My sixteen year old daughter crafted this paper for her first college class and wanted dear old Dad to post it on his blog. So here I will fill my filial obligation to my spirited young filly. I am certainly opposed to the death penalty myself because I think no state should have any power to take the lives of its citizens. It always historically abuses such a prerogative. Chloe addresses a few other concerns. The paper is unedited and remains the province of my precocious daughter. -BB
Killing the Killers
The death penalty is an unprincipled, barbaric punishment that uses words such as “justice” and “retribution” to disguise a painfully vicious crime against the American people. The risk-taking involved in giving the U.S. government such tremendous power is an unnecessary and foolish action. With large governments comes large responsibility, and that responsibility should not include choosing life and death for its citizens. The death penalty is an immoral and unjustified act of violence and greed. This disturbing law puts the government behind economically because of its ridiculously high cost and politically with its outdated, barbaric act of violence. With such high numbers of convictions, the risk of innocent executions is higher. The common mindset among jurors, a premeditated assumption of guilt, leaves the accused, whether innocent or guilty, without a chance. The death penalty is wrong because it is illogical, immoral, and prejudicial.
The Corruptions of Capital Punishment
There are many faults with the death penalty. Its illogical standpoint results in numerous malfunctions; its immoral mindset teaches Americans that life is undervalued and that the government has the power to take it away if they so desire. The last flaw of the death penalty is its prejudicial view that creates the risk of innocent executions. With its many flaws the death penalty has no reason to exist.
The largest flaw of the death penalty is its illogicality. Though it was thought that the death penalty deterred crime, a recent study proves otherwise. A study done by the Death Penalty Information Center in 1995, says that murderers thinking of future consequences is 82% inaccurate and the death penalty significantly reducing the number of homicides is 67% inaccurate (“Dispelling the Myths”). If the death penalty is meant to deter crime, and it doesn’t, why does the U.S. still have the death penalty?
Its cost system is nowhere near effective. A study done by the United States Kansas Legislative Post Audit in 2003 discovered that the cost of death penalty cases were 70% more than the cost of the non-death penalty cases, the study also found that the median legal cost of the death penalty cases was $1.26 million whereas the median legal cost of the non-death penalty cases was $740,000 (qtd. in United States. Dept. of Public Advocacy). It puts the United States behind socially, making its politicians seem behind the times. Lastly, by claiming death solves death, they have a clear misunderstanding of the simplest logic.
The U.S. death penalty is a painfully immoral and unjustified act. No matter the opinion, it is common knowledge that morals are extremely strict; many search for the gray areas, but right and wrong are clear. It is wrong to steal a cookie from the jar, it is right to leave the cookie in the jar. It is wrong to kill someone, it is right to let them live. Morals are really to the point. Death, crime, and killing are much more complicated than the intense decision to eat the cookie, or not to eat the cookie. Yet morals are simple, they are the natural instinct, one’s religion, the voice in one’s head called a conscience, it is called many things in many countries and cultures, but everyone knows since they were a small child that killing someone is wrong. So why does the U.S. do it?
Last, but certainly not least, the death penalty is prejudicial. In 1990, twenty-eight studies done by the United States Government Accountability Office show that in 82% of the studies, the victim’s race influenced the likelihood of the defendant being charged with murder or receiving the death penalty, making black men more likely to get convicted than white men. With racism being a sensitive subject, this gives the United States political system a bad image. The death penalty continues to give itself a bad image by executing the mentally insane and handicapped. For example: Robert Moormann was executed at the old age of 63, despite his history of mental illness which was proven by a psychologist (Zennie and Boyle). This outdated, cruel state of mind, affects many people negatively, making the men of the United States government look incapable of clear judgment.
The United States Façade Should Be Finished
Any remaining states in the United States should have the death penalty abolished. The cons far outweigh the pros, making for a weak argument. The death penalty has adverse effects, making the law abiding citizens more fearful than their criminal counterparts, the United States government is using it as a play of power rather than a justified act for the American people. Therefore the death penalty should be abolished.
The Frustratingly Factitious Favoring Facet
On the pro death penalty side of the table, many claim that the death penalty deters crime. Though that would be a justified reason for the death penalty, that theory is inaccurate. As mentioned before, a study done by the Death Penalty Information Center in 1995, says that murderers thinking of the future consequences is 82% inaccurate and the death penalty significantly reducing the number of homicides is 67% inaccurate (“Dispelling the Myths”). With that being the case, the death penalty is unnecessary, like an animal trap that works on every animal except the one the hunter is after.
Another case the pro death penalty side argues is that the death penalty is a perfectly moral act. Journalists who prey on the fear of buyers, put the American people into a craze, fearful of the ever looming death that journalists so excitedly describe. When driven into their natural survival state, people tend to become protective of themselves, as well as others. In this state they see things differently. Since they are entranced in their survival mode, they feel the need to kill the killers to ensure their survival. Though in theory, eliminating the threat makes you safe, as mentioned before, the death penalty does not deter future crimes, and in all practicality there are too many threatening people to get them all, whether the death penalty was actually successful or not. So when the people are in this crazed survival state they find it perfectly justifiable and moral to eliminate the threats upon themselves and their loved ones. Yet can two wrongs make a right? By stating someone has morals and is pro-death penalty, at least one lie is being told. One who has morals cannot possibly choose death for another person. Having morals means doing the right more difficult thing, and considering others before oneself, therefore morally whether they care about the person or not, they cannot justify letting them die.
The last point that the pro side argues quite passionately, is the emotional relief it brings, that it will be relieving to the victims’ families and an act of justice. This more illogical aspect of the pro death penalty side is one that appeals too many, due to death being such an emotional act. Death is fascinating to most, they consider how painful it would be to die, questions of an afterlife, and who would care if they were left behind. “What will happen when I die?” is one of life’s most common questions. Yet what they do not ask is “What will happen when someone else dies?” Since the questions remain unanswered, they are subjecting someone to the unknown. The irony of it all being, they are putting someone else through unimaginable pain to protect their own emotions, when they are not going to be protected or relieved. The reality of it all is that the victim is never coming back, and they added another victim, the family of the accused. They must carry the burden of the knowledge that their family member is dead and cannot undo any of the wrong he has done. The death penalty is not an act of justice or a solution, but an immature, vengeful act to relieve emotional pain, that will never actually be relieved.
Expanding on the Endless Exactitude
The death penalty violates one of America’s most sacred documents: The United States Constitution. The 8th amendment of the Bill of Rights states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted,” (Madison). This is an extremely clear statement, yet it is defied deliberately by the U.S. government. Killing is both cruel and unusual, though the statement of Americans’ rights was clear, they are defied, and the U.S. government is granted the right to kill its own citizens.
The larger the program, the larger risk of error, innocent men get trapped behind bars, due to being falsely convicted. Faulty evidence and bad representation can lead to accidental convictions. Mosi Makori, a volunteer at the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization located in the U.S. whose main purpose is to prove the innocence of the wrongly convicted, said in an interview that when the men are released it is a massive challenge for them to reconnect with the world. He continued on saying that it is rather traumatizing for them to revisit the place where they had a bad experience, and with the court system fighting the exonerated so fiercely they are forced to come back multiple times (Makori). By taking away their money, reputation, and essentially their support system, the government ends up taking everything away from them, they must not only start from scratch but they must tell future employers they have been to jail. The government ends up taking away the lives of innocent men.
With what seems to be an eternity waiting on death row and its tendency to wrongfully convict previous criminals, the death penalty is inhumane. In the interview, Makori mentioned how the system ends up targeting previously convicted men, due to the assumption of guilt. Though tigers usually do not change their stripes a previously convicted criminal will have a much harder time proving innocence, making it so past choices define his entire life. Men can sit on death row for many years before ever being executed never knowing which day will be their last. Though they did vile, cruel things, how does treating them the same way make the prison system any better? Treating them as if they were animals only reflects one’s own hidden darkness. With these barbaric actions, the United States is unnecessarily cruel and inhumane.
In modern day, racial issues are extremely common. Black men and women feel owed due to their ancestor’s pain and neglect. White men and women argue that that is not applicable due to it being in the past, and they themselves did not inflict any pain. This in turn results in American’s being conscientious of the things they say and do, afraid of being mocked or called racist. With the issue of racism being such a sensitive subject, the death penalty makes the United States political system look neglectful and outdated.
Pain upon Pain
What the accused did is not right, when they committed horrendous crimes on innocent people they caused endless pain. They created many victims. But how does adding more pain solve the problem? The U.S. ends up adding more and more pain, piling on top of the revolting pile of pain, death, and victims. Men die, that in itself is tragic. Whether they were bad or good, they died. All the death stacks up into a heaping pile of stench. There are all the victims: the family of the original victim, the family of the accused, the accidental innocent executions, the men who have to kill the criminals. It all becomes a sticky, rotting heap of pain, agony, and utter despair. The death upon death is unnecessary and gut wrenchingly painful to many, so many. How does adding hate upon hate fix hate? How does killing the killers set an example? And how can anyone with any virtue, innocence, or empathy stand by and let more killing be done?
“Dispelling the Myths About the Usefulness of the Death Penalty.” Does Capital Punishment Deter Crime? Ed. Stephen E. Schonebaum. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2010. At Issue. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 27 Mar. 2012.
Madison, James. The Bill of Rights. 1789. The Charters of Freedom. The Charters of Freedom. n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2012.
Makori, Mosi. Personal interview. 22 Apr. 2012.
United States. Dept. of Public Advocacy. Commonwealth of Kentucky. “ABA: The Kentucky Death Penalty Assessment Report.” Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 2003. Web. 15 Apr. 2012.
United States. Government Accountability Office. “Research Indicates Pattern of Racial Disparities.” U.S. Government Accountability Office. U.S. Government Accountability Office, 1990. Web. 15 Apr. 2012.
Zennie, Michael, and Louise Boyle. “Arizona Executes Mentally Disabled Inmate Who Murdered Mother After Last Meal of Hamburger, French Fries, Burritos and Rocky Road Ice-Cream.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd, Feb. 2012. Web. 1 Mar. 2012.