Capital Punishment

January 20, 2011
By Emma Slade BRONZE, Lexington, Kentucky
Emma Slade BRONZE, Lexington, Kentucky
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Imagine yourself in a small, isolated cabin waiting to be led to your execution. A small, scrawny man comes to collect you. Your whole life rushes past you as you take your few, final footsteps to the execution chamber. This is the thought 7,000 people have experienced in the last 18 months. What is the true value of a human life and how can one trade it for another? Isn’t it said repetitively in religion and government that each life should be treated equally? Then, how are we allowed to condemn a person to death? No matter what way you look at it capital punishment is murder. Desmond Tutu once said, “To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, not justice.” Executing someone does not bring back the person that was murdered.
Executions cost more than life in prison. Executions cost around 2 million dollars per person and life in prison costs around 500,000 dollars. The greatest costs associated with the death penalty occur prior to and during the trial not in post-conviction proceedings. If we did away with the death penalty then states could afford to pay for better schools, fix highways and roads, and improve crime prevention efforts. Is the cost of execution really worth it when, for less than half the price, we could put a killer in a prison cell, locked away from society for life?
Crime rates have not gone down, in fact, the murder rate in the United States is 6 times that of Britain and 5 times that of Australia and neither country has the death penalty. Texas has twice the murder rate of Wisconsin, a state that doesn’t have the death penalty. Texas and Oklahoma have historically executed the most number of death row inmates, yet in 2003 their state murder rates increased and both have murder rates higher than the national average.
Jesus demonstrated his disappointment with those who oppressed others and those who defiled sacred spaces. At the same time, he rejected punishment for its own sake, noting that we are all sinners. Jesus also rejected revenge and retaliation and was ever hopeful that offenders would transform their lives and turn to be embraced by God's love. Pope John Paul II once said, “We are still a long way from the time when our conscience can be certain of having done everything possible to prevent crime and to control it effectively so that it no longer does harm and, at the same time, to offer to those who commit crimes a way of redeeming themselves and making a positive return to society. If all those in some way involved in the problem tried to . . . develop this line of thought, perhaps humanity as a whole could take a great step forward in creating a more serene and peaceful society.” Every human being is entitled to receive a second chance in life and seek forgiveness for the mistakes they might have made in the past. Most murders occur in the heat of the moment, unplanned. People aren’t thinking about the consequences when they kill someone so they deserve the chance to make amends or be forgiven.
Many death row inmates were convicted while being defended by court-appointed lawyers who are often the worst-paid and most-inexperienced lawyers. Very few states pay their state-appointed lawyers well enough to retain effective lawyers. Usually, it has been seen that poor people have to succumb to death penalty as they cannot afford good lawyers to defend their case. There are very rare cases of rich people being put on death row. Prosecutors seek the death penalty far more frequently when the victim of a homicide is white than when the victim is African-American or of another ethnic or racial origin. Former Illinois Governor, George Ryan once said, “In the United States the overwhelming majority of those executed are psychotic, alcoholic, drug addicted, or mentally unstable. They frequently are raised in an impoverished and abusive environment. Seldom are people with money or prestige convicted of capital offenses, even more seldom are they executed.”
The innocent may be wrongly executed or wrongly convicted. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 82 inmates have been freed from death row. That’s 1 death row inmate found to be wrongfully convicted for every 7 executed. Juan Melendez was a farm worker who was wrongly convicted of murder and spent 17 and a half years on death row. Juan said, “Lots of times I wanted to commit suicide while in prison. Beautiful dream of my childhood took me out of those thoughts. That’s God’s work.” There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime at his trial, only the testimony of questionable witnesses. The conviction was overturned when another man confessed to the crime. What if this man was executed? You can’t bring that life back. Another man, Carlos DeLuna was wrongfully executed in 1989. A Chicago Tribune investigation released in 2006 revealed evidence that Texas may have executed an innocent man in 1989. Carlos was executed for the fatal stabbing of Texas convenience store clerk Wanda Lopez in 1983. New evidence uncovered by reporters casts doubt on DeLuna’s guilt and point towards another man, Carlos Hernandez, who had a record of similar crimes and repeatedly confessed to the murder. For Carlos DeLuna it’s already too late, we can’t bring him back to life.
In conclusion, I believe that a better punishment would be to leave that person in prison for their entire life. If they are being killed with an injection or by the electric chair, the pain will only be a short time compared to the pain of a lifetime. There are many more things that could be done instead of the death penalty such as, life imprisonment, prison with parole, or rehabilitation or reformatories. Why choose the wrong one? I think if we do not put an end to the death penalty matters will only get worse. It’s scary to wonder when you might die, but it’s terrifying and nerve racking to know when you are going to die.

Similar Articles


This article has 1 comment.

on Feb. 3 2012 at 9:34 am
Jezabel PLATINUM, Ricmond, Virginia
35 articles 0 photos 53 comments

Favorite Quote:
In the end we will not the remeber the words of your enemys, but the silence of are friends.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

i have one name for you Karla Homolka.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!