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.



Similar Articles

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

This article has 472 comments.


on May. 18 2011 at 4:22 am
Grace4297 BRONZE, McLean, Virginia
4 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Heads I win, tails you lose."

I see what you mean, and this is a  Are you sure that it is less expensive to keep them in jail for life without parol? I mean, you have to feed them, clothe them, and tend to their needs for decades and their may be trial for error with the death penalty, but some of the people that receive the death penalty are repeat offenders or their crime is targeted at children. These people paid no attention to the well being of others and took something irreplaceable. What if they escaped from prison? Also a error. That could scar a victim's family and terrify them. It could cause great unrest. What if the murderer came back? The places that have the death penalty usually have community stress. Like there was racism and murdering for years in the South and the government there had to have the ultimate consequence. Your piece is persuasive, and you make excellent points, but I disagree.

on May. 15 2011 at 5:11 am
BVBlover BRONZE, Glasgow, Other
4 articles 0 photos 9 comments
if you are going about it that way then you are essentially saying that the people who lived by the phrase an eye for an eye which isnt fair because someone could do more in 20 years than someone else could do in 80

on May. 5 2011 at 7:30 am
matthew1234 BRONZE, Shapleigh M.E, Maine
1 article 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
Uncertainly and mysteries are energies of life. Don't let them scare you unduly for they boredom at bay and spark creativity.
R.I Fitzhenry

I think that they need to be taken cared of if they murdder someone they should be killed I mean that is the fair way.

on May. 2 2011 at 1:46 pm
jennywalsh24 SILVER, Woodbridge, Virginia
5 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hope is alive as long as the sun exists." -Me

Yeah, I do agree with you. Haha:)

on May. 1 2011 at 6:03 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.

Wait... So you agree with me? Sorry, your comment was a little bit hard to follow. :)

on May. 1 2011 at 5:53 pm
jennywalsh24 SILVER, Woodbridge, Virginia
5 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hope is alive as long as the sun exists." -Me

That's a really good point! I never even thought of that. But now you mention it, I feel bad for the people who have to kill the criminals and I am sure it's hard for them.          But, sometimes, the 'killer' didn't really do it. If the person is executed after their innocence is discovered, it's too late and someone would probaly be killed also.And, if they are, there is still isn't a guarantee that the person is guilty. The executer would probaly feel extra bad and I'm sure whoever else was involved would feel bad too!

There is never a guarantee that someone is guilty!


on May. 1 2011 at 11:28 am
AgnotTheOdd GOLD, Aptos, California
17 articles 0 photos 315 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The reason for your unreasonable treatment of my reason so enfeebles my reason that I have reason to complain of your reason" ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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.


on May. 1 2011 at 10:49 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.

Yes, but how often do you hear about prison breaks? Not very often at all. I don't think I've ever heard of one. If your cousin has been there 12 times, he obviously hasn't been there for long periods of time. Prison gets a lot worse if you're there for the long run. Also, taxpayers also have to pay for the death penalty, which costs six times more than life in prison with no parole.

on May. 1 2011 at 10:44 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.

Yes, they could be killing innocent people, but does that give us the right to take their life away from them? It could be a serial killer or a druglord, but we can put them in prison for life instead of killing them. Think of the person who has to inject them with the lethal poison. Or of the person who has to pull the lever to electrocute them. Do we want to make them live with the guilt of also killing someone? There are so many things you have to think about before you say that it's okay for the government to kill.

on May. 1 2011 at 10:41 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.

Taking the life of someone is the same thing. It doesn't matter how it's done, or who did it. It only matters that it happened. So, yes, it is the same exact thing.

on May. 1 2011 at 10:38 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.

I agree with you on the fact that the death penalty is inhumane. What I disagree about is the "counter argument" thing. If you put that in your piece, it could be conceived as contradictory to yourself. You need to stay strong in what you believe in. I think the only time you could do what you suggested would be if you had a really, really, really strong argument against that counter argument. 

on May. 1 2011 at 10:29 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.

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 the article above - was about.

on Apr. 30 2011 at 7:03 pm
AgnotTheOdd GOLD, Aptos, California
17 articles 0 photos 315 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The reason for your unreasonable treatment of my reason so enfeebles my reason that I have reason to complain of your reason" ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

"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....


on Apr. 30 2011 at 4:47 pm
RainbowLeprechaun SILVER, Hanover Park, Illinois
6 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"...And your shame won't erase my features. The little girl still spins in circles, swinging her pigtails and studying her pure world. And i will make her proud." -Weezie Haley

I completely agree with you! It's not right letting them live

on Apr. 30 2011 at 4:44 pm
RainbowLeprechaun SILVER, Hanover Park, Illinois
6 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"...And your shame won't erase my features. The little girl still spins in circles, swinging her pigtails and studying her pure world. And i will make her proud." -Weezie Haley

True, yes, but i don't believe it's doing the same thing back, the government is getting rid of guilty people who destroyed innocent lives. I don't believe that's wrong.

Taylor said...
on Apr. 27 2011 at 6:51 pm
We execute people who lost their right to live because of the atrocities they committed against other human beings. Why should people not be punished for horrifyingly brutal crimes? They had no respect for that innocent person's life, why should they expect any in return? Harsh, yes, but I firmly believe that the death penalty is justified when the nature of the crime calls for it.

on Apr. 19 2011 at 3:22 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.

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.

on Apr. 19 2011 at 10:06 am
BabyGirlBrittany SILVER, Cincinnati, Ohio
8 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life isnt about finding yourself, Its about creating yourself,"

Im so sorry your family had to experiance that horrible pain. But... How can we sit here and say that what that man did was wrong but then do the same thing back? What he did was wrong, but we have to realize that doing the exact same thing we said was wrong is not making a point, Its just causing my damage and pain to the situation.

on Apr. 18 2011 at 6:24 pm
AgnotTheOdd GOLD, Aptos, California
17 articles 0 photos 315 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The reason for your unreasonable treatment of my reason so enfeebles my reason that I have reason to complain of your reason" ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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"

on Apr. 18 2011 at 3:15 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 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.e., comments) will help you to use it in essays or stories. Just a piece of advice. But I do notice that after I made that comment, you used correct grammar in your response.


SciArc

MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!