The Idea of Capital Punishment

While punishing crimes by death may seem outlandish to most, capital punishment, better known as the death penalty, is still legal in the majority of our states to this day. Surprisingly, studies show that the majority of citizens in the United States still support capital punishment. In my opinion, I believe that the death penalty should be abolished in all states for three reasons: the morals of using such an extreme punishment, the risk of an unfair judgement, and the risk of an error.

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To start, the most common argument proposed by opponents of the death penalty is how unjust and morally wrong it is. While the initial reaction for most when they’ve been wronged is to get “an eye for an eye,” most people would also agree that their actions based on their skewed judgement during those times would most likely be wrong. Although the “eye for an eye” approach may seem valid at first, if we take a closer look, it clearly seems out of place.

For example, we wouldn’t steal from a thief nor would we kill a killer. If we take a second to rationalize our thoughts and actions instead of reacting vengefully, then we can avoid an atrocious mistake. To use the death penalty would be, “Degrading the penal authorities as well as condoning the crime by repeating it which is a wanton cruelty (Bandes).” Another reason many people oppose the death penalty is because of a risk of unfair judgement. In other words, sometimes different sentences are given to the same committed crimes due to factors such as: race, gender, religion, ethnicity, and many more. While many could try to argue that judges would always remain unbiased, this is simply untrue. Two different studies, one conducted in January 2003 at University of Maryland and another report released from the New Jersey Supreme Court in August 2001 concluded that defendants are much more likely to be sentenced to death if their victims were white. Another research in April 2001 from the University of North Carolina shows that the death sentence is three and a half times more likely to be carried out if the victim was white.

The final reason I, along with many others, refuse to endorse the idea of capital punishment is because of the marginal errors that could lead to immense ramifications. I strongly believe the possible risk of accidentally executing someone innocent is not only not worth the “satisfaction” but also inevitable. To quote Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., “There’s always the possibility that mistakes will be made… There is no ability to correct a mistake where someone has, in fact, been executed.” Research from The Washington Post has also found that one hundred and twenty-five people that were sentenced to death were exonerated in 2014 alone. Along with that, more evidence concerning specific cases can potentially be brought up in the future that may disprove the need for the penalty. In March of 2014, a former prosecutor from a Louisiana case publicly apologized for helping put an innocent man on death row. Luckily, the man was exonerated and released before any irreversible mistakes, but this event clearly shows how the system could fail due to an overeager prosecution. In conclusion, the hypocrisy of using the death sentence to punish others is absurd. Although people do suffer from criminals, going to the extremities to punish them is immoral. We would risk the possibility of an error in the judicial system, such as sentencing an innocent person, or going through an unfair judgement. Because of these reasons, I believe capital punishment should be abolished in all states across the nation.   

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