Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Death Penalty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
     Constant debates rage over whether the death penalty is an accurate illustration of American culture, and if it’s even constitutional. One argument is that the justice system is hypocritical in how it portrays the death penalty. Another is that the death penalty is not morally right, and that morality is the foundation of our Constitution. Perhaps the most shocking argument is that the death penalty has negative repercussions on the American lifestyle.

The government constantly talks about how to make the world better and how to make America more civilized, but then it kills its people. The death penalty is a form of hypocrisy. One can infer that killing is wrong, yet the government’s solution to murder is to engage in its own slaughter. This side of capital punishment is barbaric.

The death penalty violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948). We treat prisoners like animals. Committing a violent crime does not make someone any less of a human being, and sadly, it seems a human trait to commit heinous crimes. Some believe it is necessary to execute certain prisoners to prevent them from repeating their crimes. This may be a valid argument, but there is always a risk that someone innocent will be executed. The death penalty will not prevent a person from repeating a crime he or she did not commit in the first place. On the contrary, one study found that the death penalty causes juries to acquit murderers due to the fear of making a mistake that would result in an innocent person being executed.

In addition, our legal system is prejudiced. In Southern states, eight percent of blacks convicted of murder receive the death penalty while only one percent of white murderers get capital punishment. Also, murderers are seven times more likely to get the death penalty for killing a white person than a black person. This strikes me as obvious prejudice. Senator Russ Feingold states, “The death penalty legitimizes an irreversible act of violence by the state and will inevitably claim innocent victims.”

Ruben Cantu is an example of an innocent person who was put to death. Cantu, 17 at the time of his alleged crime, with no previous convictions, was labeled a violent thief, gang member, and ruthless murderer. He was charged with third-degree murder. Soon after his conviction, Cantu wrote a letter to the residents of San Antonio stating, “My name is Ruben M. Cantu and I am only 18 years old. I got to the ninth grade and I have been framed in a capital murder case.” Cantu was executed at age 26, still proclaiming his innocence. Twelve years later, the sole witness who testified against him recanted, saying, “I’m sure the person who shot me was not Cantu. Being an illegal immigrant at the time, I felt pressured by the police to identify the boy as the killer.” He later said, “[Cantu] was innocent. It was a case of an innocent person being killed.” Cantu’s co-defendant, Juan Garza, has signed a sworn affirmation saying he allowed his friend to be falsely accused, and that Cantu was not even with him the night of the killing.

From the hypocrisy of the American judicial system to the sorrowful execution of innocent people, the death penalty is immoral and violates the human right to life. Capital punishment has stolen lives and needs to be stopped. One day, the American government will realize that the death penalty is unethical.

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




Join the Discussion

This article has 48 comments. Post your own now!

Jane B. said...
Mar. 5 at 7:27 pm
I agree totally. I believe that when you take a life then a 'balance' is uspet and to stabalize this balance another life would need to be taken. This sounds cruel but it's the truth why should you be able to kill someone and then get to live like a normal person the rest of your life?
 
ajclinton said...
Nov. 21, 2013 at 10:14 pm
i agree with your point, but when you bring the bible as a source of information on this topic. The bible isn't in favor of either arguement. Is murder wrong? ofcourse, But Our law allows the death penalty if it applies constitutionally. So if someone is sentenced to death row and is executed, the bible isn't against it. Why? well because the bible also firmly states that we must abide by the laws of our land.
 
CynthiaNieves said...
Aug. 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm
I agree and disagree with the article. In a way i agree because death penalty cost a lot more than keeping the prisoner in jail for life, but i disagree because some just dont deserve to be living better than some innocent people,
 
Midnight5765This 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. said...
Aug. 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm
I had actually written an argumental essay about the death penaly. I was against it. The bible already agreed with me. It is also cheaper to place people in jail cells than to kill them.  
 
Aidi replied...
Mar. 19 at 10:34 pm
Hello! Can i have a look at your essay....how bible agrees with  you...how it is against death penalty
 
GracieBlackburn said...
Apr. 29, 2013 at 7:52 am
From a  critizing point of view on this article, I must say that I have no criticism. It was strong, blunt, to-the-point, and made people think really hard about this topic. From a personal point of view, I agree. It's wrong to take a life. Only God has a right to do that. Of course, I don't think prison is wrong as it can save lives. This topic is hard to decide upon, but I think after reading it I'm against the Death Penalty.
 
wishingtheskywasbluerThis 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...
Oct. 3, 2012 at 2:45 am
i really liked the argument you made in this article. really well written.
 
jesscosse said...
Aug. 23, 2012 at 12:52 am
Let's think. If your children and spouse were viciously harassed and murdered, do you think that the murderer should be out in the open? In prison, he is sitting and wasting his life away with free food and sometimes television. Why should people spend their hard-earned money to pay for life-sentences? I believe in second chances, but if you are in prison for life, what is there to live for?
 
LiraDaeris replied...
Apr. 3, 2013 at 1:36 am
Agreed. The government is the only one that has the right to enforce the death penalty, even according to the Bible. It, though unfortunate, IS sometimes NECESSARY. However, it must be done on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the crime committed.
 
otherpoet said...
Mar. 18, 2012 at 12:35 am
You have a lot of really strong parts of this essay, and the example with Ruben, at least I found, really connected. You FORCE (in a good way!) people to think critically about a very serious issue and I applaud how well this is written. 
 
thejesusfreak said...
Feb. 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm
I believe that if you kill someone, and cut their lives short that your life needs to be cut short too. if you killed a 20 year old from a small winsconsin town its the same to me as a random 70 year old in NYC. they couldve had years more to love and live. if you cut the gift of life god has given us then you diserve it too. might not be right but thats my opinion.
 
jesus_saves said...
Nov. 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm
I agree everyone deserves a second cjhance. I beleive in JEsus and I beleive that thsoe who don't won't tgo to heaven. I don't think its right to kill(execute) someone when they might not go to heaven. Its not fair.
 
A_Fate_Unknown replied...
Jan. 23, 2012 at 1:19 am
Murder and rap.e are the two worst crimes in my eyes. Both should get the death penalty regardless of the circumstances. ( Unless it was self defense or something similar) Think of how the world would be a better place. Crime rates would be at an all time low.
 
Mtizzle replied...
Feb. 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm
so u would excute a seven year old child for killing his little sister? no matter what blood doesnt fix blood its only more blood i do agree that they r a danger to society but nothing a person can do to deserve death unless they started a world war
 
jesus_saves replied...
Feb. 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm
Exactly! We all make mistakes. Some of us make bigger mistakes than others but we all need to be given the chance to make things right
 
user said...
Oct. 3, 2011 at 11:13 am
its not fair for them to live they took someones life
 
FroBro said...
Jul. 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm
Why should a murderer get to live longer than an innocent they've killed? They'll end up costing us more in jail anyway.
 
user replied...
Oct. 3, 2011 at 11:15 am
because they took someone elses life but if their innocent then its realllly wrong
 
tikapeek97 said...
Jul. 10, 2011 at 9:00 am
I agree with the death penalty. If someone takes the life of another person why should they get to live. I think the death penalty should be stronger.
 
freeflow23 said...
Jun. 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm
Nice argument and very well written.
 
Site Feedback