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The Death Penalty Is Appropriate
Senior Legal Fellow and Deputy Director, Meese Center
The Supreme Court has held the death penalty to be constitutional.
A majority of states (29) have the death penalty on the books.
But for the death penalty to be applied fairly, we must strive to make the criminal justice system work as it was intended.
Genny Rojas was four years old when her aunt and uncle, Veronica and Ivan Gonzales, tortured and murdered her. They suspended her alive by a hook on the closet wall in their apartment. They shook her violently, strangled her, beat her with a hairbrush, and handcuffed her for days. She died after she was forced into a scalding bath tub for three minutes.
A California jury sentenced Veronica and Ivan to death, and the California Supreme Court upheld their convictions. If anyone deserved the ultimate punishment, they did.
There are, to be sure, heartfelt arguments for people to be against the death penalty, not the least of which are religious, moral, or other reasons and beliefs. There are also valid arguments regarding the historical use of the death penalty against minorities, especially in the South.
Yet a majority of Americans, quite reasonably, support the death penalty in appropriate cases, and believe that, despite its imperfections, it is constitutional.
The Supreme Court has held the death penalty to be constitutional. The 5 th and 14 th Amendments carry express approval of the death penalty: a person may not be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”
A majority of states (29) have the death penalty on the books. Similarly, the federal government, and the military have the ultimate punishment for the most heinous crimes.
Since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated the punishment, there have been 1,512 executions, with whites making up the majority of defendants executed (55%), followed by blacks (34%). Whites make up the majority of victims in death penalty cases (76%), followed by blacks (15%). A majority of Americans support the death penalty, and have since polling began in 1938.
But for the death penalty to be applied fairly, we must strive to make the criminal justice system work as it was intended. We should all agree that all defendants in capital cases should have competent and zealous lawyers representing them at all stages in the trial and appeals process.
Any remnant of racism in the criminal justice system is wrong, and we should work to eliminate it. Nobody is in favor of racist prosecutors, bad judges or incompetent defense attorneys. If problems arise in particular cases, they should be corrected—and often are.
That said, the death penalty serves three legitimate penological objectives: general deterrence, specific deterrence, and retribution.
The first, general deterrence, is the message that gets sent to people who are thinking about committing heinous crimes that they shouldn’t do it or else they might end up being sentenced to death.
The second, specific deterrence, is specific to the defendant. It simply means that the person who is subjected to the death penalty won’t be alive to kill other people.
The third penological goal, retribution, is an expression of society’s right to make a moral judgment by imposing a punishment on a wrongdoer befitting the crime he has committed. Twenty-nine states, and the people’s representatives in Congress have spoken loudly; the death penalty should be available for the worst of the worst.
Opponents also argue that since other countries have abolished the death penalty, we should also. But Thailand, India, Japan, Singapore, and many other countries retain the death penalty.
Yes, many European countries have abolished the death penalty. But they are less democratic than we are, and its lawmakers are less accountable to the people in their countries.
Death penalty opponents, quite understandably, note that there have been a number of death row inmates who have been exonerated through groups like the Innocence Project. Sadly, mistakes can happen. Indeed mistakes can happen on both sides when it comes to the death penalty.
However, acknowledging that mistakes can occasionally occur in capital cases does not render the death penalty unjust any more than imposing a sentence of incarceration for a term of years is not rendered unjust simply because mistakes occasionally occur in non-capital cases.
Today, there are built-in checks and balances in the criminal justice system, from jury selection to the penalty phase to the appeals process that are designed to provide fair process for each defendant. The system is not perfect, and we must work to make it better for everyone involved.
But we cannot forget the victims either. Genny Gonzales would be 28 years old this year. She never went to high school, attended college, or fell in love. She is gone. Her murderers richly deserve the death penalty, though justice won’t be complete until their sentence is carried out.
This piece originally appeared in Tribune News Service
Americans are less safe today than they were a decade ago due to failed models of criminal justice reform, rogue prosecutors, and politicized unequal law enforcement.
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Essays About the Death Penalty: Top 5 Examples and Prompts
The death penalty is a major point of contention all around the world. Read our guide so you can write well-informed essays about the death penalty.
Out of all the issues at the forefront of public discourse today, few are as hotly debated as the death penalty. As its name suggests, the death penalty involves the execution of a criminal as punishment for their transgressions. The death penalty has always been, and continues to be, an emotionally and politically charged essay topic.
Arguments about the death penalty are more motivated by feelings and emotions; many proponents are people seeking punishment for the killers of their loved ones, while many opponents are mourning the loss of loved ones executed through the death penalty. There may also be a religious aspect to support and oppose the policy.
1. The Issues of Death Penalties and Social Justice in The United States (Author Unknown)
2. serving justice with death penalty by rogelio elliott, 3. can you be christian and support the death penalty by matthew schmalz, 4. death penalty: persuasive essay by jerome glover, 5. the death penalty by kamala harris, top 5 writing prompts on essays about the death penalty, 1. death penalty: do you support or oppose it, 2. how has the death penalty changed throughout history, 3. the status of capital punishment in your country, 4. death penalty and poverty, 5. does the death penalty serve as a deterrent for serious crimes, 6. what are the pros and cons of the death penalty vs. life imprisonment , 7. how is the death penalty different in japan vs. the usa, 8. why do some states use the death penalty and not others, 9. what are the most common punishments selected by prisoners for execution, 10. should the public be allowed to view an execution, 11. discuss the challenges faced by the judicial system in obtaining lethal injection doses, 12. should the death penalty be used for juveniles, 13. does the death penalty have a racial bias to it.
“Executing another person only creates a cycle of vengeance and death where if all of the rationalities and political structures are dropped, the facts presented at the end of the day is that a man is killed because he killed another man, so when does it end? Human life is to be respected and appreciated, not thrown away as if it holds no meaningful value.”
This essay discusses several reasons to oppose the death penalty in the United States. First, the author cites the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, saying that the death penalty is inhumane and deprives people of life. Human life should be respected, and death should not be responded to with another death. In addition, the author cites evidence showing that the death penalty does not deter crime nor gives closure to victims’ families.
Check out these essays about police brutality .
“Capital punishment follows the constitution and does not break any of the amendments. Specific people deserve to be punished in this way for the crime they commit. It might immoral to people but that is not the point of the death penalty. The death penalty is not “killing for fun”. The death penalty serves justice. When justice is served, it prevents other people from becoming the next serial killer. It’s simple, the death penalty strikes fear.”
Elliott supports the death penalty, writing that it gives criminals what they deserve. After all, those who commit “small” offenses will not be executed anyway. In addition, it reinforces the idea that justice comes to wrongdoers. Finally, he states that the death penalty is constitutional and is supported by many Americans.
“The letter states that this development of Catholic doctrine is consistent with the thought of the two previous popes: St. Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI. St. John Paul II maintained that capital punishment should be reserved only for “absolute necessity.” Benedict XVI also supported efforts to eliminate the death penalty. Most important, however, is that Pope Francis is emphasizing an ethic of forgiveness. The Pope has argued that social justice applies to all citizens. He also believes that those who harm society should make amends through acts that affirm life, not death.”
Schmalz discusses the Catholic position on the death penalty. Many early Catholic leaders believed that the death penalty was justified; however, Pope Francis writes that “modern methods of imprisonment effectively protect society from criminals,” and executions are unnecessary. Therefore, the Catholic Church today opposes the death penalty and strives to protect life.
“There are many methods of execution, like electrocution, gas chamber, hanging, firing squad and lethal injection. For me, I just watched once on TV, but it’s enough to bring me nightmares. We only live once and we will lose anything we once had without life. Life is precious and can’t just be taken away that easily. In my opinion, I think Canada shouldn’t adopt the death penalty as its most severe form of criminal punishment.”
Glover’s essay acknowledges reasons why people might support the death penalty; however, he believes that these are not enough for him to support it. He believes capital punishment is inhumane and should not be implemented in Canada. It deprives people of a second chance and does not teach wrongdoers much of a lesson. In addition, it is inhumane and deprives people of their right to life.
“Let’s be clear: as a former prosecutor, I absolutely and strongly believe there should be serious and swift consequences when one person kills another. I am unequivocal in that belief. We can — and we should — always pursue justice in the name of victims and give dignity to the families that grieve. But in our democracy, a death sentence carried out by the government does not constitute justice for those who have been put to death and proven innocent after the fact.”
This short essay was written by the then-presidential candidate and current U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to explain her campaign’s stance on the death penalty. First, she believes it does not execute justice and is likely to commit injustice by sentencing innocent people to death. In addition, it is said to disproportionally affect nonwhite people. Finally, it is more fiscally responsible for abolishing capital punishment, as it uses funds that could be used for education and healthcare.
This topic always comes first to mind when thinking of what to write. For a strong argumentative essay, consider the death penalty and list its pros and cons. Then, conclude whether or not it would be beneficial to reinstate or keep the policy. There is an abundance of sources you can gather inspiration from, including the essay examples listed above and countless other online sources.
People have been put to death as a punishment since the dawn of recorded history, but as morals and technology have changed, the application of the death penalty has evolved. This essay will explore how the death penalty has been used and carried out throughout history.
This essay will examine both execution methods and when capital punishment is ordered. A few points to explore in this essay include:
- Thousands of years ago, “an eye for an eye” was the standard. How were executions carried out in ancient history?
- The religious context of executions during the middle ages is worth exploring. When was someone burned at the stake?
- The guillotine became a popular method of execution during the renaissance period. How does this method compare to both ancient execution methods and modern methods?
- The most common execution methods in the modern era include the firing squad, hanging, lethal injections, gas chambers, and electrocution. How do these methods compare to older forms of execution?
Choose a country, preferably your home country, and look into the death penalty status: is it being implemented or not? If you wish, you can also give a brief history of the death penalty in your chosen country and your thoughts. You do not necessarily need to write about your own country; however, picking your homeland may provide better insight.
Critics of the death penalty argue that it is anti-poor, as a poor person accused of a crime punishable by death lacks the resources to hire a good lawyer to defend them adequately. For your essay, reflect on this issue and write about your thoughts. Is it inhumane for the poor? After all, poor people will not have sufficient resources to hire good lawyers, regardless of the punishment.
This is one of the biggest debates in the justice system. While the justice system has been set up to punish, it should also deter people from committing crimes. Does the death penalty do an adequate job at deterring crimes?
This essay should lay out the evidence that shows how the death penalty either does or does not deter crime. A few points to explore in this essay include:
- Which crimes have the death penalty as the ultimate punishment?
- How does the murder rate compare to states that do not have the death penalty in states with the death penalty?
- Are there confounding factors that must be taken into consideration with this comparison? How do they play a role?
This is one of the most straightforward ways to explore the death penalty. If the death penalty is to be removed from criminal cases, it must be replaced with something else. The most logical alternative is life imprisonment.
There is no “right” answer to this question, but a strong argumentative essay could take one side over another in this death penalty debate. A few points to explore in this essay include:
- Some people would rather be put to death instead of imprisoned in a cell for life. Should people have the right to decide which punishment they accept?
- What is the cost of the death penalty versus imprisoning someone for life? Even though it can be expensive to imprison someone for life, remember that most death penalty cases are appealed numerous times before execution.
- Would the death penalty be more acceptable if specific execution methods were used instead of others?
Few first-world countries still use the death penalty. However, Japan and the United States are two of the biggest users of the death sentence.
This is an interesting compare and contrast essay worth exploring. In addition, this essay can explore the differences in how executions are carried out. Some of the points to explore include:
- What are the execution methods countries use? The execution method in the United States can vary from state to state, but Japan typically uses hanging. Is this considered a cruel and unusual punishment?
- In the United States, death row inmates know their execution date. In Japan, they do not. So which is better for the prisoner?
- How does the public in the United States feel about the death penalty versus public opinion in Japan? Should this influence when, how, and if executions are carried out in the respective countries?
In the United States, justice is typically administered at the state level unless a federal crime has been committed. So why do some states have the death penalty and not others?
This essay will examine which states have the death penalty and make the most use of this form of punishment as part of the legal system. A few points worth exploring in this essay include:
- When did various states outlaw the death penalty (if they do not use it today)?
- Which states execute the most prisoners? Some states to mention are Texas and Oklahoma.
- Do the states that have the death penalty differ in when the death penalty is administered?
- Is this sentence handed down by the court system or by the juries trying the individual cases in states with the death penalty?
It might be interesting to see if certain prisoners have selected a specific execution method to make a political statement. Numerous states allow prisoners to select how they will be executed. The most common methods include lethal injections, firing squads, electric chairs, gas chambers, and hanging.
It might be interesting to see if certain prisoners have selected a specific execution method to make a political statement. Some of the points this essay might explore include:
- When did these different execution methods become options for execution?
- Which execution methods are the most common in the various states that offer them?
- Is one method considered more “humane” than others? If so, why?
One of the topics recently discussed is whether the public should be allowed to view an execution.
There are many potential directions to go with this essay, and all of these points are worth exploring. A few topics to explore in this essay include:
- In the past, executions were carried out in public places. There are a few countries, particularly in the Middle East, where this is still the case. So why were executions carried out in public?
- In some situations, individuals directly involved in the case, such as the victim’s loved ones, are permitted to view the execution. Does this bring a sense of closure?
- Should executions be carried out in private? Does this reduce transparency in the justice system?
Lethal injection is one of the most common modes of execution. The goal is to put the person to sleep and remove their pain. Then, a cocktail is used to stop their heart. Unfortunately, many companies have refused to provide states with the drugs needed for a lethal injection. A few points to explore include:
- Doctors and pharmacists have said it is against the oath they took to “not harm.” Is this true? What impact does this have?
- If someone is giving the injection without medical training, how does this impact the prisoner?
- Have states decided to use other more “harmful” modes of execution because they can’t get what they need for the lethal injection?
There are certain crimes, such as murder, where the death penalty is a possible punishment across the country. Even though minors can be tried as adults in some situations, they typically cannot be given the death penalty.
It might be interesting to see what legal experts and victims of juvenile capital crimes say about this important topic. A few points to explore include:
- How does the brain change and evolve as someone grows?
- Do juveniles have a higher rate of rehabilitation than adults?
- Should the wishes of the victim’s family play a role in the final decision?
The justice system, and its unjust impact on minorities , have been a major area of research during the past few decades. It might be worth exploring if the death penalty is disproportionately used in cases involving minorities.
It might be worth looking at numbers from Amnesty International or the Innocence Project to see what the numbers show. A strong essay might also propose ways to make justice system cases more equitable and fair. A few points worth exploring include:
- Of the cases where the death penalty has been levied, what percentage of the cases involve a minority perpetrator?
- Do stays of execution get granted more often in cases involving white people versus minorities?
- Do white people get handed a sentence of life in prison without parole more often than people of minority descent?
If you’d like to learn more, our writer explains how to write an argumentative essay in this guide.
For help with your essay, check our round-up of best essay writing apps .
Martin is an avid writer specializing in editing and proofreading. He also enjoys literary analysis and writing about food and travel.
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- Death Penalty Persuasive Essay
This assignment instructed students to write a persuasive essay which argues for a specific viewpoint or a specific action to be taken on a societal issue. I argued for a specific stance to be taken on the issue of the death penalty.
The audience for this essay is the opinion section of the Sunday New York Times. This publication has a wide readership. The largest percentage of readers are between the ages of 35 and 44, and the majority of readers have either a college degree or a graduate degree. This essay argues for a question of value.
The death penalty is an issue that has the United States quite divided. While there are many supporters of it, there is also a large amount of opposition. Currently, there are thirty-three states in which the death penalty is legal and seventeen states that have abolished it (Death Penalty Information Center). I believe the death penalty should be legal throughout the nation . There are many reasons as to why I believe the death penalty should be legalized in all states, including deterrence, retribution, and morality; and because opposing arguments do not hold up, I will refute the ideas that the death penalty is unconstitutional, irrevocable mistakes are made, and that there is a disproportionality of race and income level.
The use of capital punishment greatly deters citizens from committing crimes such as murder. Many people’s greatest fear is death; therefore if they know that death is a possible consequence for their actions, they are less likely to perform such actions. Ernest van den Haag, a professor at Fordham University, wrote about the issue of deterrence:
“…capital punishment is likely to deter more than other punishments because people fear death more than anything else. They fear most death deliberately inflicted by law and scheduled by the courts….Hence, the threat of the death penalty may deter some murderers who otherwise might not have been deterred. And surely the death penalty is the only penalty that could deter prisoners already serving a life sentence and tempted to kill a guard, or offenders about to be arrested and facing a life sentence.” (Death Penalty Curricula for High School)
van den Haag brings forth the argument that capital punishment is the strongest deterrent society has against murder, which has been proven in many studies. “Since society has the highest interest in preventing murder, it should use the strongest punishment available to deter murder…” (Death Penalty Curricula for High School). In a study conducted by Isaac Ehrlich in 1973, it was found that for each execution of a criminal seven potential victim’s lives were saved (Death Penalty Curricula for High School). This was due to other possible murderers being deterred from committing murder after realizing thatother criminals are executed for their crimes. Ehrlich’s argument was also backed up by studies following his that had similar results. Capital punishment also acts as a deterrent for recidivism (the rate at which previously convicted criminals return to committing crimes after being released); if the criminal is executed he has no opportunity to commit crimes again. Some may argue that there is not enough concrete evidence to use deterrence as an argument for the death penalty. The reason some evidence may be inconclusive is that the death penalty often takes a while to be carried out; some prisoners sit on death row for years before being executed. This can influence the effectiveness of deterrence because punishments that are carried out swiftly are better examples to others. Although the death penalty is already effective at deterring possible criminals, it would be even more effective if the legal process were carried out more quickly instead of having inmates on death row for years.
The death penalty also carries out retribution justly. “Deserved punishment protects society morally by restoring this just order, making the wrongdoer pay a price equivalent to the harm he has done.” (Budziszewski). When someone commits a crime it disturbs the order of society; these crimes take away lives, peace, and liberties from society. Giving the death penalty as a punishment simply restores order to society and adequately punishes the criminal for his wrongdoing. Retribution also serves justice for murder victims and their families. Some may see this as revenge, but this retribution is not motivated by malice, rather it is motivated by the need for justice and the principle of lex talionis (“an eye for an eye”) (Green). This lack of malice is proven in the simple definition of retribution: “retribution is a state sponsored, rational response to criminality that is justified given that the state is the victim when a crime occurs” (“Justifications for Capital Punishment). The death penalty puts the scales of justice back in balance after they were unfairly tipped towards the criminal.
The morality of the death penalty has been hotly debated for many years. Those opposed to the death penalty say that it is immoral for the government to take the life of a citizen under any circumstance. This argument is refuted by Immanuel Kant who put forth the idea that, “a society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else’s life is simply immoral” (ProCon.org). It is immoral to not properly punish a person who has committed such a horrendous crime. The criminal is also executed humanely; in no way is he subjected to torture or any form of cruelty. All states that use the death penalty use lethal injection; the days of subjecting a prisoner to hanging or the electric chair are long gone in the US. Inmates are first given a large dose of an anesthetic so they do not feel any pain (Bosner); this proves that the process is made as humane as possible so the inmates do not physically suffer. Although the issue of morality is very personal for many people, it is important to see the facts and realize that capital punishment does take morality into account and therefore is carried out in the best way possible.
The eighth amendment to the United States Constitution prevents cruel and unusual punishment. Many opponents of capital punishment say that execution is cruel and unusual punishment and therefore violates the Constitution. As was stated earlier, the recipient of the death penalty is treated humanely and is not tortured in any way, shape, or form. After the anesthetic is administered the person feels no pain; the only part of the process that could be considered painful is when the IV is inserted, but that is done in hospitals on a daily basis and no one is calling it unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the death penalty as constitutional in cases they have presided over. In the case of Furman v. Georgia the court stated, “The punishment of death is not cruel, within the meaning of that word as used in the Constitution. It implies there is something more inhuman and barbarous, than the mere extinguishment of life” (Lowe). The Supreme Court has not found capital punishment to be unconstitutional, and therefore this argument for abolition is invalid.
Another argument put forth by death penalty abolitionists is the possibility of executing an innocent person. Many people that argue this overestimate how often this happens, it is an extremely rare occurrence and has not happened since the death penalty was reintroduced in 1976. Steven D. Stewart, the Prosecuting Attorney for Clark County Indiana, very effectively refutes this argument:
“…No system of justice can produce results which are 100% certain all the time. Mistakes will be made in any system which relies upon human testimony for proof. We should be vigilant to uncover and avoid such mistakes. Our system of justice rightfully demands a higher standard for death penalty cases. However, the risk of making a mistake with the extraordinary due process applied in death penalty cases is very small, and there is no credible evidence to show that any innocent persons have been executed at least since the death penalty was reactivated in 1976…The inevitability of a mistake should not serve as grounds to eliminate the death penalty any more than the risk of having a fatal wreck should make automobiles illegal…” (ProCon.org)
Stewart points out that death penalty cases are held to a much higher standard. Due process in these cases takes much longer so that the court can be absolutely sure that the person is guilty before sentencing him to execution. This helps to eliminate any errors that could lead to executing the wrong person. He also points out that although there is a small possibility for mistakes to be made, this does not mean capital punishment should be abolished. If everything that had the potential for harmful mistakes were outlawed, society would be extremely crippled.
It is true that there is disproportionality when it comes to the races and classes that most frequently receive the death penalty. It has been proven that minorities and those with lower income levels are overrepresented on death row. This is not due to discrimination; this is due to the higher rate at which these groups commit crime (ProCon.org). It has been argued that poverty breeds criminality; if this is true then it makes sense that those at a lower income level would more frequently be sentenced to execution than those at higher income levels (ProCon.org). It has also been proven that minorities are disproportionately poor, and therefore they would also be more likely to receive the death penalty. Ernest van den Haag said it best:
“Punishments are imposed on persons, not on…economic groups. Guilt is personal. The only relevant question is: does the person to be executed deserve the punishment? Whether or not others deserved the same punishment, whatever the economic or racial group, have avoided execution is irrelevant.” (ProCon.org)
It does not matter what race or economic status a person is, if he is guilty he must receive the appropriate punishment, which in some cases may be the death penalty.
Capital punishment can be a difficult topic to approach because people tend to have extreme views on it. The death penalty is an asset to society; it deters potential criminals as well as serves retribution to criminals, and is in no way immoral. The arguments against the death penalty often do not hold up when examined more closely. It is important that the nation is united on this issue, rather than having some states use capital punishment while others do not. The death penalty can be an extremely useful tool in sentencing criminals that have committed some of the worst crimes known to society. It is imperative that we begin to pass legislation making capital punishment legal throughout the United States so that justice can be served properly.
Bosner, Kevin. “How Lethal Injection Works.” How Stuff Works . Web. 29 March 2013. <http://people.howstuffworks.com/lethal-injection5.htm>
Budziszewski, J. “Capital Punishment: The Case for Justice.” OrthodoxyToday.org . August 2004. Web. 29 March 2013. <http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles4/BudziszewskiPunishment.php>
Death Penalty Curricula for High School. “The Death Penalty Prevents Future Murders: Agree.” Michigan State University Comm Tech Lab & Death Penalty Information Center . Web. 30 March 2013. <http://deathpenaltycurriculum.org/node/6?>
Death Penalty Information Center. “States With and Without the Death Penalty”. Death Penalty Information Center . 2013. Web. 28 March 2013. <http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/states-and-without-death-penalty>
Green, Melissa S. “The Death Penalty: Specific Issues.” Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage . 24 March 2005. Web. 28 March 2013. <http://justice.uaa.alaska.edu/death/issues.html>
“Justifications for Capital Punishment.” Justiceblind.com. Web. 30 March 2013. <http://www.justiceblind.com/death/dpsupport.html>
Lowe, Wesley. “Pro Death Penalty Webpage.” Wesleylowe.com . Web. 30 March 2013. <http://www.wesleylowe.com/cp.html>
ProCon.org . ProCon.org. Web. 28 March 2013. <procon.org>
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The death penalty should remain legal
Zachary Nichol , Contributing Writer February 16, 2022
In the last Merciad my colleague Zach Dumais wrote an intriguing article regarding the issue of capital punishment and why it should be abolished. I decided to respond with the opposite perspective. I shall discuss two crucial areas: the legality and the morality.
Legality: opponents of capital punishment tend to point to the 8th amendment and its banning of punishment that is cruel and unusual. The question is, therefore, whether capital punishment constitutes those criteria. Under American jurisprudence there is a simple answer: no, it is not cruel and unusual. But do not take my word for it, let us look to higher authority. The authors of the Constitution clearly believed that capital punishment did not violate the 8th amendment. The proof? One merely needs to look to the 5th amendment to see what they thought of execution. Our Constitution states there that no person, “shall be deprived of life liberty or property, without due process of law.” This means that those who wrote about banning cruel and unusual punishment also thought, through due process of law, there were situations in which a person could be deprived of life. That means execution.
The Supreme Court has ruled in numerous cases that the death penalty is constitutional. There have been cases in which restrictions on the death penalty have been placed, but those usually involve procedural issues, the manner of execution, or a person’s mental state. Never has the Supreme Court ruled that execution itself is unconstitutional. For example, public hangings were found to be cruel and unusual while hangings themselves were not. If execution was unconstitutional then our Court would have ruled so long ago. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, signed into law by President Clinton, established more than 50 federal crimes for which a guilty person could be executed. Regardless of policy preference, the death penalty is undoubtedly legal. The great scholastic theologian Thomas Aquinas explicitly stated that capital punishment is a form of “lawful slaying.”
Morality: so, is the death penalty right or wrong? To answer this, I am going to ask some uncomfortable questions that might be harsh, but this is a harsh subject. Is all human life valuable? Is all human life equally intrinsically valuable? Is it always wrong to kill? Some may say yes to all of these but is that really the case? Some say that killing a killer makes us killers, but does it really? Hypothetically if someone breaks into your home with malicious intent, you have not only an absolute right but a moral imperative to defend your home, your domain. You must either use force or suffer the consequences. Most will defend themselves and their family. Thus, in this scenario we have developed the idea that one human life, the home intruder attempting to murder you or your family, is without or of lesser value. Other examples could include a mass shooting and how to immediately stop the shooter. What should be done? Granted, immediate action to stop further harm is one thing, but what of a prisoner who is already in the custody of the state? I just listed the above examples to show that clearly not all human life is always equally valuable.
There are situations in which we as a society, in which we as individuals and in which natural law itself deem someone to have forfeited their right to life. As for the death penalty, let us take another hypothetical. We have 100% unadulterated proof that a man committed a horrific act of violence, perhaps towards children. There is no debating it. He did it. DNA evidence, video recordings, murder weapon, witnesses, etc. all prove it. He has his fair trial, is found guilty of multiple counts of murder, and is sentenced to be executed. If a police officer had been at the scene of the crime and been able to stop it, they would have. Even if it meant taking his life. Most virtuous people would try to stop him by any means as well. The ramification of his barbarism is that he has forfeited his right to life. Therefore, the state follows through on this logic and provides retribution for the victims. This is justice.
The death penalty today is not used for traffic violations, low level drug crimes, or even physical assault. The death penalty is now almost exclusively used to punish murderers, and usually rather heinous ones at that. Serial killers, child murderers, mass shooters. These are the types that get the death penalty today. The death penalty is THE ultimate justice done towards those that commit the ultimate crime.
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Should We Abolish the Death Penalty?
‘do we have the right to kill’: california suspends death penalty, gov. gavin newsom of california announced a moratorium on capital punishment on wednesday, providing a temporary reprieve for 737 inmates on death row..
Do we have the right to kill? That’s a deep — an existential question. I don’t believe we do. You know, I know those things people think eye for eye, but if you rape, we don’t rape. And I think if someone kills, we don’t kill. We’re better than that. So this moratorium advances that principle. And we are as I speak, as I speak, shutting down, removing the equipment in the death chamber at San Quentin, symbolically and substantively, to send a message that we’re better than this.
By Jeremy Engle
- March 20, 2019
In 2018, the United States executed 25 people and over 2,700 prisoners remain on “death row.” It is one of only 56 nations in the world that still practice capital punishment.
Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a moratorium on capital punishment in his state. Watch the one-minute video above announcing his decision.
Should the United States as a country stop using the death penalty? Is it ever justified, such as for the most heinous crimes? Or do you think it is always cruel and unusual punishment ? Alternatively, do you think it should be suspended for practical reasons, such as because it is costly or sometimes unfairly administered?
In “ California Death Penalty Suspended; 737 Inmates Get Stay of Execution ,” Tim Arango writes:
LOS ANGELES — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a moratorium on capital punishment on Wednesday, granting a temporary reprieve for the 737 inmates on the state’s death row, the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The move is highly symbolic because legal challenges have already stalled executions in California; the last one was in 2006. But death penalty opponents hope that because of California’s size and political importance, the governor’s action will give new urgency to efforts to end executions in other states as popular support for the death penalty wanes. Mr. Newsom, a longtime opponent of capital punishment, cited its high cost, racial disparities in its application and wrongful convictions, and questioned whether society has the right to take a life. “I know people think eye for eye, but if you rape, we don’t rape,” he said. “And I think if someone kills, we don’t kill. We’re better than that.” He continued, “I cannot sign off on executing hundreds and hundreds of human beings, knowing — knowing — that among them will be innocent human beings.”
Supporters of capital punishment said the move went against the will of the state’s residents. California voters have rejected an initiative to abolish the death penalty and in 2016, they narrowly approved Proposition 66 to help speed it up. “I think this would be a bold step and I think he’s got to be aware of the political downside,” said Michael D. Rushford, president of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, an organization in Sacramento that favors the death penalty and helped draft the ballot proposition, speaking before the governor’s announcement. “Voters have had multiple opportunities in California over three decades to abandon the death penalty and they’ve shut them down at every chance.”
The article continues:
After the news of Mr. Newsom’s decision broke, Mr. Trump said on Twitter: “Defying voters, the Governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone cold killers. Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!” Speaking several hours later, Mr. Newsom said he had met with families of victims and they had expressed passionate but conflicting views on capital punishment. But the governor made it clear that his decision came down to his own conscience, prodded by impending decisions such as whether to support the state’s lethal injection protocol. An executive order Mr. Newsom signed on Wednesday does three things: grants reprieves to the inmates currently on death row — they will still be under a death sentence, but not at risk of execution; closes the execution chamber at San Quentin prison; and withdraws the state’s lethal injection protocol, the formally approved procedure for carrying out executions. “Three out of four nations in the world know better and are doing better,” Mr. Newsom said. “They’ve abolished the death penalty. It’s time California join those ranks.”
The article concludes:
Opponents of the death penalty, including Mr. Newsom, have long argued that the practice is rife with racial disparities and is not justified by the high cost to state taxpayers. One study , in 2011, found that California pays $184 million a year to sustain capital punishment — or close to an accumulated $5 billion since the practice was reinstituted in 1978. In February, Mr. Newsom intervened in a high-profile death row case that for years activists have claimed was a prime example of racial injustice. Kevin Cooper , a black man who was convicted of four brutal murders by stabbing in 1983, has long maintained his innocence. His supporters have put forward evidence that he was framed by San Bernardino officers. Mr. Newsom ordered DNA testing in the case, something that state officials had refused to do in the past. The possibility of wrongful convictions — nationally, more than 150 people on death row have been exonerated since the mid-1970s, according to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty — has also energized the opposition movement, around the country and in California. Last April in California, a man who had been on death row for 25 years for murdering a young girl, a former farmworker named Vicente Figueroa Benavides, was freed after a court determined that testimony given at his trial was false.
Students, read the entire article, then tell us:
— Do you support or oppose the use of the capital punishment? Should it be abolished in the United States?
— Do you think the death penalty serves a necessary purpose, like deterring crime, providing relief for victims’ families or imparting justice? Or is capital punishment “cruel and unusual punishment” and therefore prohibited by the Constitution?
— What is your reaction to Gov. Newsom’s moratorium announcement? Which of his arguments for a moratorium do you find most persuasive? Which are the least?
— The article states:
But in 2016, Californians doubled down on the death penalty, approving a measure that streamlined the appeals process, which has typically taken about 25 years in California for condemned prisoners. The initiative, which was backed by many law enforcement officials and prosecutors, passed with 51 percent of the vote, belying California’s national image as place where politics was steadily moving to the left. It was approved at the same time that voters legalized marijuana.
Do you think Mr. Newsom was right to issue a moratorium despite recent votes in support of the death penalty by California’s residents? Do you think it violates the will of the state’s residents, or should he follow his own conscience? Should public opinion matter in cases like capital punishment?
— How concerned should we be about wrongful convictions? Do you have concerns about the fair application of the death penalty, or about the possibility of the criminal justice system executing an innocent person? Do the recent cases of Kevin Cooper and Vicente Figueroa Benavides, cited in the article, affect your views?
After Decades, a Death Sentence Depends (a Little) Less on Where You Live
Death Penalty Loses Majority Support for First Time in 45 Years
A Pause on the Nation’s Biggest Death Row
Pope Francis Declares Death Penalty Unacceptable in All Cases
Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.
Home / Essay Samples / Social Issues / Human Rights / Death Penalty
Argumentative Essay on Death Penalty
Social Issues , Law, Crime & Punishment
Human Rights , Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice , Judiciary
Death Penalty , Punishment , Types of Human Rights
- Words: 1992 (4 pages)
Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Table of Contents
Introduction, historical background of death penalty, the death penalty today, arguments for the death penalty, death penalty as a deterrence, arguments against the death penalty, the need to abolish the capital penalty.
- Death Penalty Curriculum “A just society requires the death penalty for the taking of a life: Agree”, Michigan State University http://deathpenaltycurriculum.org/node/10
- Death Penalty Information Center, “Discussion of Recent Deterrence Studies”, Berkeley Electronic Press http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/discussion-recent-deterrence-studies
- Death Penalty Information Center, “Discussion of Recent Deterrence Studies”, Ohio State Journal http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/discussion-recent-deterrence-studies
- George E. Pataki, “Death penalty is a deterrent”, USA Today http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Articles/Pataki.htm
- Unknown Author, “RALPH BAZE AND THOMAS C. BOWLING, Petitionersv. JOHN D. REES, COMMISSIONER, KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL”. United States Supreme Court. 2008, 1
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10 Reasons Why The Death Penalty is Wrong
The death penalty is wrong because it disproportionately affects certain groups, inflicts physical and psychological torment, burdens taxpayers, and doesn’t deter or resolve the root causes of crime.
Over 70% of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty , but it’s still used in places like China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Public opinion is divided, but over the years, support for the death penalty has waned. Supporters say it’s a valuable crime deterrent while opponents argue it fails in this purpose. In this article, we’ll explore these claims, as well as other reasons why the death penalty is wrong.
#1. It’s inhumane #2. It inflicts psychological torment #3. It burdens taxpayers #4. It doesn’t deter crime #5. It doesn’t address the root causes of crime #6. It’s biased against people experiencing poverty #7. It’s disproportionately hurts people with disabilities #8. It has a racial bias #9. It’s used as a tool of authoritarianism #10. It’s irreversible
#1. It’s inhumane
Content warning: This paragraph includes descriptions of a botched execution
Methods of execution have included firing squads, hanging, the electric chair, and lethal injections. Are these punishments inhumane? Death penalty critics look to The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment , which is an international treaty intended to prevent actions considered inhumane. While the Convention doesn’t take a clear stance on the death penalty, many believe executions should be classified as cruel and inhumane. For those who believe executions can be performed “humanely,” there’s still the problem of botched executions. Research shows that 3% of executions between 1890-2010 in the US were botched. Lethal injection has the highest rate of error despite being the most common execution option. When injections go wrong, it can take a long time for a prisoner to die.
In 2014 in Oklahoma, Clayton Lockett was subjected to a botched execution. Things started poorly while the execution team hunted for a viable vein and realized they didn’t have the right needles . Then, it took at least 16 pokes to get an IV inserted. Lockett was in clear distress as the drugs began to enter his body, and the execution was halted. Lockett died of a heart attack 43 minutes after the first drug – midazolam – was administered. While it’s not clear if the drug can be blamed in Lockett’s case, sedatives like midazolam have played a role in several botched executions. Given these facts, the death penalty can easily be considered inhumane.
#2. It inflicts psychological torment
While the death penalty can cause severe physical pain, the time spent on death row can inflict psychological torment, as well. According to The Death Penalty Information Center, death-row prisoners in the United States typically spend over a decade waiting for their execution dates or for their death sentences to be overturned. During those agonizing years, prisoners are isolated, excluded from any employment or educational programs, and restricted from exercise or visitation. This can cause what some experts call “death row syndrome,” which makes prisoners suicidal and delusional. The prisoner is essentially tortured while on death row.
The death penalty doesn’t only affect death-row prisoners. Those working on death row suffer, too. In 2022, NPR released an investigation where they spoke with current and former executioners, lawyers, wardens, and other workers who had been involved with more than 200 executions. They reported “serious mental and physical repercussions.” Nearly everyone NPR spoke with no longer supported the death penalty. While some may still believe death is an appropriate punishment for certain crimes, society needs to consider the health of those tasked with carrying out that punishment.
#3. It burdens taxpayers with high costs
States use taxpayer money to fund executions. You may think death penalty sentences cost less than life imprisonment, but research shows that’s not true. According to data collected by Amnesty International, Kansas paid 70% more for a death penalty case than a comparable non-death penalty case. The median cost of a non-death penalty case (through the end of incarceration) is $740,000 while the median cost of a death penalty case through execution is a striking $1.26 billion. Why is the death penalty so expensive? Legal and pre-trial fees, as well as the length of death penalty trials, the cost of appeals, and heightened security on death row all cost more than non-death penalty cases.
Many taxpayers have moral qualms about their taxes going to the death penalty, but there are tangible consequences, too. The money used for death penalty cases is being diverted from other measures such as mental health treatment, victim services, drug treatment programs, and more. Most people would prefer their taxes to pay for these types of services rather than long trials, appeals, and other death-penalty case activities.
#3. It doesn’t deter crime
Many people can admit the death penalty is not a perfect system, but if it deters crime, isn’t it worth keeping? That statement contains a big “if.” The Death Penalty Information Center has information showing that states without the death penalty have a consistently lower murder rate than states with the death penalty. Since 1990, the gap has increased. A 2020 analysis found that 9 out of 10 states with the highest pandemic murder rates were states with the death penalty. 8 out of the 11 states with the lowest pandemic murder rates had abolished the death penalty. Data like this suggests that the death penalty does not deter murder.
Why isn’t the threat of death enough to dissuade people from committing murder? The answer may lie in human psychology and the minds of those committing crimes. According to an article in Psychology Today, most offenders don’t behave rationally during a crime. Poor mental health is a common trigger. According to research, 43% of those in state prisons have a diagnosed mental disorder. When it comes to what’s known as “expressive crimes,” which are crimes driven by rage, depression, and drug or alcohol use, people are not thinking about the consequences they might face. The death penalty doesn’t factor into their decision-making.
#4. It doesn’t address the root causes of crime
The causes of crime are complex, but there’s little doubt that the death penalty fails to address them. Consider the United States, which experienced a post-2020 increase in violence. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, gun violence was a major contributor. The FBI found that guns were responsible for 77% of murders nationwide in 2020. In the same report, COVID-19 was frequently referenced as a factor as more people experienced disruptions to their jobs and social lives. Americans’ mental health suffered, as well, and while people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of crime rather than perpetrators, certain illnesses (and a lack of treatment) are linked to criminal behavior.
The death penalty doesn’t address any of the possible roots of violent crime, including socioeconomic disruptions and mental health. Considering the cost of death penalty cases and their effect on the mental health of all those involved, one could argue that the death penalty contributes to conditions that lead to crime.
Want to learn more about the death penalty? Check out these articles .
#6. It’s biased against people experiencing poverty
The death penalty is not applied equally based on the crimes people commit. Certain groups are much more likely than others to receive a sentence. According to The International Federation of Human Rights, 95% of prisoners on death row in the United States come from “underprivileged backgrounds. ” This doesn’t mean people experiencing poverty have an inherent urge to commit crimes. The criminalization of poverty increases a person’s risk for arrest, while the high cost of education, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and other assistance can push people into crime.
Once in the criminal justice system, those with money can pay for private lawyers, investigations, appeals, and other actions that help them avoid the death penalty. Those experiencing poverty have to rely on underfunded public defenders. Rather than punishing those who’ve committed the most severe crimes, the system punishes those with the fewest resources. If the death penalty disproportionately affects people experiencing poverty, it’s a deeply unfair and unjust system.
#7. It’s disproportionately hurting people with intellectual disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities face increased discrimination in the criminal justice system. They’re more likely to falsely confess to a crime , less equipped to work with lawyers, and more likely to experience harsh and violent treatment in prison. In the United States, jurisdictions using capital punishment are required to make sure that people with intellectual disabilities are not sentenced to death or executed. However, the standards for this determination are not consistent. According to The Innocence Project, at least 12 states use IQ scores to determine intellectual disability , a method many experts find problematic. Certain states also require clear evidence, while others only ask for a “preponderance of evidence.” This means a person could be considered intellectually disabled in one state and not in another.
Even if a person with intellectual disabilities is not ultimately killed by the state, the road to a new sentence is brutal. Raymond Riles, who was sent to death row in 1976, remained there for more than 45 years despite being repeatedly deemed mentally incompetent. In 2021, his death sentence was finally tossed and he was sentenced to life in prison. Riles’ story is just one of many where a person with intellectual disabilities is mistreated or executed.
What factor influences your opinion on the death penalty the most?
- Whether or not it deters crime
- Whether or not it causes physical or emotional pain
- Whether or not it’s a waste of money
- Whether or not it discriminates against certain groups
- Whether or not it’s exploited by the state
#8. It has a racial bias
In the United States, racial discrepancies are the biggest concern for many death penalty critics. According to research, 35% of people executed in the last 40 years have been Black, despite the fact Black Americans only make up 13% of the general population. When researchers take a closer look, they discover patterns of discrimination based on race. Virginia in particular has been scrutinized for its history, which has roots in early capital punishment laws. White defendants could only be executed for first-degree murder, while a variety of non-homicide crimes could get enslaved Black defendants executed. Between 1900-1969, Virginia executed 73 Black men for non-homicide crimes , while 185 were executed for murder. In that same time frame, no white person was executed for a non-homicide crime while 46 were executed for murder. In 2021, Virginia abolished the death penalty, citing the state’s history of racial disparities.
There’s also racial bias regarding what crimes receive death penalty sentences. According to a 2003 study, prosecutors were more likely to seek the death penalty when the victim was white , while they were less likely to pursue that verdict if the victim was Black. Another study, this one from 2007, reflected similar findings. Nationally, mountains of research show racial bias in how the death penalty is applied.
#9. It’s used as a tool of authoritarianism
In theory, the death penalty is only meant to punish the most serious crimes, like murder. However, in places around the world, governments use executions freely and for non-lethal crimes. According to Amnesty International, recorded executions in 2022 hit their highest figure in five years . 883 people (which does not count the thousands possibly executed in China) were killed across 20 countries, which represents a 53% rise since 2021. Amnesty’s Secretary General says almost 40% of all known executions are for drug-related offenses, while in Iran, people were executed for protesting the regime. Because the governments still using the death penalty often hide their numbers, there are likely more executions not on the record.
It’s clear many governments inflicting the death penalty are not interested in justice, but rather in suppression and control. By using the death penalty arbitrarily, authorities set shifting definitions for what’s “unacceptable” in society and what’s an appropriate punishment. It makes citizens fearful and violates their human rights. As long the death penalty is legal, it has the potential to be abused for a government’s own purposes.
#10. It can’t be reversed in light of new evidence or errors
What makes the death penalty distinct from life in prison is that the judgment can’t be reversed if new evidence is discovered. It’s a disturbingly frequent occurrence. In 2000, Professor James Liebman from Columbia Law School released a study examining every capital conviction and appeal between 1973-1995. More than 90% of the states that gave death sentences had overall error rates of 52% or higher. 85% of states had error rates of 60% or higher. A more recent analysis from 2014 collected data from all death sentences between 1973-2004. They estimated that around 1 in 25 of those given a death sentence had likely been incorrectly convicted. While most of those who receive a death penalty sentence are eventually removed from death row to serve life imprisonment, innocent prisoners are never freed.
The Death Penalty Information Center maintains a database of exonerations , which means the person was acquitted or the charges were dismissed completely. Reasons include false confessions, insufficient evidence, perjury, official misconduct, and inadequate legal defense. Data like this exposes how flawed the criminal justice system is and how frequent errors are. It’s not a system we should trust with people’s lives.
The death penalty: a reading list
Interested in learning more about the death penalty? Here’s where to start:
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption | Bryan Stevenson
This 2015 book (also made into a film) follows Bryan Stevenson as he establishes the Equal Justice Initiative. The book mostly focuses on Stevenson’s work for Water McMillian, a Black man sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit.
Dead Man Walking: The Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty That Sparked a National Debate | Helen Prejean
Written in 1994, this book follows a Roman Catholic nun as she learns about the death penalty in America, gets to know everyone touched by the system, and works through her beliefs.
Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty | Maurice Chammah
In this award-winning 2022 book, Maurice Chammah tracks the story of capital punishment through stories of those with personal experience, like a prosecutor turned judge, a lawyer, executioners, and the prisoners living on death row. Chammah is a journalist and staff writer for The Marshall Project.
Right Here, Right Now: Life Stories from America’s Death Row | Ed. Lynden Harris
A collection of 99 first-person, anonymous accounts of men on death row in the United States, this 2021 book shines a light on the humanity of the people who’ve been sentenced to death. The book is organized into eight life stages from early childhood right to the moment a man faces his execution.
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About the author, emmaline soken-huberty.
Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.
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The debate over the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent to crime has been a long-standing and complex issue. Numerous studies and analyses have been conducted to determine its impact on crime rates, with a growing body of evidence suggesting that the death penalty does not effectively deter crime. This essay examines the arguments and evidence supporting this viewpoint.
Moreover, the theory of deterrence relies on the assumption that individuals make rational decisions based on the potential consequences of their actions. However, many crimes, particularly violent crimes, are often committed in moments of passion, under the influence of substances, or by individuals with mental health issues. In such cases, the threat of any punishment, including the death penalty, is unlikely to be a significant deterrent.
There is also a moral argument against the use of the death penalty as a deterrent. This perspective holds that using the threat of death as a tool for preventing crime is ethically problematic and undermines the value of human life. It suggests that a society that values human rights and dignity should not resort to the death penalty, especially given the lack of evidence for its effectiveness as a deterrent.
In conclusion, the argument that the death penalty does not deter crime is supported by a lack of conclusive evidence of its effectiveness, the irrational nature of many crimes, the delayed process of carrying out executions, and moral considerations. As such, it raises significant questions about the justification and utility of the death penalty as a component of criminal justice systems.
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Death Penalty Doesnt Deter Crime Essay. (2023, Nov 14). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/death-penalty-doesnt-deter-crime-essay/
"Death Penalty Doesnt Deter Crime Essay." PapersOwl.com , 14 Nov 2023, https://papersowl.com/examples/death-penalty-doesnt-deter-crime-essay/
PapersOwl.com. (2023). Death Penalty Doesnt Deter Crime Essay . [Online]. Available at: https://papersowl.com/examples/death-penalty-doesnt-deter-crime-essay/ [Accessed: 20 Nov. 2023]
"Death Penalty Doesnt Deter Crime Essay." PapersOwl.com, Nov 14, 2023. Accessed November 20, 2023. https://papersowl.com/examples/death-penalty-doesnt-deter-crime-essay/
"Death Penalty Doesnt Deter Crime Essay," PapersOwl.com , 14-Nov-2023. [Online]. Available: https://papersowl.com/examples/death-penalty-doesnt-deter-crime-essay/. [Accessed: 20-Nov-2023]
PapersOwl.com. (2023). Death Penalty Doesnt Deter Crime Essay . [Online]. Available at: https://papersowl.com/examples/death-penalty-doesnt-deter-crime-essay/ [Accessed: 20-Nov-2023]
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Death Penalty Should Be Abolished
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “There is a certain right by which we many deprive a man of life, but none by which we may deprive him of death; this is mere cruelty.” With that being said, I strongly disagree with the death penalty.
David Hume’s wrote about “Enquiry concerning human understanding” and stated in those texts that we cannot justify these inferences about whether or not someone is capable of making the same mistake or actions repeatedly, through someone else’s ideas. We cannot justify future predictions from past experiences without some principles that indicate that our past determines our future. With that being said, who are we to take away someone else’s life because we “think” it would decrease crimes and prevent people from murdering other people. David humes mentioned, “Our inferences regarding matters of fact are ultimately based in probability. If experiences teaches us that two events are conjoined quite frequently, the mind will infer a strong cause link between them.”
Furthermore, “Authorities cannot claim the death penalty’s existence prevents crimes of murder; and often, the statistics do not support this claim anyhow (Lamperti, 2010).” I believe that the states who have the capital punishments have higher crime rates of murder than the states who do not have the capital punishment due to statistics. Also, there is a huge possibility that an innocent person may be put to death; for example, David Spence, Sabrina Butler, and George Stinney, as well as many other innocent lives being taken away. By taking away someone’s life because they took away someone else’s life is far from humane. How do two wrongs make a right? How many people would be the ones to pull the switch on someone else’s life? VERY few.
I have done my own research on why people become serial killers, and majority of them are NOT born that way. They are transformed that way by tragic experiences they endured. Others may argue that the experiences someone has been through does not give them the right to murder someone because not everyone turns to that route; But, not everyone has support from their families when they are sexually abused, mentally ill, or depressed. Not everyone has access to money for treatment. People are mentally and emotionally destroyed after being sexually abused or physically abused. For example, Aileen Wuornos who is known as a serial killer but not everyone knows about the tragic experiences she went through that led her to murder the men.
As a child she was raped by her father multiple times, she ran away from home in her teens and became a prostitute as a way of survival. She encountered men who was physically abusive with her and treated her unfairly, which led her to kill them because they triggered her natural instinct to protect herself. She turned to drugs as a coping mechanism because she did not have her parents to talk to, she did not have the money to see a therapist when she was raped by her father, and that could have changed the person she became. Why is it that we turn to death instead of seeking treatment for these individuals? Why are people inconsiderate and unforgiving. In my opinion, I believe we should be helping these individuals rather than murdering them.
People may argue that prison is more expensive than the death penalty, but that is arguable. “They require more lawyers, attorneys, leading to lengthy appellate waits while capable counsel is sought for the accused; security cost higher, cost for processing evidence, DNA testing (Caravan, 2005)”.
Although in Kant’s opinion “A death penalty is justified only regarding murder and not any other crime, unless it causes a very substantial damage to the society. It is impossible to allow a situation where a murderer would be entitled to any legal rights and would be able to justify his actions.” I strongly disagree with Kant’s opinion on the death penalty because he believes that it should be allowed to a certain extent, which is if a person murders someone.
But, what happens to the children or adults who are sexually abused? Is that not harsh enough to be put on the death penalty? Or is that not as severe in comparison to a crime of murder. I believe that it is just as serious as someone being murdered because it breaks a person mentally and emotionally. Kant was not being opened minded to other solutions on a person who has murdered someone. If your loved one murdered someone and you knew that was not the type of person that you remember them as, would you try and think of other solutions to help them regain consciousness to society? Or would you encourage the death penalty on them.
As I was listening to the speaker Joe Middleton he mentioned how if we do not consider the background on the person who murdered someone that is inconsiderate and inhumane. We should investigate on what the person to believe that violence was the answer. What did that person go through as a child or an adult that provoked them to murder someone. I found it interesting how he was talking about the country that my family and I are from, which is Belize. He was talking about how the death penalty was removed from Belize and is no longer used.
Ichinose once said, “Abolitionism (the death penalty should be abolished): generally argued through appeals to the cruelty of execution, the possibility of misjudgements in the trial etc.” I emphasize that the death penalty is horrifying and often misleading, which goes back to innocent people dying or being put on the death penalty row. Ichinose stated, “Is it true that the death penalty is the ultimate punishment? can we not suppose that the death penalty is less harmful than a life sentence or very lengthy incarceration? However, this view regarding the death penalty as less harmful than a lifelong sentence could lead to a paradox.”
This statement could be contradicting because “living” in prison for the rest of your life while your family, and friends move forward to accomplishing their goals could be depressing for a person who is sentenced life in prison. The thought of not being able to go to school, apply at jobs, watch your family grow, drive, and also do fun activities can be traumatizing for the person who is sentenced life in prison. I remember very vividly the day my brother was arrested and how much he missed out on for being in prison for a year, imagine your whole life. What is more punishing than having to repeat your daily routines in a prison?
Ichinose stated, “If this is the case, prisoners given the lifelong sentence will not make an effort at all to rehabilitate themselves, due to fear of the sentence being reduced to the death penalty. In addition, if a person is likely to be sentenced to death, the person might try to commit a more heinous crime, perhaps even in the court in order to be given a more severe sentence, i.e. a life sentence in prison. That is a paradox drawn from human nature.”
Karl Marx mentioned that the “Most detailed thoughts on capital punishment appeared in an article published in the New York Daily Tribune, February 18, 1853 (Marx, 1853). He constructed the article in the following way. First, he provided examples of cases that showed that the death penalty had a counter-deterrent or brutalizing effect; that is, that executions cause murders (Bohm, 2012).”
In conclusion, I will attain my belief on preventing the death penalty because it is far from humane. Murdering people is not the answer to crimes of murder. Taking away someone’s life because they murdered someone will do nothing, apart from removing another person off of this earth without providing them with counsel or forgiveness. There are no lessons being made with the death penalty, apart from presenting to people if they murder someone they will be on the death row.
- Ichinose, Masaki. “The Death Penalty Debate: Four Problems and New Philosophical Perspectives.” The University of Tokyo.
- Bohm, Robert. “Karl Marx and the Death Penalty.” 25 September 2008.
- Middleton, Joe.The Death Penalty TED talk video. “Abolishing The Mandatory Death Penalty.” 6 February 2017.
- Avaliani, Archil.“Kant- The Death Penalty”
- Humes, David. “Enquiry concerning human understanding”
Cite this page
Death Penalty Should Be Abolished. (2021, Jul 04). Retrieved from https://supremestudy.com/death-penalty-should-be-abolished/
"Death Penalty Should Be Abolished." supremestudy.com , 4 Jul 2021, https://supremestudy.com/death-penalty-should-be-abolished/
supremestudy.com. (2021). Death Penalty Should Be Abolished . [Online]. Available at: https://supremestudy.com/death-penalty-should-be-abolished/ [Accessed: 20 Nov. 2023]
"Death Penalty Should Be Abolished." supremestudy.com, Jul 04, 2021. Accessed November 20, 2023. https://supremestudy.com/death-penalty-should-be-abolished/
"Death Penalty Should Be Abolished," supremestudy.com , 04-Jul-2021. [Online]. Available: https://supremestudy.com/death-penalty-should-be-abolished/ . [Accessed: 20-Nov-2023]
supremestudy.com. (2021). Death Penalty Should Be Abolished . [Online]. Available at: https://supremestudy.com/death-penalty-should-be-abolished/ [Accessed: 20-Nov-2023]
Death Penalty Should Be Abolished. (2021, Jul 04). Retrieved November 20, 2023 , from https://supremestudy.com/death-penalty-should-be-abolished/
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