The death penalty has been a contentious issue for decades, with both supporters and opponents passionately arguing for their positions. Proponents of the death penalty argue that it is a just punishment for heinous crimes, serves as a deterrent, and provides closure for victims’ families. However, opponents of the death penalty argue that it is inhumane, prone to error, and disproportionately affects certain groups, such as the poor and minorities. In my opinion, the death penalty should be abolished.
Firstly, the death penalty is an inherently flawed system that is prone to error. In 2014, the National Academy of Sciences released a report that found that the current system of capital punishment in the United States is “deeply flawed” and that there is “no credible evidence” that it deters crime. The report also found that the risk of executing an innocent person is unacceptably high. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, over 180 people have been exonerated from death row. This means that for every nine people executed, one innocent person has been released from death row. This is an unacceptable risk that cannot be justified.
Secondly, the death penalty is a costly and ineffective system. According to a study by the Kansas Judicial Council, the cost of a death penalty case is four times higher than a non-death penalty case. This is due to the lengthy appeals process, the high costs of specialized legal representation, and the increased cost of housing an inmate on death row. This money could be better spent on programs that address the root causes of crime, such as poverty, lack of education, and mental illness.
Thirdly, the death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment that violates basic human rights. The use of lethal injection, the most common method of execution in the United States, has been criticized for its potential to cause extreme pain and suffering. In some cases, the drugs used in lethal injection have been found to be ineffective, resulting in a prolonged and painful death. In addition, the death penalty is often applied disproportionately to people of color, those who are poor, and those with mental illnesses. This is a clear violation of the principle of equal justice under the law.
Lastly, the death penalty does not provide closure for victims’ families. While some may argue that the death penalty provides a sense of justice for victims’ families, studies have shown that this is not always the case. In fact, many families have reported that the lengthy appeals process and the uncertainty of when, or if, the execution will take place only prolongs their pain and suffering.
In conclusion, the death penalty is an outdated and ineffective system that violates basic human rights and is prone to error. The cost of the death penalty is unjustifiable, and the risk of executing an innocent person is too high. It is time for society to move towards more effective and humane forms of punishment that focus on rehabilitation and addressing the root causes of crime. The abolition of the death penalty would be a significant step towards a more just and equitable society.
National Academy of Sciences. (2014). Deterrence and the Death Penalty. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Kansas Judicial Council. (2012). Economic Costs of the Death Penalty. Topeka, KS: Kansas Judicial Council.
American Civil Liberties Union. (2018). The Death Penalty: Questions and Answers. Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/issues/capital-punishment/death-penalty-questions-and-answers
Gross, S., Jacoby, K., Matheson, D., Montgomery, J., & Paternoster, R. (2014). A Broken System: Error Rates in Capital Cases, 1973-2013.