Capital Punishment Is Dead Wrong | Teen Ink

Capital Punishment Is Dead Wrong MAG

July 27, 2008
By Anonymous

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.



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This article has 473 comments.


on Jan. 6 2011 at 5:02 am
Sri Palanisamy SILVER, Sewickely, Pennsylvania
6 articles 0 photos 14 comments

1. The death penalty costs almost three times as much life in prison: https://www.msu.edu/~millettf/DeathPenalty/6.html

2. There are plenty of cases where the lethal injection has been botched and caused plenty of pain. Google Angel Diaz. And this study by Lancet shows that many more are like him "A team of medical doctors reported in the British medical journal The Lancet that in 43 of 49 executed inmates (88%) studied, the anaesthetic administered during lethal injections was lower than that required for surgery."


on Jan. 6 2011 at 4:58 am
Sri Palanisamy SILVER, Sewickely, Pennsylvania
6 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Its actually the opposite. Look anywhere, and you'll see that the cost for the death penalty are higher. "the death penalty costs an average of $2.3 million per execution, three times more expensive than imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years."

https://www.msu.edu/~millettf/DeathPenalty/6.html


on Jan. 6 2011 at 4:56 am
Sri Palanisamy SILVER, Sewickely, Pennsylvania
6 articles 0 photos 14 comments
that's what life in prison is for.

on Jan. 3 2011 at 8:46 pm
Cali_MarDolce BRONZE, Hawthorne, California
3 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and its better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring! " - Marilyn Monroe<3

*typo: i meant disagree

on Jan. 3 2011 at 8:45 pm
Cali_MarDolce BRONZE, Hawthorne, California
3 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and its better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring! " - Marilyn Monroe<3

wow! i had a whole seminar discussion on this with my classmates and the majority of them said that criminals that commit heinous acts should have a death penalty!

i tottaly agree because we are not going to make justice by killing a person! We should seek for a diffrent tactic where they will learn their lesson. Killing a living person is inhuman, wrong and it won't get us anywhere!


Kyte. SILVER said...
on Jan. 3 2011 at 6:16 pm
Kyte. SILVER, Aurora, Colorado
5 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
It's OK to get mad at God, he can take it.

Urgh. Saying someone deserves to die is....sick! I'm sorry if this is mean, but NO ONE deserves to die at the hand of another!

on Dec. 23 2010 at 3:54 pm
Babygirl809 SILVER, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
8 articles 3 photos 19 comments
Maybe but it will make sure the person doesn't hurt anybody else. 

on Dec. 23 2010 at 12:17 am
Harvardstar BRONZE, Sugar Land, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 4 comments
but taking away the murderer's life wont change the fact someone died

on Dec. 20 2010 at 3:58 pm
Babygirl809 SILVER, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
8 articles 3 photos 19 comments
Don't get me wrong your article is good. I think that maybe we shouldn't use the death penalty as much. This is going to sound bad but... some deserve to die. Some crimes are unforgivable.  

on Dec. 16 2010 at 12:07 am
sweet_silent_surenity GOLD, Puyallup, Washington
16 articles 0 photos 52 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved- loved for ourselves or rather, loved in spite of ourselves." -Victor Hugo-

Take note that I am not commenting on the content of this essay, nor on your individual opinion. Thus, my comments are purely feedback on the layout of the essay. Because of your forward opinion, stated in the first paragraph, it is obviously an opinion piece. This opinion is restated over and over, not just again in the conclusion, but also in the body paragraphs. Henceforth, it feels to me, as the reader, as if I am reading a reiteration of an introductory and conclusion paragraph, rather than ever experiencing the "meat" of the essay. You also get off topic, suggesting that totally nonequivalent subjects give more reason for the reader to agree with the opinion of the writer, you. Also, you try to switch from an opinion piece to an argumentative. Either state the facts, or your opinion. Either make happy the logic thinkers, or those who already agree with you; otherwise you leave us all bored by the first sentence, and standing on the line as far as our opinions go, by the last. Other than these minor mechanical errors, I found it fine.


Burp23 BRONZE said...
on Dec. 15 2010 at 1:27 pm
Burp23 BRONZE, Hardeeville, South Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
-Lao Tzu

I would like to add that capital punishment can and will eliminate some of the failures on the government's part. Did you know that, on average, it costs about $40 a day to feed and house one convict. That works out to about $14,000 that government spends on one convict alone. From my understanding, there are quite a few million convicts in the American prison system at this very moment. So, a problem quickly becomes apparent there alone. Back to the one convict I mentioned earlier - assuming this man or woman was convicted for life, about $347k of taxpayer's dollars will have been wasted on one person. Lethal injection is a very simple process. Have you ever had blood drawn or donated blood? That is essentially the same process through which a convict is put down. Back to the money I described a second ago. Over the course of those 25 years, $347k is wasted on a man or woman who is doing nothing for society. Does it not make sense to eliminate the problem before it really starts to cost us? Think about it, if all of the mass murderers and serial rapists were to be put down today, the money that would have been used to feed and care for them could be put to better use fixing the deficit. I know killing someone is wrong, but what if you're doing it for the right reasons?

on Dec. 15 2010 at 9:00 am
We kidnap people (put them in jail against their will) who kidnap people to show that kidnapping is wrong. Is jail the wrong message? Also, missing from Olivia's argument are those being killed by the murderers who were not killed. Who speaks for them? Will Olivia H.?

Olivia7 BRONZE said...
on Dec. 10 2010 at 11:48 pm
Olivia7 BRONZE, Cavecreek, Arizona
3 articles 0 photos 9 comments
You are absolutely right. All life is sacred and we shouldn't be deciding who dies and who lives. That should be decided by God. The death penalty is murder and two wrongs don't make a right. How can we deny a living, breathing human being life? Life is precious.

on Dec. 8 2010 at 8:22 pm
TxDragon BRONZE, Saratoga, California
1 article 0 photos 61 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Come and Take it!" -citizens of Gonzales, Texas, when the Mexicans tried to take away the cannon used to defend their town.

The death penalty is not wrong.  First of all, not all killing is murder. for example, if you kill someone in self-defense, that's not murder.  For the same reason, putting someone to death because of the horrific crime he or she has committed is not murder.

Second, the death penalty is for people who have committed a gruesome crime.  Why should taxpayers have to pay to support a serial killer's lilfe in prison?

Third, the way criminals are put to death is by lethal injection.  They feel nothing.  The same cannot be said for their victims.  The people who receive the death penalty have no concern for human life.  Most of the time they would kill again, if released.  And as for the innocent people put to death, that rarely, if ever, happens. Also, people spend decades on death row, plenty of time to be aquitted. And with new technology, innocent people are less likely to be found guilty.


on Dec. 8 2010 at 8:12 pm
TxDragon BRONZE, Saratoga, California
1 article 0 photos 61 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Come and Take it!" -citizens of Gonzales, Texas, when the Mexicans tried to take away the cannon used to defend their town.

well, when it comes to learning a lesson, the perpetrators have learned a lesson, and that lesson is that if they kill an innocent person in a gruesome manner, they will die. Also, for your claim that innocent blacks are the victims of capital punishment, I'd like to see some statistics to prove that

on Nov. 29 2010 at 3:31 pm
Jakethesnake SILVER, Hernando, Mississippi
6 articles 0 photos 96 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Read, Read... Read everything, then write."-William Faulkner

You are thinking from the viewpoint of a completely sane person. These serial killers and rapists are all sick in the head. They ENJOY killing those people and will continue to do so until stopped by either A- a life changing experience or something that changes their personality or B- Death. It is why I believe in the death penalty.

Curly_Sue said...
on Nov. 23 2010 at 5:52 pm
Curly_Sue, Sand Springs, Oklahoma
0 articles 0 photos 75 comments
life without parole is already in affect. many people have life without parole. the only example I can think of is from a documentary i had to watch in my government class called "When Kids Get Life" it was really sad and heartbreaking. We also had to watch a video on the death penalty itself and they followed an inmate all the way through death row. There were numerous interviews with the man. It was obvious that he felt very remorseful but even so, he was still sentenced to die and no one could change that. I'd much rather have people get life without parole. It just seems like the right thing. We have to find it in our hearts to forgive and that takes time, but at least the person would still be there to forgive. After all, WWJD?

on Nov. 23 2010 at 3:41 pm
Jesuisbelle95 BRONZE, Lansdale, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
How is wasting away your life in a cell better than ending it? I'm not saying that the death penalty is right, but me personally would rather not suffer my life in a cell, if I murdered many people I wouldn't be able to live with myself. I know that what I did is wrong andI don't want to have to live with that my whole life.

on Nov. 23 2010 at 3:36 pm
PurpleFeather BRONZE, Canton, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 124 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The pen is mightier than the sword." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

I ocmpletely agree with this article. The death penalty is wrong and it is hypocritical. Plus, it is just illogical. If you want a crime to stop, then wouldn't the best way to that is punish the perpatrators in a way that teahes them a lesson or allows them to think about what tey have done? But with capital punishment, the perp is dead. They can't learn any lesson, and they can't teach any others that lesson. Thus crime continues.

I also have a problem with capital punishment because the innocent victims you mentioned are mostly African-American. Capital punishment is usually dealt out to black people, many of them who could've been proved innocent if they had had a fair jury or a good lawyer. And it has been proven that if you have a black man an d a white man that have committed basically the same crime (details aside), the black man will get capital punishment whiel the white man will get only jail. This is not right. I don't think capital punishment is right at all.


numbernine said...
on Nov. 23 2010 at 8:11 am
Part of your comment said that people believe we should respect all human life. Here's my argument to anyone who says that (not you amybug, other people): if someone doesn't respect others lives and would be willing to mangle them and disrespect their lives to the point of murder, they don't deserve the right to have their life respected. Or they deserve to have their life respected in the same way they respected their victims.