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!

BuddyJiles said...
Feb. 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm
Since when did the Bible control the USA ?
Redeem'cion replied...
May 29, 2012 at 4:06 am
If it was built on the Bible, then wouldn't that mean Capital Punishment is wrong? 
Pope and Young replied...
Oct. 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm
The Bible does not in any way rebuke Capitol punishment. If it does, would you be so kind and show me where? The Bible is a very bloody book.  It even supports some wars.  With the incredible technologies we now have in forensics, the justice system is not typically wrong. Why waste our tax dollars keeping criminals alive with three meals a day and cable television?  We are already in enough debt.  It isn't revenge, it is punishement for their previous actions. If people ... (more »)
aff96 replied...
Dec. 17, 2013 at 10:23 pm
We should keep religion outside this argoument. A religious book as the bible can not rapresent a law and should not be used to prove if a law is wrong or right. A religious book is subjected to very big interpretations and everybody can read what they want.  I'm against the death penalty, but not because jesus said so. 
RedDaisy said...
Jan. 28, 2012 at 2:38 am
A local TV show in my country stated that Death Penalty should be brought in to fight crime. But they do not analyze why there is so much crime. Social problems, economy, no jobs...these things make a man/woman turn to the things they should not turn to for help, such as drugs and stealing. And yet what will Death Penalty do? Justice for the rich. The law will sway to one extreme of the scale: greed, money, and power. An innocent, hard working man will not have money to pay for a lawyer; a per... (more »)
savetheplanet said...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm
I completely agree, the death penalty is a horrible form of punishment that stops nothing and only endangers the innocent. It even costs more than just locking them up!
Eskay replied...
Oct. 26, 2012 at 8:43 am
Actually, the death penalty costs less than life without parol (life in prison.) the most common form of execution is lethal injection, which only costs about $85. Life in prison is way more expensive and also gives the criminal the satisfaction of "beating" the system and winning. Where as the death penalty sends a message to others that they should not commit such crimes.
ControversyAtBest said...
Jan. 16, 2012 at 11:50 am
I agree completely with you. As the article said, innocents do get wrongly charged, and then what happens when you find the real criminal. "Woops, we murdered the wrong guy?" And another thing you hit in the article, if we are killing killers to show that killing is wrong, shouldn't at least half the government be subjected to this themselves? Especially when it comes to the fact that they just murdered somone who could possibly innocent.
Rogersright said...
Jan. 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm
i 100% agree with this . If you really want to punish people for awful crimes give them an awful punishment. Death to me just seems to be the easy way out. i would much rather the person spend the rest of there days locked in a jail house then being murdered easily .
purpleyobes said...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 7:12 am
I agree and disagree with this article . If someone kills a person it all depends on who they killed and why. If they killed someone for self defence they dont deserved to get punised. If someone kill the president they deserve the death penalty.
Aspiringauhor replied...
Jun. 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm
That's what the trial is for - to determine whether or not someone should be sentenced to the death penalty. The real issue at hand here is whether or not capital punishment should be allowed, which, clearly, it should not be.
ChickenLegHouse replied...
Jul. 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm

If someone kills the presedent then they sould get the same punishment as if they killed anybody else. One persons life is no more important than anothers just because of who they are.

I agree with you on the self defence part though.

bergKnayR said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:30 am
I completlyagree with ThunderBOLT12. There is no justice in murder. If a mand chooses to kill, he should be punished severely
Aspiringauhor replied...
Jun. 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm
So... Our government should be punished severely? They choose to kill every time they execute someone who was sentenced to the death penalty. Just saying.
Kiersten H. said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:28 am
Im very sorry but i strongly disagree with you. Some people diserve the death penalty and i have npo problem with that. I belive if someone killed someone else, for their punishment they should be killed. What they diserve is what they should get!
ThunderBOLT12 replied...
Jan. 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm
In a perfect world, there would be no need for a death penalty because no one would kill. But this isn't a perfect world, and Unfortunately there needs to be a death penalty. P.S. Kiersten, ROGATE rules!
thelogicoflove replied...
Feb. 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm
An eye for an eye will make the world blind.
Redeem'cion replied...
May 29, 2012 at 4:03 am
:) Sup! 
CalebA. replied...
Jun. 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm
That saying makes absolutely no logical sense; unless, of course, you are willing to provide such sense. I have heard this quote many times, but repitition and popularity do not necessarily form the premise for sound or reasonable arguments.
CalebA. replied...
Jun. 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm
K-Berg13 said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:20 am
What I don't get is if some one takes a life I don't get why the convict can get away with no charges or just 3 years. To take an innocent man's life is terrible. Those criminals should think before they acts and maybe we wouldn't need capital punishment.
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