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

July 27, 2008
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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This article has 472 comments. Post your own now!

IM BEGGING said...
Oct. 22, 2015 at 7:12 pm
Keep going please
AgegeBread said...
Sept. 29, 2015 at 2:09 pm
Murder is wrong no matter what. Then you turn the people who carry out the punishment into murder. Those people in the firing squad, they may feel horrible inside or something. They're murderers. If you want justice, the victim should carry it out. But can a dead person take revenge on his or her killer? No. And then, for the people who commit crimes such as disembowlment, come on, prison is there. For life. Whipping. Bad diet. Wicked labour. Cut off their leg, but don't do too much, or you may ... (more »)
RightWingExtremist said...
May 6, 2015 at 11:27 pm
Murderers are the most vile people on the planet, and as "BjornNorth" said somewhere down in these comments, murder is an unjustified killing. Executions are not unjustified killings because the person being executed is not innocent, therefore not murder. I believe executing the people who earned the death penalty is for the good because these people are the worst among and they shouldn't be tolerated to live among us, not even among the prison population. Murderers have taken the most fundament... (more »)
KingCobraaa said...
Apr. 27, 2015 at 3:13 am
The truth is once you realize just how bad the underbelly of crime is, you can't help feeling happy that they are removing vermin from this planet.
LittleRedDeliriousPrinceThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 17, 2015 at 1:04 pm
I agree with everything you said. In fact I was thinking about this last night, what with the man responsible for the Boston Marathon incident being given the death sentence and all.
Amai-kunThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 31, 2015 at 8:24 pm
I absolutely agree. Your opinion is stated in a thoughtful and eloquent way, and you've done a good job editing your piece as well.
bandgeek23 said...
Feb. 23, 2015 at 9:42 am
I agree with you a hundred percent. No one deserves to be executed for what they have done. Murder is the same thing as capital punishment. You're killing a person that killed another, just because it comes from the state doesn't mean it's right to execute a person.
Mikey123 said...
Feb. 1, 2015 at 6:51 pm
I agree and just want to note that it costs more to execute someone than it does to keep them in jail for life.
BjornNorth said...
May 2, 2014 at 6:13 pm
Murder is defined as 'the unjustified killing of another.' This is a legal standard. Capatial punishment is not murder since, by it's nature, it is sanction by the State. Cap. Pun. is the determination of a randomly selected group of your pers that your actions were so abhorrent that you are no longer fit to live amongst civilized society. It goes beyond mere life in prison because your actions, in capatil cases, was so abhorrent to make even even that option unpalatable. Does the sy... (more »)
Doctorbug replied...
Jan. 31, 2015 at 10:02 am
Very well put.
A Friend said...
Apr. 23, 2014 at 6:18 pm
LIsten, dont listen to most of the people on these comments. i agree with u. some people have died when they were completly innocent and the u.s government should set a good example and be the bigger person. Its morally wrong- hanging people,being shot to death,lethal injections- If we do this to other people wouldnt we be commiting a crime?? same thing with them dont get me wrong no one loves fairness and justice more than me and if you do some thing wrong u should face consequences but think a... (more »)
Joey replied...
Jan. 24, 2015 at 8:47 pm
What if the murderer killed YOUR loved ones? Would you want him to stay alive in jail that is paid by your tax money? And "murder" is killing an innocent. Killing a psychopath is not murder. It's preventation of more deaths of innocent people.
freedomseeker replied...
Aug. 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm
Yes! I totally agree with u Joey. if the same scenario goes on with no proper punishment, it won't take much time for many others to be killed so brutally. capital punishment is not murder! it is pure justice to the victim,thereby protecting the next victim! it is NOT taking revenge, it is preventing one more naive`m murderer from committing an irreversible sin! life should not be taken so smoothly, when the world around acts harshly!
kflynn119 said...
Jan. 31, 2014 at 2:30 pm
I totally agree with you. People go and kill others and then they get killed, not right. They should stay in jail and have to feel bad for the rest of their life for what they did. Its less painful for them to just get killed.
KrazEness replied...
Mar. 26, 2015 at 3:26 pm
Hmmmm, do you feel sorry for the murderer or something? "It's less painful for them to spend life in prison" WHO CARES? They killed someone, and how much pain did that person and that person's family go through? Just sayin.
RutvikS. said...
Jan. 31, 2014 at 2:27 pm
I don't think they should let the murders get away easily and they should pay the pricein jail, but the death penality is a great choice.
Aarif replied...
Jan. 31, 2014 at 2:35 pm
Joey replied...
Jan. 24, 2015 at 8:43 pm
But jail is the place that is paid by our tax money. Why should our tax money go toward keeping someone alive who took the right of someones life away?
Alex M. said...
Jan. 31, 2014 at 2:21 pm
I agree with you because they should also learn their lesson and stay in jail. They are pretty much just getting of easy with death.
Billy maze replied...
Jun. 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm
They are not getting off easy with death, and you wont learn a lesson from being in prison for the rest of you're just wasting your tax money on someone who will stay in prison and eat for the rest of his life  
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