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On July 3rd, 1995, John Smith left his prison cell and was marched forcefully down the long corridor toward the outside of the jail. Having been convicted on the charge of murder, John, who was a father, friend, husband, and son, looked as if he had thrown his life away and was sentenced to death. The guards shoved him up against the wall, preparing for the firing squad to shoot. John closed his eyes, and the last thing he ever heard was the loud bang! of the shotguns.
Oh, he was innocent. Oops.
That specific incident didn’t happen, by the way; it was meant to be representative of the multiple cases where the United States government has failed concerning capital punishment. There have been 138 incidents where people who have been sentenced to death row have been released after evidence proving their innocence surfaced, irrefutable proof that the United States has killed innocent American lives through its administration of the death penalty.
If this reasoning isn’t enough to turn someone against capital punishment’s place in the United States, then I have no idea what will. However, there are seemingly endless facts that call for capital punishment’s end as a form of justice that refute any argument that supports the death penalty.
No one can dispute that the death penalty is expensive. While life in prison also comes at a high cost to the state, the ability to handle the cost of life in prison is much easier. Imagine that you bought a house for three hundred thousand dollars—you would rather pay off that cost over a period of forty or fifty years instead of paying it in one year. Not only does the strict time limit damage the state’s budget, but the cost of death penalty trials are significantly higher than other trials of lesser punishment. Money that is wasted on more lawyers, more preparation time, and more appeals could be funneled back into the community to support other, more proven forms of crime deterrent.
Yes, more proven forms of crime deterrent. As supporters of the death penalty like to argue, the institution of the death penalty in a judicial system lowers the crime rate, and if one murder can be prevented, it makes all the problems that come with capital punishment worth it. While there have been studies that show deterrence and studies that show no significant difference between states that administer and states that don’t, one fact is crystal clear: there is no solid foundation to argue that the death penalty deters crime. Most murders occur in the heat of the moment, anyway; criminals do not stop to think about the consequences of their actions.
Given its indisputable killing of innocent lives and its uncertainty as a deterrent of crime, it is fiscally irresponsible and almost offensive to the taxpayer to expect them to finance capital punishment.
I always hear people say “well, if one of your loved ones was killed, it’s amazing how much different your view would be.”
No, what’s amazing is that the United States is the only Western Industrialized country to still administer the death penalty.
What’s amazing is that the government deems it constitutional to hold an inmate on death row for 20 years before his or her execution, a clear form of cruel and unusual punishment.
What’s amazing is that the death penalty is still legal when a blatant racial bias has been discovered by numerous reputable sources.
John Smith’s prison door is unlocked, but this time, he walks away and returns to his family. Evidence proving his innocence has surfaced. Good thing capital punishment was abolished.