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.

pro-life said...
on Sep. 18 2010 at 9:18 pm
it costs more money to use one electric chair then it does for a lifetime in prison, check your facts

on Sep. 18 2010 at 12:58 pm
patrickj96 BRONZE, Westminster, Maryland
3 articles 0 photos 21 comments

No, no, not at all. I'm simply saying that he wasn't mentally ill. I mean, yes, he seemed like he was crazy killer, but I don't think he was. And, I agree, some people don't have that part inside of them (ie, conscience) after they've killed that many people. (And, BTW, not all crazy people kill everyone. That's why we put those people in Asylum's.


on Sep. 18 2010 at 9:53 am
Jacki.Siwel BRONZE, The Shadowlands, Maryland
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story... in which every chapter is better than the one before."

The author obviously has an opinion on this issue, but must be careful not to let her voice drown out the argument.  The argument is very much one-sided.  She only mentions the way someone who is pro-capital punishment would view this once, and that only briefly and in little depth.  She does not address the fact, for instance, that someone who suports capital punishment would not consider execution to be murder, albeit this is precisely what the author calls it.  She does not defnd this initial claim, upon which most of her argument is based.

I personally have a very hard time swallowing the idea that capital punishment "confuses criminals."  A criminal knows that, if he goes on a killing spree, he might very well get the chair.  While you can argue the morality of that, I fail to see how anyone could be baffled by the fact.

JacobR** said...
on Sep. 18 2010 at 9:49 am
Hate to break it to you but Murder is Murder no matter how it is commited...

JacobR** said...
on Sep. 18 2010 at 9:47 am
Hey, I think your article was amazing and I agree with you totally. Capital Punishment is murder and murdering murderers(that's a mouth full) won't teach a lesson but teach other murderers to maybe even murder the murderer of the murderer. It's all very complicated, but CAPITAL PUNISHMENT=MURDER

on Sep. 6 2010 at 1:35 pm
mskullgirl GOLD, Waban, Massachusetts
14 articles 0 photos 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream -Edgar Allen Poe

I definatley understand your point of view I mean so they killed someone so now we get to kill them? Not the best example but there are so horrible horrible people out there. This one woman left her two children straped in their carseats and let the car drive into a lake. These are children! And she must have heard them scream. If anyone deserves the death penalty it's people like her

on Sep. 5 2010 at 1:49 pm
fibonacci112 BRONZE, Tampa, Florida
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
I agree with this article completely. but since many of our state governments seem to like murdering murderers, maybe the convict should have a choice between death and life in prison. This way innocent people would not be killed because they probably won't choose death. If a person picked death, it would be voluntary, and not murder. The death sentence is never the only solution.

amybug said...
on Aug. 31 2010 at 6:07 pm
amybug, Penrose, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Always remeber there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name." -The Avett Brothers

I think that this is false. I think many people that have received the death penalty were guilty. And you said yourself, who are we to decide who gets to live or die. Exactly, we leave that up to the court system. How do you find someone who murdered a little kid, innocent and a victim?

on Aug. 27 2010 at 11:15 am
StarlightStormcloud, Pasadena, California
0 articles 3 photos 34 comments

This writer is letting his/her emotions and will to be noble take precedence over pragmatism.  

In the cases where the death penalty would be even CONSIDERED, large amounts of incriminating evidence would have to have been produced.  Ambiguity is really less of a problem than this article makes it out to be.  

Rapists and mass murderers are in no way beneficial to society and therefore have no reason to belong in it.  I don't care if the convicted has a family - maybe they should have thought about their family's feelings before committing heinous crimes.  

Kassie#1 said...
on Aug. 18 2010 at 6:27 pm
some people get out of jail( therefore a life sentance for example) for good behavior.

Kassie#1 said...
on Aug. 18 2010 at 6:21 pm
SOOOO Right. Thier are woman. children that have those memories FOREVER.

Kassie#1 said...
on Aug. 18 2010 at 6:18 pm
Then the goverment needs to understand that their are the innocent to protect therfore every means needs to be taken to prove thier innocents and of course thier if they are guilty. if they are guilty then punishment needs to be enforced.

Rimsha said...
on Aug. 18 2010 at 9:46 am
great piece i agree 100% thank u

on Aug. 5 2010 at 10:47 pm
earlybird_8 BRONZE, Roberts Creek, Other
4 articles 0 photos 115 comments

Favorite Quote:
The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

While I do agree that capital punishment is wrong, and that high security prisons with disgusting food and violent inmates are almost as good at keeping criminals away from the general public, one must admit that severe punishments to crimes can be beneficial to society. If someone is completely terrified of the punishment for a crime, they are less likely to commit the offense, thus protecting numerous people who would have otherwise become victims. If Hammurabi's code were put in place of the current code of laws, people would exibit far fewer criminal tendencies (not that I agree with Hammurabi on most things, but the principles behind his laws were pretty sound). Another way to look at it is whether saving one innocent life is worth letting a murderer live, without knowing if he/she will reform or continue killing.

annalena224 said...
on Aug. 2 2010 at 2:10 pm
Death is not, nor should it ever be a punishment. Ever. Not to mention the fact that many crimes are committed due to mental illness and uncontrollable emotions caused by mental illness. If you die and believe in Jesus, I believe you go to Heaven. Is that punishment? No. If you die and don't believe in Jesus, I believe you just die. Is that better than being in jail miserable for years and years? Debatable, but I think so.

on Jul. 24 2010 at 12:40 am
vikesfan28 GOLD, Genoa, Nevada
14 articles 0 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
I'm still a geek on the inside, that's the important thing.

-Wierd Al Yankovic

I don't really care how much the murderer suffers I just want them out of my live knowing that he or she couldn't kill any more people.

on Jul. 23 2010 at 12:34 pm
AgnotTheOdd GOLD, Aptos, California
17 articles 0 photos 315 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The reason for your unreasonable treatment of my reason so enfeebles my reason that I have reason to complain of your reason" ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Excellent comment.  I completely agree

on Jul. 23 2010 at 11:54 am
AgnotTheOdd GOLD, Aptos, California
17 articles 0 photos 315 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The reason for your unreasonable treatment of my reason so enfeebles my reason that I have reason to complain of your reason" ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

continued from previous post:  The appeal system is not wasteful, there just needs to be a cap on appeals in order to cut down on time and costs.  I was suggested that it be revamped, not eliminated.  I know there are some innocent people, and they'll be spared via their one appeal.  It's efficiency.

And they kill in prison.  Guards other inmates.  They could escape.  And its only cheaper (in the United States) because of the appeals which could easily be fixed by a revamped system.

on Jul. 23 2010 at 11:51 am
AgnotTheOdd GOLD, Aptos, California
17 articles 0 photos 315 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The reason for your unreasonable treatment of my reason so enfeebles my reason that I have reason to complain of your reason" ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

It is hard to prove one way or the other that capital punishment is a deterrent.  But here is the evidence for my case.  In the United States, it is not the greatest deterrent because we waste too much time with people on death row and rarely ever end up killing them.  Compare this to Singapore, where the death penalty is a very quick and efficient process, there is far less serious crime.  Deterrents work against premeditated murder, and not crime of passion (in which case I'd opt for manslaughter or something close to it).

Here are some statistics that might tickle you: Texas is the state that carries out the most executions.  Betwixt 1980 and 2000 there were 41718 murders in Texas.  "

“In 1980 alone, 2,392 people died by homicide, giving it a murder rate of 16.88 for every 100,000 of the population. (The U.S. average murder rate in 1980 was 10.22, falling to 5.51 per 100,000 by the year 2000. Over the same period, Texas had a population increase of 32%, up 6,681,991 from 14,169,829 to 20,851,820. There were only 1,238 murders in 2000 giving it a rate of 5.94, just slightly higher than the national rate which had dropped to 5.51/100,000.  In the base year (1980), there was one murder for every 5,924 Texans.  By the year 2000, this had fallen to one murder for every 16,843 people or 35.2% of the 1980 value.  If the 1980 murder rate had been allowed to maintain, there would have been, by interpolation, a total of 61,751 murders. On this basis, 19,968 people are not dead today who would have potentially been homicide victims, representing 78 lives saved for each one of the 256 executions. The overall U.S. murder rate declined by 54% during the period.  Therefore, to achieve a reasonable estimate of actual lives saved, we must multiply 19,968 by 0.54 giving a more realistic figure of 10,783 lives saved or 42 lives per execution. Even if this estimate was off by a factor of 10 (which is highly unlikely), there would still be over 1,000 innocent lives saved or 4 lives per execution. One can see a drop in the number of murders in 1983, the year after Charlie Brooks became the first person to be executed by lethal injection in America.”

pplofdac said...
on Jul. 23 2010 at 6:04 am

You don't get it.

It's been proven not to be a deterant.

And to suggest that the appeal system is wasteful is to suggest that no one on death row is innocent.

Finally, you're overarching theme here is making sure that these killers don't kill again. Well you can ensure that by giving them a life sentence - it's cheaper and they suffer more.