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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SarahG1997 said...
Dec. 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm
Since 1973, over 130 people have been wrongfully convicted and placed on death row throughout the country then proved innocent. In 2003 alone, 10 wrongfully convicted defendants were on death row.  Names; Daniel wade Moore Anthony Graves Seth Penalver and so many more
KingCobraaa replied...
Apr. 27, 2015 at 3:17 am
That doesn't justify the fact that most of the death row inmates get what they deserve.
TheSihlouettedMan said...
Jun. 12, 2013 at 9:33 am
So, what you're saying is... despite the murderers, terrorists, and psychopaths out there, (of whom have mentalities that cannot and will not change) that because we are killing a life (to save others I might add), that this is a nasty thing to do. I've got news for you, please wake up. I'd feel a bit more comfortable if evil wasn't walking my streets. Also, innocence hardly ever gets up there, and even if that is the case, that's prosecution error, not the penalty. And last,... (more »)
Wooping Crane said...
May 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm
Capital Punishment is first and foremost not murder itself, as murder is defined as "the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another" and captial punishment is defined as "the legally authorized killing of someone as a punishment for a crime". Not minding the "unlawful" and "legally authorized" parts of each of these definitions (as that is what is being questioned), these two definitions by themselves are drastically different, as one is a... (more »)
BjornNorth replied...
May 2, 2014 at 6:16 pm
Not wanting to mince words, as I liked your comment, premeditated murder is the premeditated killing of another. Murder, generally (premeditated, depraved heart, etc.) is just the 'unjustified killing of another.'
Mani said...
Apr. 15, 2013 at 1:42 pm
You say that killing a human being rather they are muderers or not is right? You just said that  they need to know what it's like to be human, yea they were wrong but 2 wrongs dont make a right no matter how you look at it,wether justified or not it's not going to bring back that victim of the crime and it's not going to make  either of the families feel better so whats the point in capital punishment  
Harrison95 replied...
Nov. 25, 2013 at 7:37 pm
It is inforced to save the lives of other innocent people so that the offender does not commit murder or rape again bc if someone is inclined to commit a capital crime such as, murder or rape they are capible of comitting that crime again. Think about this. Say your mom was raped and spared to live but your mom presses charges on such offender and is sentenced to prision for about 10-20 years. In anger of the sentence the offender plans ways to get back at your mom or even your whole family... (more »)
sarahhall replied...
Nov. 12, 2014 at 8:19 am
If a crime was so bad to have gained capital punishment, there is no way they would only get 10-20 years with option for getting out for good behavior. This writer is simply saying that instead of death, the offender should receive a life without parole sentence, which completely prevents them from committing the crime again.
Lilsexii said...
Mar. 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm
Some people need to be sentence to death. Some crimes are just un-humaily. People are just sick and twisted. People need to learn life and how to be a human being. Death is what put these uncontrolable animals to rest. On the other hand people keep saying, "what if the wasn't guilty"??. Nine to one they was.
MaxineA replied...
Oct. 16, 2013 at 10:12 pm
Is that one innocent life lost worth the punishment of the other nine? Put yourself in the place of that one, or his wife, or mother or father or child. Is it truly worth it?
manny89 replied...
Jan. 9, 2014 at 8:46 am
So what you are trying to say is that, that one life is not important? I imagine if it was a love one that was put to death being INNOCENT, you would not be saying this. 
jpweber said...
Jan. 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm
Frankly, you're precisely correct, Olivia.  Judicial malfeasance and corruption is inundated through the system, and many prosecutors will lie, cheat, and steal (metaphore) to get a conviction to hoist on their political resume. I know this is off-topic, but I also feel our prisons are overcrowded.  I am among the 53% (Romney figure) who pays federal income taxes, and why am I paying to lock up some dude who smoked a joint, or was 4 days late on a child support payment? For fut... (more »)
YoungLibertarian said...
Jan. 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm
I don't think anyone would have a problem sentencing James Holmes (Aurora shooter) to death.   The death penalty needs to be selectively applied. I don't think it should be used in a case in which guilt is not certain (even though that should yield no punishment). However, in mass shooting cases where the perpetrator is obvious, we might as well just get rid of the individual, saving money and emotional pain.
CynthiaNieves replied...
Aug. 30, 2013 at 6:22 am
I agree with you, and i would think it is the best thing to get rid of them right then and there, but it doesnt save money. It actually costs more money to kill them than to have them in jail for their lifetime. It's stupid, but sadly thats how it is.
BryceE replied...
Nov. 17, 2014 at 7:43 pm
How it is possible to cost more to kill them than to keep them alive? Food, Wages, utility, and maintnace of cells over 60 years nears in the millions. 
Dominik-the-donkey said...
Jan. 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm
I agree 100%, the death penalty is very wrong.  I especially liked the part about how we kill people who kill other people as a punishment.  I have never thought about it that way but it is very true, you can't commit the same crime as a punishment to those who cmmited it.  I also remember a story I heard about a man who was proven innocent after the day of his execution.  There was no bringing him back.  Great post.
SuporGoudSkilllz said...
Jan. 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm
Your only two points were that it's barbaric and you may kill an innocent man, which are weak arguments. When given the death penalty, the person is dead within seconds, compared to rotting in a cell, unhappy, and weak, tired of life. I'd rather die than live in a cell for my life. lso, it's expensive to run prisons. If we were to cut prison funding, and use capitol punishment, we would have more money to fix things like the fiscal cliff.
smarrie95 replied...
Mar. 27, 2013 at 10:51 am
You do realize that prison is PUNISHMENT, right? It does not matter what the inmate wants. Giving them death over rotting their life away is what they want. You're a little hypocritical aren't you? Not to mention, captial punishment costs MILLIONS of dollars a year just to leave the inamates awaiting their death for up to 20 years. How is that more cost effective? Do some research.
SFeathery This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm
So which is more barbaric? which is right, which is wrong?
CynthiaNieves replied...
Aug. 30, 2013 at 6:25 am
Well I would rather want them to kill them depending on their crime, but sadly it costs way more to kill them than to keep them in jail their whole lifetime.
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