Many topics in the United States are put up for dispute every day. Capital
punishment is often the topic of much controversy. Many individuals believe
that the death penalty should be put into use, while others believe that it is
detrimental to society. However, there is no dispute in my eyes; capital
punishment is wrong. It is unconstitutional, immoral, has many imperfections,
is expensive, and does not reduce crime. First of all, the death penalty
violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution which prohibits cruel and
unusual punishments. In the case of Furman v. Georgia, the consequence of the
death penalty was deemed as a cruel and unusual punishment. Though Furman's
case was indeed a unique situation, we cannot repeatedly evaluate the
constitutionality of this same issue. If capital punishment is deemed
unconstitutional in one case, it must be deemed similarly in all cases.
However, constitutionality is not the only aspect that should be examined. The
case against the death penalty is even more valid when we examine class, race,
and gender prejudices. According to DeathPenaltyInfo.org, 42 % of death row
inmates are black. This is especially strange considering blacks only make up
12.6 % of the United States population. The numbers show that the criminal
justice system tends to put minorities on death row. This cannot be just. Don't
we stand for “liberty and justice for all”? How can a prejudiced system be
fair? Additionally, suspects who are in lower social classes cannot afford
better attorneys to defend them. Still others are wrongfully accused and
executed because of the flaws of the justice system. In the past 35 years
alone, 138 inmates were exonerated from death row after evidence of their
innocence was found. Though there may not be enough evidence at the time of
trial, jurors will oftentimes blame suspects out of pure prejudice.
Unfortunately, race and economic standing often skews a court's decision to put
a suspect on death row. In this way, the justice system can ruin the precious
lives of many.
Another significant reason why capital punishment should be abolished is
because it does not, in fact, reduce crime. Studies have shown that states that
enforce the death penalty have a higher crime rate than states that do not
enforce the death penalty. Though this may not have a concrete correlation to
deterring crime rates, it surely does not lessen the rate of violent crime.
Additionally, enforcing capital punishment is more expensive than keeping a
criminal in prison for life. This is money that our economy simply does not
have. As a nation that is trillions of dollars in debt, we cannot spare any
more money than is absolutely necessary. The money spent on the death penalty
is not a necessary expense. By getting rid of the death penalty, our nation can
save money and begin to rebuild our economy. Perhaps we can put this money to
better use in areas such as education or medical research.
Lastly, capital punishment is immoral. How can we, as fellow human beings, have
the right to execute another? After all, “an eye for an eye makes the whole
world blind.” If this is true, we cannot kill another just because we believe
we have the justification to do so. We cannot justify this gruesome act by
following Hammurabi's code. Our acts are accountable to whatever higher power
one believes in; we are not accountable to each other. It is not in our
authority to decide who lives and who dies. And, after all, isn't execution
just the murder of yet another individual?
The death penalty is wrong and dehumanizes our society. It is a cruel and
unusual punishment and wrongly accuses men and women annually. Because the
United States justice system makes many mistakes, innocent individuals will
continue to lose their lives to a flawed system. Furthermore, it is
discriminatory, does not reduce crime, and is too costly. From an ethical
standpoint, the death penalty is immoral and does not solve the problem at
hand. Unless we deter capital punishment in all fifty states, our nation will
not advance economically, socially, and ethically.
Goshen Central High School