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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ThunderBOLT12 said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:17 am
Although you have Noble intentions, the death peanilty is nessesary. For one, there is not enough prision room tho hold all of prisoners who are on death row. And there is the tride and true saying "an eye for an eye."
Raven-Mcdonald replied...
Jan. 15, 2012 at 8:39 am
I completely disagree, while an eye for an eye is a "Tried and true statement" No one should revert to revenge as a form of justice. And as for the lack of space for death row inmates, This is still no reason to kill people. no one should have to die because there isn't room for them!
ThunderBOLT12 replied...
Jan. 24, 2012 at 6:38 pm
They are not dying because there isn’t enough room. Yet. However, if we kept every criminal who killed someone, most likely more than once, we would have to build new prisons because the old ones would fill up. And I am a Christian. The bible states multiple times eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth, ECT. And before you say not everyone is Christian, it goes the same for the Jewish and Muslim people! If they have chosen to kill, to take a sacred thing, they should be punished accordingly... (more »)
ThunderBOLT12 replied...
Jan. 24, 2012 at 6:42 pm
Oh, yeah. Don't disrespect the bible by basically saying that it old and now inaccurate. It primarily teaches peace!
BuddyJiles replied...
Feb. 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm
First off the Bible does teach peace, but with many contradictions and flaws. And you say that there is not enough room in prison, I know the reason. Marijuana and other drugs usage being a crime. Also, if you as a Christian claim to love and accept all people then why would you support there death? But revenge is not the answer let karma pan out and give them a second chance. How about you think about your true beliefs and values before claiming yourself a Christian.
Redeem'cion replied...
May 29, 2012 at 4:09 am
Matthew 5:38-39 (KJV)
scottyman said...
Jan. 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm
you my dear are an idiotic fool and you cant evan began to understand the death penalty. my younger cousin of 23 years was shot in the head by a piece of criminal trash when he witnessed the man rob a gas station and now you are so bold to go online and post your foolish moronic adolesent thoughts online and say capital punishment is wrong? as the bible says "whoso sheddeth a mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed"
Raven-Mcdonald replied...
Jan. 15, 2012 at 8:49 am
Idiotic fool is a term more suitable for you my fellow writer. Although I understand what it is like to lose someone in something as undeniably diabolical as a crime, it is still not right to kill someone as a form of justice. And you must remember that the Bible was written in a time when it was right to hang someone for being different, when it was OK to cut someones hand off for stealing bread to feed their family. Scottyman, who are you to say that the writer can't understand the death penal... (more »)
anna_banana said...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm
This should have been a comment to the comment below me :D the article's grammar was fine..... lol
anna_banana replied...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm
ignore this... its soooo difficult to reply & im getting confused.
miss'pretty replied...
Dec. 9, 2011 at 8:46 am
Sorry to say but this story does'nt make any sence to me at all.
SeasonalFog said...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

You didn't address that prisons are overcrowded leading to more violence, a waste of innocent taxpayer's money, and that more people forced into a cell than the capacity allows.

Remember- Supreme court ruled that 3 people to a 2 person cell is "cruel ad unsual punishment" whereas the Death Penalty was not ruled cruel.

chandler said...
Nov. 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm
death is wrong both by normal people and wrong by government
Aspiringauhor replied...
Jun. 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm
Well said. Well said indeed.
baNANnan said...
Nov. 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm
I think you should correct your spelling.
Aspiringauhor replied...
Dec. 3, 2011 at 6:36 pm
I think you should comment on the content of the article, not on the mechanics.
anna_banana replied...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm
The comment belonged as a reply to the comment below me, I mistakenly posted it as a new comment, not a reply..... 
Aspiringauhor replied...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm
My apologies. Pay me no mind.
Bones96 said...
Nov. 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm
I agree somewhat. For murder I think that it should stand such as first degree and serial killing. I am not agesnt or agreeing with the death penlety.But if some has taken the life of more than on victum for the fun that is wrong and I would not just want that person to be in jail I would want that person dead. So for serial killing and murder first agree it should stand other crimes we should find other ways of punishing that person who did the crime. 
subliminal96 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 19, 2011 at 7:57 pm
I completely agree with you. An eye for an eye makes the world go blind
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