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 Dec. 9 2009 at 2:02 pm
SilverQueen SILVER, Reseda, California
6 articles 0 photos 10 comments
But who decides that murder is wrong? I know it seems self-evident that it is, but in order to understand why, or why one type of killing may be permissible but not another, we must first understand what we are basing our opinions upon.

Olivia said...
on Dec. 9 2009 at 11:54 am
the bible also says "let he who is without sin cast the first stone"

we cannot use the death penalty because it is murder. WE are killing someone too. we cannot continue to use a crime as a punishment. this article is not about the criminals its about us, and the fact that we cannot punish someone for a crime(murder), and then commit the same crime against them

olivia said...
on Dec. 9 2009 at 11:41 am
im saying that capital punishment is simply aonther name for murder, which is morally and ethically wrong. capital punishment is murder by the government and we cannot continue to use a crime as a punishment.

olivia said...
on Dec. 9 2009 at 11:38 am
"Anyone that intentionally takes someone else's life while they are in a sound state of mind should be killed as well."

If what you say Fayrouz is true, then why does this not apply to the execrutioners and the government? you say its wrong to intentionally take someones life away while they are in a sound state of mind, but this is exactly what you propose our government should condone. a little hypacritical dont you think?

on Dec. 6 2009 at 2:57 pm
ThatBlondGuy SILVER, Mableton, Georgia
5 articles 1 photo 69 comments
Thank you for posting this! I agree 100%...well....98%. What I don't agree with is your description of humans and their presence being an error. BUT that is really just pretty picky.

The thought of killing to condemn killing is primitive, and the proverb "an eye for an eye" is strung simply on revenge.

Thanks and good post!

MaddyP BRONZE said...
on Dec. 6 2009 at 8:12 am
MaddyP BRONZE, Beverley, Other
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
I laugh in the face of danger... then hide 'til it goes away

I completely agree, I am from England and we havent had the death penalty in years. If people are still commiting crimes that result in the death penalty it clearly isnt a deterrant, therefore is not working. Also, your point about innocent people is completely true, I think the death penalty is a risk people shoukd not be willing to take

on Nov. 28 2009 at 12:29 pm
boston418 SILVER, Weymouth, Massachusetts
5 articles 0 photos 48 comments

Favorite Quote:
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." -Jim Eliot

"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

on Nov. 19 2009 at 9:34 pm
RichelleP BRONZE, Jefferson City, Missouri
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment
If it is wrong for them to choose when someone dies, then it is wrong for us to choose when they die.

on Nov. 14 2009 at 9:49 pm
xLokiFoxx BRONZE, Bellingham, Washington
2 articles 21 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Memento Mori."

I absolutely agree. After all, to cite a quote that's been tossed around for quite a while now, why do we kill people who kill people to prove that killing is wrong?

While the Bible does say "an eye for an eye," doesn't it also have a message of forgiveness? I'm not an expert on the Bible, but from what I've heard, if you are truly sorry and repent, then God will forgive your sins, please correct me if I'm wrong. I can't imagine someone murdering another being and not feeling even the slightest bit of remorse. I'm sure there are people who don't, but I honestly believe most people who have killed others are honestly sorry. Everyone makes mistakes, and I've also heard that in God's eyes, no one sin is greater than the other. If you can be forgiven for small things, such as theft - maybe you only did something as small as stealing a candy bar from the store - then why not for murder? Both theft and murder go against the Ten Commandments, and you don't rob robbers to serve them justice; you throw them in prison.

Human life is sacred. When you take a life, no matter how justified it is, you are hurting the world. You are throwing something very, very valuable away. And I don't think that's right.

on Nov. 14 2009 at 11:08 am
twilighter_360 GOLD, NYOB, New Jersey
12 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A bird dosen't sing because it has an answer.A bird sings because it has a song." -- Maya Angelou

"Give peace a chance." --John Lennon

u are dead wrong, olivia. dead wrong.

hananabear said...
on Nov. 14 2009 at 7:21 am

i agree with fayrouz. you say who are WE to decide who should die, but who are the MURDERERS to decide who should die? they should be punished for taking the life of an innocent person.

LH2010 said...
on Nov. 6 2009 at 5:02 pm
LH2010, Pleasantville, Iowa
0 articles 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
It takes quite a long time to build your reputation, but just one single moment is able to destroy it all.

Most say that we are not to choose who lives and who dies, which is right. But the Bible does say, "An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth." i told this to a girl at school and she told me that I misinterpreted that verse. How can you misunderstand that? Does the murderer realize that (s)he took someone's life away? Why send them to life in prison where they'll live a life of luxury, considering the way prisoners are treated today. The murderer not only killed a person, but devastated the lives of loved ones. The death penalty is not fair. but it is JUST. If someone on here disagrees, please think about if your loved one was killed. What would you want to do to that person who killed them?

on Oct. 25 2009 at 5:20 pm
SilverQueen SILVER, Reseda, California
6 articles 0 photos 10 comments
I'm not sure if you believe the Bible is true or not, Ckalani, but since it was being assumed so in both my and Shane's comments, let me tell you that the Bible does not merely support the the death penalty. For many crimes, it explicitly demands it (see Leviticus 20:27 and 24:16, Numbers 35:17, and Deuteronomy 22).

KaylaAnne GOLD said...
on Oct. 23 2009 at 7:10 pm
KaylaAnne GOLD, North Platte, Nebraska
16 articles 0 photos 42 comments
I completely agree with you. You did an excelent job in wording and research. Excelent.

KaylaAnne GOLD said...
on Oct. 23 2009 at 7:09 pm
KaylaAnne GOLD, North Platte, Nebraska
16 articles 0 photos 42 comments
Well, SilverQueen, even if the Bible does support killing murderers and rapists and etc. doesn't make it right! Not that I have sympathy for people who have murdered or raped or abused but they are still people. And when we murder them (and yes it is indeed murder) then we just stoop down to their level. The death penalty is wrong. Period.

KaylaAnne GOLD said...
on Oct. 23 2009 at 6:58 pm
KaylaAnne GOLD, North Platte, Nebraska
16 articles 0 photos 42 comments
Yes, life in prison isn't exactly the most pleasant idea of punishment but murdering someone isn't really any better. At least life in prison alows you to live, to smell the air, to speak to other human being (even if they are convict), to walk and breath.

KaylaAnne GOLD said...
on Oct. 23 2009 at 6:49 pm
KaylaAnne GOLD, North Platte, Nebraska
16 articles 0 photos 42 comments
But that's rediculous! Killing someone just so you wont have to spend money on them or because they take up space is murder. Period.

KaylaAnne GOLD said...
on Oct. 23 2009 at 6:47 pm
KaylaAnne GOLD, North Platte, Nebraska
16 articles 0 photos 42 comments
But it isn't humane.

KaylaAnne GOLD said...
on Oct. 23 2009 at 6:45 pm
KaylaAnne GOLD, North Platte, Nebraska
16 articles 0 photos 42 comments
No. It is not that simple. Who are we to chose who lives and dies? Who are we to chose who is innocent or gulity? I am sorry, but I completely disagree with you, Fayrouz. Life in prison without parole is completely fine, but taking someones life away from them is simply wrong. By murdering someone, in this case a convict, is just as bad as murdering your next dorr neighbor.

I respect your opinion but utterly disagree with it.

Emmalee SILVER said...
on Oct. 23 2009 at 10:51 am
Emmalee SILVER, Rayville, Louisiana
9 articles 14 photos 65 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon

Eye for an eye. Murder for murder.