 article 0 photos 25 comments
Aspiringauhor; I think you have been misinformed on that one. I was just researching this and death penalty is certainly NOT six times the cost of prison for life. It varies; and the main expense is not the penalty, it's the investigation leading up to that, which is approx. twice the cost of prison for life. 

on May. 20 2011 at 9:40 am
forever_an_artist BRONZE, Mint Hill, North Carolina
1 article 0 photos 25 comments

Wait a minute.

You say that it's "okay" to kill multiple criminals in a firing squad

but it's not "okay" to (in a much less disturbing way) execute one criminal?

Umm... interesting argument there.

Do you believe that when a soldier kills an enemy soldier in a battle, that's immoral?

Probably not; for when a soldier goes into battle, he knows that he is taking the risk of death for his country. Same with people; if they commit crimes, they know that they have the risk of death for that crime. It's part of life. The way it is.

And, no, I was not contradicting myself. You can believe that toothpaste is helpful without believing you should swallow it. Similarly, I believe that the death penalty is reasonable, without believing that they should use it before being absolutely certain of the criminal's offense. If it is not crystal clear, the criminal should be kept in prison. But if an offense is obvious after a thorough investigation, it is reasonable to give prisoners what they have brought upon themselves; the death penalty.


on May. 19 2011 at 7:51 pm
aspiringauthor_ BRONZE, Fairfield, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 326 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." - MLK Jr.

First off, I thank and applaud you for being so civil - many people on here are not. 

I'd like to point out that in order to believe in a concept, you must fully believe in it. When you say you don't agree with the way it is carried out, it contradicts your previous statements of strong disagreement. 

Also, you mention that the death penalty is not painful. Although we all assume that it's not painful, there is no proof. After all, the dead are dead. 

I knew immediately after I heard of Osama bin Laden's death, I'd hear about it on here. I have expressed my opinion to many already, and will do so here. I do not believe that Osama bin Laden's death should be considered the death penalty. First of all, the Supreme Court banned the use of firing squads as an execution method years ago, so it would not be a legal execution, if it was indeed the death penalty. Also, it was a mission carried out by the Navy in Pakistan, not by a doctor in a prison who knew exactly what he/she was doing. Lastly, multiple people were killed in the bin Laden raid, not just Osama. So, I do not think of his death as a death penalty. 


on May. 19 2011 at 10:05 am
forever_an_artist BRONZE, Mint Hill, North Carolina
1 article 0 photos 25 comments

I stand corrected. Yes, I should have read up on this topic before commenting, sorry about that. 

I think the death penalty as a punishment is reasonable. But just because I believe in a concept doesn't mean that I fully agree with the way it's carried out. The death penalty should be used with extreme caution; for it is not a light matter. Being falsely accused of a horrible crime and being executed for it, although it's not painful, would be one of the most miserable ways to die, an undeserved shame.

But do you think that it was unfair that they executed Osama Bin Laden? Who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent citizens? This isn't a rhetorical question; I am really curious to know wether or not you think that ending his life was wrong. 


on May. 18 2011 at 4:28 pm
aspiringauthor_ BRONZE, Fairfield, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 326 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." - MLK Jr.

Teresa Lewis, a grandmother with an IQ of 72. She was executed in Virginia in 2010 for allegedly murdering someone. After she was executed, evidence popped up - once again - that she was not guilty. The two co-defendants who were truly guilty received life sentences.

 

Claude Jones of Texas was convicted in 1989 and executed in 2004. David Spence - also of Texas - was convicted in 1984 and executed in 1997. Joseph O’Dell of Virginia was convicted in 1986, and executed in 1997. These men all have one thing in common. They were innocent and were executed.

You do make an excellent point, but make sure to research before you comment. Your uncle's best friend was murdered? I am very sorry to hear that. (I'm being serious.) But killing his murderer is not the answer. You can put it any way you want, but in reality, the truth is that the death penalty is murder. The reality is harsh, but it's also something we have to face.


on May. 18 2011 at 9:24 am
forever_an_artist BRONZE, Mint Hill, North Carolina
1 article 0 photos 25 comments

My uncle's best friend was kidnapped and murdered as a kid.

an innocent child died a brutal death. His murderer? lived. That is WRONG.

Yes; it's harsh to give the death penalty, but how can you say that someone who has taken someone elses life has the right to his own?

Yes, innocents have been sentenced to death in the past, which is horrible and not to be ignored, but what you have to understand is that today they are extremely hesitant in giving the death penalty. I have yet to hear of a modern case of undeserved execution.

You're article was very informative and well written. I see your point, how the death penalty appears to be a contridiction in itself. Killing for killing? No, it's not ideal. No, the world is not always perfect and peaceful. But how can you argue that it is unjust? It's hard core, it's not wishy-washy, but it's fair.



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