Why the Death Penalty is Wrong and Ineffective

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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The debate about capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, has been going on for many years. The problem surrounding it is, is it right to judge a person and kill them?

Definition and Implications for Victim’s Families

Capital Punishment is defined as the practice of killing people as punishment for serious crimes. (Webster). What does it give to the families of the victims? To some, it gives closure, but to others, it means nothing since their loved ones are still dead.

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Case Study: William Hudson

On the night of November 14, 2015, A man named William Hudson killed six people from the families of Johnson and Kamp and was indicted on three counts of capital murder. (the eagle). The reason for this heinous act was over land as Prosecutor Lisa Tanner told the court that Hudson was upset that Thomas Kamp (one of the six people he killed) had purchased the land, which used to belong to Hudson’s family. (Dallas News). Mental health experts were called to testify by Hudson’s attorneys in the trial’s punishment phase said Hudson had suffered brain damage from multiple seizures at various points in his life, two car accidents, and extreme alcohol abuse. However, Mental health experts called by prosecutors said Hudson had a personality disorder, not a mental illness, and was not likely to be helped by the treatment options available to him. ‘This is just who he is,’ said Special Prosecutor Lisa Tanner. ‘

This is a man who is not gonna change. That ought to scare you.’ (the eagle).

Case Study: Isidro Miguel Delacruz

Another man named Isidro Miguel Delacruz is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend’s five-year-old daughter. He told detectives he walked over to her house about 2 a.m. that morning and, “She was all angry. She kept saying she wanted money. I was pretty drunk, and I was just going to go into Naiya’s room to give her a hug and a kiss goodnight.” Delacruz continued in the recorded interview, “I felt something sharp on my arm in Naiya’s room and found the knife on her bed.” The 27-year-old told police there was so much blood, and he kept asking Bermea why she did it. Then, “I slapped Tanya across the face and threw the knife at her.” “Y’all tried to blame it on me, and I didn’t do anything!” said Delacruz, who was handcuffed and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit during the interview. Testimony last week showed that the blood on the knife belonged to Naiya and Delacruz. In that video, Delacruz said the murder weapon, the knife, was his. He said he was training to be a cook at Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant on Knickerbocker Rd. and a senior cook who was training him gave him the knife. (Santangelo Live).

The De La Cruz family believes Naiya was accidentally killed during a scuffle after Isidro De La Cruz showed up at Tanya Bermea’s house in the middle of the night to tell her he had fathered another child. Xrystan De La Cruz said the family believes Naiya’s throat was cut when Tanya Bermea, enraged over the breakup, attacked Isidro from behind with a large kitchen knife while he put Niaya to bed in her room. Isidro De La Cruz’s defense attorneys never explicitly introduced the idea of an accidental killing during the trial, but they argued the two drunk adults fought in a dark house that night. Both Xrystan De La Cruz and Elizabeth Rodriguez said they are unhappy with the court-appointed attorneys. Xrystan De La Cruz, who attended the trial, said she believes the jury had already condemned her brother-in-law long before reaching its verdict. Xrystan De La Cruz said her brother-in-law was in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Santangelo).

Advocates For and Against Capital Punishment

It is believed that no act goes without a consequence. Those who are for the death penalty believe that it is a consequence, that it is what murderers deserve. In the story of William Hudson, we can see how those who are for capital punishment might think he “deserves” the death penalty for the heinous act he committed.

– It is also thought that capital punishment will stop others from committing terrible crimes.

– In some aspects, it gives families of the victims a form of retribution.

Those who are against the death penalty believe that it is inhumane and unethical because, many times, the execution process goes wrong and causes the prisoner to go through high levels of pain. Austin Sarat is a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College; in 2014, he published a book called ‘Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty.’ In his book, he describes botched executions as “those involving unanticipated problems or delays that caused, at least arguably, unnecessary agony for the prisoner or that reflect gross incompetence of the executioner. An example of this is having administered the wrong dosages of specific drugs for lethal injections.’ (death penalty info). An example of a botched killing happened on April 23, 1992, with a man named Billy Wayne White. He was executed by lethal injection and was pronounced dead some 47 minutes after being strapped to the execution gurney. The delay was caused by difficulty finding a vein during the execution.

White had to assist the authorities in finding a suitable vein. (death penalty info). Those who are against the death penalty argue that innocent people are killed. In many cases, prisoners are killed and later found innocent. The death penalty is a punishment that is irreversible, so taking the life of another innocent person who happened to be at the wrong place at the right time is murder completely unjustified. In the case of Isidro Miguel Delacruz, a man who claims he is innocent and whose attorney and prosecutors never thought of following other leads. If he is executed and later found innocent, will his death be justified? People against capital punishment also argue that executions are very costly. In the state of Texas, death penalty cases cost more than non-capital cases. This means that each case costs taxpayers about $2.3 million. That is about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years. (‘Executions Cost Texas Millions,’ Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992).

The Education Level of Prisoners and Its Implication

Another fact that advocates against the death penalty use is that many of the prisoners, including the executed, are uneducated. The average education level of a prisoner on death row is 12th grade, a high school education. William Hudson has a 10th-grade education but later got his GED, and Delacruz has a 12th-grade level. In 2012 a study was taken, and data was found, as seen in Figure 1, 14% have at least finished the 8th grade, 9% have any college education, 42% have finished high school or got their GED, and 36% did start high school, but did not finish. The US Supreme Court has considered capital punishment as “cruel and unusual punishment” and therefore unconstitutional, yet states are still able to conduct state killings. Most states have voted to get rid of the death penalty, and only a few, like the state of Texas, have kept it. The death penalty is wrong because the costs outweigh the benefits.


  1. Executions Cost Texas Millions. (1992, March 8). Dallas Morning News.
  2. Webster’s Dictionary. Definition of Capital Punishment.
  3. Sarat, A. (2014). Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty.
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Why the Death Penalty is Wrong and Ineffective. (2023, Jun 21). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/why-the-death-penalty-is-wrong-and-ineffective/