Opinions On The Death Penalty Essays

The idea of putting another human to death is hard to completely fathom. The physical mechanics involved in the act of execution are easy to grasp, but the emotions involved in carrying out a death sentence on another person, regardless of how much they deserve it, is beyond my own understanding. However, this act is sometimes necessary and it is our responsibility as a society to see that it is done. Opponents of capital punishment have basically four arguments.

The first is that there is a possibility of error. However, the chance that there might be an error is separate from the issue of whether the death penalty can be justified or not. If an error does occur, and an innocent person is executed, then the problem lies in the court system, not in the death penalty. Furthermore, most activities in our world, in which humans are involved, possess a possibility of injury or death. Construction, sports, driving, and air travel all offer the possibility of accidental death even though the highest levels of precautions are taken.  These activities continue to take place, and continue to occasionally take human lives, because we have all decided, as a society, that the advantages outweigh the unintended loss. We have also decided that the advantages of having dangerous murderers removed from our society outweigh the losses of the offender.

The second argument against capital punishment is that it is unfair in its administration. Statistics show that the poor and minorities are more likely to receive the death penalty. Once again, this is a separate issue.  It can’t be disputed sadly, the rich are more likely to get off with a lesser sentence, and this bias is wrong. However, this is yet another problem of our current court system. The racial and economic bias is not a valid argument against the death penalty. It is an argument against the courts and their unfair system of sentencing.

The third argument is actually a rebuttal to a claim made by some supporters of the death penalty. The claim is that the threat of capital punishment reduces violent crimes. Opponents of the death penalty do not agree and have a valid argument when they say, “The claims that capital punishment reduces violent crime is inconclusive and certainly not proven.”

The fourth argument is that the length of stay on death row, with its endless appeals, delays, technicalities, and retrials, keep a person waiting for death for years on end. It is both cruel and costly. This is the least credible argument against capital punishment. The main cause of such inefficiencies is the appeals process, which allows capital cases to bounce back and forth between state and federal courts for years on end. If supporting a death row inmate for the rest their life costs less than putting them to death, and ending their financial burden on society, then the problem lies in the court system, not in the death penalty. As for the additional argument, that making a prisoner wait for years to be executed is cruel, then would not waiting for death in prison for the rest of your life be just as cruel, as in the case of life imprisonment without parole.

Many Americans will tell you why they are in favor of the death penalty. It is what they deserve. It prevents them from ever murdering again. It removes the burden from taxpayers. We all live in a society with the same basic rights and guarantees. We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with equal opportunities. This is the basis for our society. It is the foundation on which everything else is built upon. When someone willfully and flagrantly attacks this foundation by murdering another, robbing them of all they are, and all they will ever be, then that person can no longer be a part of this society. The only method that completely separates cold blooded murderers from our society is the death penalty.

As the 20th century comes to a close, it is evident that our justice system is in need of reform. This reform will shape the future of our country, and we cannot jump to quick solutions such as the elimination of the death penalty. As of now, the majority of American supports the death penalty as an effective solution of punishment.

“An eye for an eye,” is what some Americans would say concerning the death penalty. Supporters of the death penalty ask the question, “Why should I, an honest hardworking taxpayer, have to pay to support a murderer for the rest of their natural life? Why not execute them and save society the cost of their keep?” Many Americans believe that the death penalty is wrong. However, it seems obvious to some Americans that the death penalty is a just and proper way to handle convicted murderers.

   An article ran in the January issue of The 21st Century supporting the death penalty. I feel that it is important to print an article in opposition to capital punishment.

The death penalty has always been one of the most hotly debated issues in the United States. As our country grows older and wiser, however, evidence clearly points to the fact that the death penalty is not a good solution.

There is no question that killing another person is the most heinous crime that one can commit. I am not sure why, but it seems that our government is being hypocritical when it states that capital punishment is allowable because, after all, the criminal did murder an innocent victim, and therefore should be killed. This is known as the "eye-for-an-eye, and tooth-for-a- tooth theory." Of course, if we used this system all the time, there would be no need for laws. If someone hits me, I would hit him/her back. How simple, we can all be primitive again.

A second argument that some people use to support capital punishment is that the fear of being given the death penalty is going to stop criminals from murdering. How many criminals would murder in the first place, even in a state where there is no capital punishment, if they thought there was a chance of getting caught? Most murderers feel that they have a fool-proof plan to get away with murder. Unfortunately, most are right.

In response, I believe that the Bill of Rights, specifically the Eighth Amendment, prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. If there is any punishment much crueler than death, please let me know.

In addition, it is time to face the fact that our judicial system is prejudiced. For instance; in southern states, 8 percent of the black criminals who murder get the death penalty. Only 1 percent of white murderers get capital punishment. Also, murderers are seven times more likely to get the death penalty for murdering a white person as they are if they murdered a black person. This strikes me as blatant prejudice.

Finally and most importantly, no one, including a judge, is perfect. What happens if a person is given capital punishment and evidence turns up later which reveals that this person is innocent? If the "criminal" was put in jail, at least partial reparations could be made later. Obviously, if a person is given the death penalty, there is no turning back.

Indeed, it is not fair that murderers are often given parole after only a few years in jail. That is the reason that I would suggest those convicted of murder should be jailed for life with no option for parole. No matter how good the murderer is in jail, he/she should not be given parole. There are plenty of bridges and roads that need to be repaired. Let the convicted murderer work for the public good for the rest of his life. True, this will never make up totally for the misery of the victim's loved ones. But at this point in time, it seems better than the alternative.n


This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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