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Capital Punishment Is Dead Wrong This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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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.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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AgnotTheOdd said...
Jul. 14, 2010 at 12:49 am:
I believe in capital punishment because some people are just too much of a risk to handle.  Yeah we could throw them in a maximum security prison or whatever, but why would I want to waste my tax dollars providing food and shelter for murderers?  They are a waste of federal funding.  Right now, given the recession we're in, our country should be worrying about efficiency, ethics come second.  And for the record, firing squad is much cheaper than lethal injectio... (more »)
 
swimster23 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm :
I completely agree that Capital Punishment should not be a conclusion automatically jumped to, but in worst-case scenarios it can be the best possible solution.  If cops catch a mass murderer I believe that would be an apt time to use Capital Punishment.
 
pplofdac replied...
Jul. 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm :
Right, lets kill people so that we can lower our taxes...
 
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 21, 2010 at 4:52 pm :
That's a horribly close-minded way of looking at it.  We pay to provide food and shelter for people who end other peoples' lives.  For some reason, I'm not to keen on doing that.  Despite popular belief, death can be justifiable.
 
pplofdac replied...
Jul. 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm :

To deal with your initial point about taxes, most of the research surrounding the topic has concluded that the death penalty is actually costlier to the state (and thus the taxpayer) than a life sentence. This stems primarily from the various appeals that people on death row attempt. So in that way, your argument falls.

Nevertheless, I opted for a moral (albeit sarcastic) response. If you are so worried about high taxes, there are far better ways to lower them than proposing that inmat... (more »)

 
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm :

Watch yourself.  I said I didn't want to pay for housing them - food, shelter, all that jazz.  I never said anything about being against paying to ensure they are away from others.

And to reiterate, some people are too dangerous to not be killed.  I would rather pay to clean up the streets than to provide basic necessities for murderers.

 
pplofdac replied...
Jul. 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm :
You can "clean up the streets" for cheaper if you just give them a life sentence.
 
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm :

yes, where we provide them with the luxury of food and shelter, pay for it with our own money.  And still streets are filled with vietnam vets living out of cardboard boxes.

I'm not paying for the luxury life of a life-sentenced inmate.

 
pplofdac replied...
Jul. 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm :

You're mixing emotion with reason.

Just to summarize your options:

You can have them live their lives in abject misery and in a cell for a cheaper price (which seems like a punishment they deserve), or you can pay more money to kill them.

Are you, as a future taxpayer, willing to pay extra money? And are you, as a human being, willing to spend this extra money just to derive the satisfaction of killing someone?

Just think about what you are say... (more »)

 
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm :

To get philosophical, emotion and reason can coexist and intermingle.  They can indeed mix and are even reliant on each other.

In addition, I think you are misunderstanding me.  I support the death penalty.  That is I support the act of killing killers.  I do not necessarily agree with the current system in place in the US.  I find it horribly inefficient.  As you stated, a large part of the reason the death penalty is expensive is because of all the appea... (more »)

 
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm :

As a future taxpayer (I can play with italics too, pal) I would like to see my money go to a cause I (see there it is again) believe in.  And as a human being, I am paying money to ensure that no future horrible and brutal offenses are committed by that person.  Killing is never satisfying.  Don't imply it is.  There was a quotation by George R. R. Martin regarding execution that I find true and intriguing, "If you would take a... (more »)

 
pplofdac replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 6:04 am :

You don't get it.

It's been proven not to be a deterant.

And to suggest that the appeal system is wasteful is to suggest that no one on death row is innocent.

Finally, you're overarching theme here is making sure that these killers don't kill again. Well you can ensure that by giving them a life sentence - it's cheaper and they suffer more.

 
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 11:51 am :

It is hard to prove one way or the other that capital punishment is a deterrent.  But here is the evidence for my case.  In the United States, it is not the greatest deterrent because we waste too much time with people on death row and rarely ever end up killing them.  Compare this to Singapore, where the death penalty is a very quick and efficient process, there is far less serious crime.  Deterrents work against premeditated murder, and not crime of passion (in which cas... (more »)

 
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 11:54 am :

continued from previous post:  The appeal system is not wasteful, there just needs to be a cap on appeals in order to cut down on time and costs.  I was suggested that it be revamped, not eliminated.  I know there are some innocent people, and they'll be spared via their one appeal.  It's efficiency.

And they kill in prison.  Guards other inmates.  They could escape.  And its only cheaper (in the United States) because of the appeals which could easil... (more »)

 
swimster23 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 12:40 am :
I don't really care how much the murderer suffers I just want them out of my live knowing that he or she couldn't kill any more people.
 
pro-life replied...
Sept. 18, 2010 at 9:18 pm :
it costs more money to use one electric chair then it does for a lifetime in prison, check your facts
 
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Sept. 18, 2010 at 9:36 pm :
In and of itself, none of the execution methods cost too much.  All the money youre talking about comes from endless appeals.
 
pro-life replied...
Sept. 19, 2010 at 10:25 am :
but still, it costs more to send someone to death then to keep them in jail for their entire life
 
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Sept. 19, 2010 at 11:48 am :
Because of appeals.  Therefore, if you had actually been reading this thread, you would have seen my proposition to revamp the system...
 
qwertyqwerty123 replied...
Nov. 1, 2010 at 9:53 pm :
look agnottheodd. i did read the whole thread but the point that keeps coming back to me is what you first said at the beginning. ethics should never (ooh you're right italics are fun!) come second to efficiency. i'm not trying to be an idealist; i am being realistic. i know that times are hard and "revamping" the appeal system would make death penalty cheaper than a life sentence, but nothing is worth killing someone over. i respect your quote of deciding when someone deserves to die, but ... (more »)
 
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