Death Penalty | Teen Ink

Death Penalty MAG

By Anonymous

     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.

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This article has 52 comments.

on Nov. 17 2011 at 11:18 am
Helena_Noel BRONZE, Burnt Hills, New York
1 article 0 photos 629 comments

Favorite Quote:
“I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way: The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear, fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear.” -Edgar Guest

I'm afraid I have to agree with you, John_L., if a little reluctantly. The thing that makes a government a government is the abillity govern and protect the people by awarding the death penalty to individuals who serously endanger the lives and safty of the general public, and by extention, all lesser penalties for lesser crimes.

This bieng the case, Life, Liberty and the Persuit of Happiness are inalienable in the sense that they can never be taken away, NOT that they can't be given up by willingly and seriously voilating the life, liberty and persuit of happiness of another. Criminals gamble with thier rights, they quietly claim the ability to unjustly rob another of their rights and hope no one calls their bluff to take back from them the equivalent of what they stole. It's a dangerous wager and confindment or death are the price for a losing bet.

 But I still don't like it. I believe that all life is sacred, ecpecially human life because unlike animals we have a soul, and unlike angles we are a member of the species that God Himself chose to grace with his presence thought the Incarnation of His Holy Son. There is something sacred about humanity, which is why it is so important that the punishment for desacrating it is severe.

user said...
on Oct. 3 2011 at 11:15 am
because they took someone elses life but if their innocent then its realllly wrong

user said...
on Oct. 3 2011 at 11:13 am
its not fair for them to live they took someones life

Fluffy2772 said...
on Jul. 25 2011 at 2:49 pm
Fluffy2772, McDonough, Georgia
0 articles 0 photos 41 comments
Why should a murderer get to live longer than an innocent they've killed? They'll end up costing us more in jail anyway.

on Jul. 10 2011 at 9:00 am
tikapeek97 BRONZE, Waterboro, Maine
2 articles 1 photo 39 comments

Favorite Quote:
"good things come in small packages" =)

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.

on Jun. 25 2011 at 5:02 pm
freeflow23 GOLD, Durham, North Carolina
15 articles 0 photos 96 comments

Favorite Quote:
Saul saw Goliath as too big to kill. David saw he was too big to miss.

Nice argument and very well written.

on Apr. 10 2011 at 11:30 pm
Jasmine7 BRONZE, Cecil Lake, Other
1 article 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Maya Angelou

I think the blacks/whites thing has to be investigated further to make a claim such as that.....

on Mar. 31 2011 at 9:44 pm
T.R.Trevino BRONZE, San Diego, California
1 article 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
'I cannot, nor will, recant anything, for it is neither safe nor wise to go against conscience.' -Martin Luther

I found your article very interesting.

What was the name of the study, the one that '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', and where can I find where you got this information from? I would like to read some more about this.

Once again, very interesting article.

John_L. BRONZE said...
on Mar. 11 2011 at 4:23 pm
John_L. BRONZE, McMinnville, Tennessee
1 article 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are two things which are infinite: The universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein

I have to respectfully disagree. Although part of me wants to agree with your argument, I think there is a point where actions become unforgiveable.


Do serial killers deserve Life, a luxury they deprived from dozens of people without any remose? I think not. Among our "unalienable" rights are liberty. Does that mean we should let murderers walk the streets free? No. We have a democracy, not an anarchy. We have to have punishments for crimes.


And what then, should the punishment for multiple murders be? If committing one first degree murder (or occasionally two) lands you life in prison, what stops that person from killings dozens more? The death penalty. Without it, there would be more murder, more broken hearts, more tears, more fear, and more silence where children's laughter should be heard.


The death penalty is part of what keeps people in line, since people, according to your argument, "[have a] trait to commit heinous crimes."


True, our judicial system is not infallable. There have been a very small number of cases where innocent people have been executed. Those cases, however, can be counted on a single hand. However, to be put on death row your guilt has to be determined beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is any doubt, any at all, the verdict is not delivered.


The death penalty is only given to those who have committed unforgiveable crimes, have been proven to commit the crimes, and show no remorse for what they've done, the lives they've ruined, or the people they've killed.


The death penalty is not inhumane, given that the execution is carried out in a humane manner. Imagine if your wife, children, parents, and everyone you love was violently murdered. I'm sure you'd want the death penalty to be given to the horrible excuse for a person who did it.

Lilliterra said...
on Feb. 2 2011 at 1:13 am

I think what's wrong is to force the general public to pay millions of dollars for the room and board of people that we already know are never going to be released.And it IS expensive. Prison in the US is like a luxury hotel compared to in other countries.

And by the way European countries are worse off than us in many ways.

on Dec. 1 2010 at 9:27 pm
Kleetus7 BRONZE, Los Alamos, New Mexico
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away."

I wouldn't say that the death penalty is morally wrong. Locking someone up alone for what they have left of their life is, in my opinion, worse. However, I read a study once that said most criminals were much more afraid of spending life in prison than being killed. What that means is if we were to eliminate the death penalty, the amount of crime in this country would probably drop due to the fear factor. If we were to eliminate the death penalty, one might ask about prisoners who escape and commit the same crime again. In my opinion, we should keep the death penalty, but save it for those who escape from prison.

on Aug. 12 2010 at 1:39 am
writer-in-pearls GOLD, San Diego, California
10 articles 0 photos 42 comments
but people who recieve the death penalty are those who commit the most violent and discusting acts, why should we give up basic principles of humanity to make their lives easier. So what if life in prison is more unpleasent, the reasons for not killing people are not because it's cruel, but because its inhumane and its not up to us to go around killing people :)

on Aug. 12 2010 at 12:33 am
StandardToaster PLATINUM, Pasadena, California
20 articles 0 photos 209 comments

Favorite Quote:
I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy ever minute of it."

I agree.  Being killed quickly is much better than decades of ostracism.  Personally, if I were given the choice of being killed, or forever confined in a small cell, i would choose death.

jazzledazzle said...
on Jul. 22 2010 at 12:32 am

MaeFlower, I also don't intend to offend you or any readers, but I don't feel that your statement is really valid.  America was NOT founded on Christian value; the phrase "under God" was added in the 50s; and yes, I damn well am offended by religions in which I don't believe.  If a Satanist decided that my dog would make a nice mantelpiece (forgive me if I'm misinterpreting their doctrines which, as I understand, permit anything that furthers the believer's pleasure), then yes, I would be offended because my dog would be dead.  Christianity condemns homosexuality.  The list could go on forever, but I digress.  

I don't feel your argument makes sense, in short.  

jazzledazzle said...
on Jul. 22 2010 at 12:18 am
Do you really believe that a life in solitary confinement is more humane than the death penalty?

on Jun. 30 2010 at 9:05 am
first of all they wouldnt be let out in a couple of months they would have a life sentence.  secondly  someone guilty who is free is better than someone innocent convicted.  the death penalty is barbaric and should be discontinued!!! it is an embarassment to the united states!

MaeFlower said...
on Jun. 8 2010 at 8:42 am
MaeFlower, Aurora, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 27 comments

Before I say this, I have to say that I apologzize if I offend anyone, but this is what I believe, so I'm going to stand up for it.

 Our nation was founded on Christianity, we are one nation UNDER GOD, and everyone seems to forget that. I  know it seems "offending" to some people, but how is it that everyone is "offended" by me because of my religion, but no one is offended by Islam, Buddhism, Athiesm, or any other religion that you don't believe in?

 I understand what you're saying, but I disagree strongly with it.  I believe I should be allowed to pull my religion into an argument, and explain my beliefs.  And I believe the founding fathers founded this country on the idea that everyone was created equal, and that means us Christians too. 

on Jun. 7 2010 at 4:39 pm
DayofRain50 GOLD, Robbinsville, New Jersey
14 articles 0 photos 48 comments
Personally, not everyone is Christian, so I don't think people should be living under christian based laws because it is offensive. It's okay if you believe in Jesus, just don't use him in this type of argument.

on Apr. 30 2010 at 12:21 am
yes, there are other solutions, but this one is the best. it puts them out of their misery & everyone else's. because, if you let them live & give them 2 or 3 months in jail, when they are released people may want revenge. & we could make it painful & to where they feel the "guilt", just put 'em in the electric chair!

on Apr. 26 2010 at 10:06 pm
writer-in-pearls GOLD, San Diego, California
10 articles 0 photos 42 comments
I agree, I am completely opposed to the death penalty. Those that commit violent acts should be placed in prison to protect the public, but it is not up to us to punish them. Each person will have to face their own conscience, and the judgement of their God.