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 Mar. 26 2011 at 12:21 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.

That comment was meant for the other comment PurpleFeather made, the one where Txdragon replied. 

on Mar. 26 2011 at 12:20 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.

Actually, I have never harassed you. The way I remember it, you went after me on every single comment I made (for some odd and unknown reason). When I said he needed to see a psychiatrist, I was being sarcastic and kind of making a joke. I am not certified to make any diagnoses, as you should know. I know that when someone thinks something different than me they're not sociopathic. I never said he/she was. I was simply making a counterargument to his/hers argument. I am "on the same side" as you, so to speak. I honestly don't know why you are insulting me. 

on Mar. 26 2011 at 12:15 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.

To Jakethesnake:

Not all murderers enjoy killing the people they kill. You are generalizing, something that cannot and must not be done when debating about the death penalty.


on Mar. 26 2011 at 12:12 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.

Also, prisoners have these things called "prison accounts." They have money in them, that family members can put in. They buy other things with that money. The only things the prison provides them with are the three basic meals.

on Mar. 26 2011 at 12:10 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.

Actually, jails won't become overcrowded if we make the death penalty illegal. Other people who don't have life sentences can get out, creating more room for other prisoners. Prisons are fine. As for the money argument: The death penalty costs roughly six times more than keeping someone in prison for life. You tell me which you (or your parents) would rather pay. I am under the impression that less money paid is better. In your opinion, getting killed is getting off easy. I'm sorry if this is offensive, but I find that kind of disturbing. I realize everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I am not trying to make you change yours.

on Mar. 26 2011 at 12:04 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.

Yes, prisons may be crowded, but you would spend roughly 6 times more if you were to kill them with the death penalty rather than keeping them alive for the life sentence. Either way it's tax money, but with a life sentence, it's less. 

on Mar. 26 2011 at 12:02 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.

It's actually been proved by multiple studies that the death penalty has not made crime rates go down significantly at all.

on Mar. 26 2011 at 12:01 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.

To alanahlovee:

There have been over 150 cases reported to the government of innocent people being executed. Only after they had been executed did investigators find evidence leading them to believe they were innocent. Also, a murder does not have to necessarily be thought out. It just has to premeditated. There is a difference between premeditation and planning and thinking about it. Premeditation just means that you thought, "I'm going to kill this person." Planning and thinking about it means, "I'm going to kill this person with a Colt revolver and then hide the body. Oh, this will be so good," or something of that nature. Also, planning and thinking about it means that they would think about it more than once before they did it, while if it was premeditated, they only might have thought about it once five minutes before they killed the person. A murderer can do either, however, only people with very sick, twisted minds would do a lot of planning and thinking.


TheJust ELITE said...
on Mar. 13 2011 at 7:49 pm
TheJust ELITE, Ellenton, Florida
254 articles 202 photos 946 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I feel that a hero is somebody who will stand up for their values and what they believe in and that can take any form. People that have values and have thought them through rather than those who just do what they’re told."-Skandar Keynes

"When it’

I completly agree! When you kill someone, unless it's in protection of you or your family, you make a choice that is irreversible. You make the choice to take a life, you deserve the same as the person you killed. You didn't care about that person, why should you deserve anything different?

on Mar. 13 2011 at 5:31 pm
jennywalsh24 SILVER, Woodbridge, Virginia
5 articles 0 photos 8 comments

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

I agree with this completly! Why is it right for the government to murder,but when a common folk kills it is ok? This is totally government hypocrisy. And one of the American rights is life, so why are we taking that away.

Good job on this article! You said it well!:)


on Mar. 13 2011 at 2:01 pm
Beachgirl1 PLATINUM, Bellevue, Washington
32 articles 4 photos 178 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If You Don't Fight Back, You've Already Lost."
"Don't suppress Laughter, it goes to your thighs."

a life for a life right

but do we really know what is after death

is that fair?


on Mar. 10 2011 at 11:20 pm
ilovedayna BRONZE, Story, Wyoming
3 articles 4 photos 77 comments

Favorite Quote:
i love you

i'll back you up on that!

on Feb. 12 2011 at 12:59 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.

So you agree with me? :)

on Feb. 10 2011 at 4:49 pm
Hawthorn BRONZE, Nowheresville, Maine
3 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Know Thy Enemy" Sun Tzu

Yes being killed painlessly is probably one of the "Better" ways to go. I say better because no one WANTS to get killed unless they are crazy and if they are crazy, REALLY crazy, then they are technically not as responsible for their actions. I think that it would be more constructive to try to get the criminals to reform.

on Feb. 10 2011 at 4:40 pm
Hawthorn BRONZE, Nowheresville, Maine
3 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Know Thy Enemy" Sun Tzu

Algae administration?

on Feb. 10 2011 at 4:39 pm
Hawthorn BRONZE, Nowheresville, Maine
3 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Know Thy Enemy" Sun Tzu

Exactly, we simply don't have the right to decide who lives and who doesn't. Who are we to judge what might drive someone to murder?

on Feb. 1 2011 at 8:04 pm
alanahlovee BRONZE, Monroe, Ohio
2 articles 1 photo 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Bleeding heart, he called her. Well, he should know. He was the first one to tear it to pieces."- nineteen minutes, jodi picoult

I agree with the fact that if a person didn't want their family to grieve if they get the death penalty, they wouldn't have committed the crime in the first place.

on Feb. 1 2011 at 7:58 pm
alanahlovee BRONZE, Monroe, Ohio
2 articles 1 photo 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Bleeding heart, he called her. Well, he should know. He was the first one to tear it to pieces."- nineteen minutes, jodi picoult

Also, it is a very rare that innocent people suffer the death penalty. Has it happened? Maybe a few times, but a majority of the time, it is the guilty party who is punished.

on Feb. 1 2011 at 7:56 pm
alanahlovee BRONZE, Monroe, Ohio
2 articles 1 photo 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Bleeding heart, he called her. Well, he should know. He was the first one to tear it to pieces."- nineteen minutes, jodi picoult

I disagree, but I do respect your opinion and see where you're coming from. I don't believe you can rehablitate a serial killer, or even a murderer for that matter. A murderer is someone who has thought out and planned taking the life of another, and went through with it. The person who was murdered can no longer live their life and fufill their dreams and wishes; their life has been stolen from them. I don't have sympathy for anyone who takes the life of another out of jealousy, greed, or any other senseless reason. Why should we use our tax money to keep them alive? Our prisons are already crowded. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. I don't believe a murderer should be given the gift of living his life out, even if it is from within a jail cell. He/she should suffer as the victim did. A murderer (for the most part, not that I can think of anyone who was forced to kill another) choses the crimes he/she commits, therefore we shouldn't look with sympathy at his sentence. If he didn't want the possiblity of death, he didn't have to commit the crime.

I say this because I don't think that keeping serial killers or murderers alive will help them realize their heinous crimes. Not all, but many of these convicts don't feel remorse for what they have done. Sure, they make fake it, but do they really? I know if someone killed someone I was close to, I wouldn't be wishing them to a life in jail, I'd be wanting them to suffer the same fate the person I knew did.

Just my opinion.


on Jan. 28 2011 at 8:31 pm
PurpleFeather BRONZE, Canton, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 124 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The pen is mightier than the sword." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

ASpiring Author,

I find it interesting that you have previously harassed me about being negative and mean, yet when TxDragon states his opinion, you tell him that he needs to see a pyschiatrist because of it. This is rather hypocritical.

Just because someone thinks something different from you doesn't mean that they are sociopathic.



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