Should death penalty be abolished?

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Concerns over capital punishment have sparked heated debates about whether it is ideal or not. Opponents to the death penalty contend because it is inhumane and deprives alleged offenders of their dignity and civil rights, because it is inefficient because it can be unfair, and because it is permanent. Indeed, the religious argue that the death penalty elevates humans beyond their domain, given that only the giver of life has the power to take it away. As a Catholic, I believe, and therefore the death penalty should be repealed, and offenders should be treated in more humane ways, such as life imprisonment. I feel death is a simple way out compared to a life imprisonment that the offenders may also prefer, but their lives are not isolated and their death also affects other people emotionally particularly the family.

The irrevocability of the death penalty makes it wrong since there can be a possibility of error even in the most advanced criminal justice system like the United States. If evidence may be provided later suggesting that the already dead criminal was innocent, nothing can be done to render justice to him or her. That makes capital punishment ineffective. There have been cases of innocent people dying only for new evidence to suggest otherwise. According to Greenspan (1), one such example is that of Lena Baker, a Black American woman who executed in Georgia with allegations of killing her employer. Since ethnicity and gender inequality were dominant, Baker was tried, convicted and executed by white males. However, new evidence generated after her death suggested that it was voluntary manslaughter in self-defense which would equal to a maximum of fifteen years in prison. Although the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a pardon 2005 August, Lena was dead, and no amount of amnesty or compensation would undo the mistake. Others who suffer similarly leave their family in much pain and grief and the situation is aggravated when evidence suggests otherwise. The humanitarian action is to keep a person in prison even for a lifetime. I believe sometimes those who do some grievous criminal activities may have been triggered by something and not a pre-meditated thing, but since it is good to take responsibility of one’s actions, life imprisonment would be great.

The death penalty is inhuman, promotes inequality and robs people of their dignity by placing the jury above the domains of human beings. The origin of life is God, and no human being should be allowed to decide whether to take the life of another or not. I firmly believe that no man should play the role of God apart from God Himself. In fact, Wells (3) suggest that death penalty has been used over time to promote racism, sexism, and classism. In the majority of the death penalties, the poor and the Blacks are at a disadvantage compared to the high-class American natives. Its progression will result in more deaths of the minority groups and make it challenging to promote equality in the United States. This inhumane nature of capital punishment affects not only the victims but also the families of alleged criminals. It is incomprehensible for another human being to watch their kin dying for whatever crime they did. Such may result in resentment, anger, and even depression of close families of the executed kin. Sadly, capital punishments are executed publicly rendering the person a public spectacle of something that is dehumanizing and agonizing (Steiker 211). Such treatment and publication are against the human rights and dignity no matter the kind of crime one engaged. Therefore, in promoting death penalty, the judicial system fosters inequality instead of justice and causes more pain than it should be. In fact, Bessler (1) highlight that the death penalty in its entire scope is against the 8th Amendment of the Constitution since it is cruel.

The proponents of death penalty suggest that it should be pursued given that it is cheaper than life imprisonment. Nonetheless, such arguments are inaccurate since death penalty takes long to execute from the time of arrest and conviction. According to Amnesty International, the death penalty is 70% higher than a non-death punishment of criminals. California Commission on Fair Administration of Justice (2008) reiterates this suggestion by stating that a life imprisonment will cost a maximum of $11.5 million while the capital punishment costs approximately $237 million. The non-monetary costs are also higher in capital punishment compared to other forms of punishment including life incarceration. The emotional baggage of the offender’s family and the family of the victim increases following the death penalty. The reality of the matter is even in the murder of the alleged criminal, justice cannot be fully rendered by death penalty since harm is already done. For instance, if the convict murdered a person in the robbery, his/her execution won’t restore the victim back to life.

In conclusion, the death penalty should be banned because of its severity and irrevocability. And since human error is possible even in the most advanced criminal justice systems, life imprisonment would be a better alternative to capital punishment. Additionally, life imprisonment allows criminals to reform, can act as a deterrent to crime and is way cheaper to capital punishment. By executing death penalty publicly, the jury makes a person’s death a public affair which is inhuman and unfair. It is robbing alleged criminals their rights and dignity and esteeming other human beings to the position of God by giving them the choice of taking person’s life or not. Therefore, in all dimensions and arguments, the death penalty should be abolished and other means of punishment adopted since it even promotes racism, sexism, and classism.

Works Cited

Amnesty International

Bessler, John D. "The Inequality of America's Death Penalty: A Crossroads for Capital Punishment at the Intersection of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments." (2016).

California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, July 1, 2008

Greenspan, Stephen. "Posthumous pardons granted in American history." (2011).

Steiker, Jordan. "The American death penalty from a consequentialist perspective." Tex. Tech L. Rev. 47 (2014): 211.

Wells, Mariah. "The Future of Capital Punishment in America: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides." (2014).

July 24, 2021

Human Rights Illness

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