Capital punishment should be a thing of the past

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Gone are the days when people were publicly hanged for their crimes, but we don’t live in a better society. Just because criminals’ deaths aren’t on full display doesn’t mean they are no longer being slaughtered for something they probably did, but may have not done.

Since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, about 1,500 people have been executed, according to an article from CNN. The Death Penalty Information Center notes that there are over 2,800 people currently on death row, which is far too many. That number should be zero.

Society and the law agree that killing someone is wrong and that no one should be able to decide when to end someone’s life, but capital punishment does just that. It’s not any better for a group of people to decide someone deserves to die anymore than it is for one person to make the choice to kill someone. Sentencing someone to the death penalty is no better than killing them yourself.

A big problem I have is if a person is wrongfully convicted and actually innocent.  From 2000 to 2011, there was an average of five exonerations per year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. That margin of error is much too large for me to feel comfortable seeing anyone sentenced to death.

Lethal injection is the most common form of capital punishment, and includes anesthesia, so the experience will be a painless and acceptable to the public. A study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, found that most of the people who administer the anesthesia are not medically trained and often do not monitor the amount of anesthesia administered. This means some inmates might experience awareness and suffering during execution. It doesn’t matter what a person did to be put on death row; no one deserves a painful death.

When I express my views on capital punishment people always ask me, ‘If it were you, and someone killed your whole family? Wouldn’t you want to see them die?’ I don’t believe that seeing another human beings life end would bring me comfort. According to, studies have shown that it is not the best way for families to get closure. Court cases seeking capital punishment can carry on for years and go through a lengthy appeals process, as opposed to one trial that can result in a life in prison. also noted that victims families were more satisfied with the criminal justice system and experienced higher levels of physical, psychological, and behavioral health when the convicted was sentenced to life in prison rather than death. I’ve never once thought the world would be better if we just murdered a person, and if they’re locked up in prison and will never be released, is it really that different? A better alternative is life without parole, which is also less expensive. According to the Death Penalty Information Center a capital punishment trial costs 300 percent more than a normal one, in Kansas. In California, which has the largest death penalty system in the United States, it costs $90,000 more per year to house, feed and guard a death row inmate than a general population prisoner.

Furthermore, it is also expensive to obtain lethal injection drugs, and the cost is increasing. According to an article from the Associated Press, the cost to obtain the drugs in Virginia increased from $525 per
execution to $16,500 in just a year. If a prisoner is sentenced to life without parole, they will never get out and taxpayers won’t have to pay for death row’s pricey housing costs or the medication needed to kill someone. That saves a lot of money, and a lot of lives.

Finally, there is no proof that having capital punishment will lower the homicide rate or deter murder, according to a study by the National Research Council of the
National Academics. So if it doesn’t help to kill people, money and resources should not be wasted to do so. Not to mention, killing someone in any sense is wrong. If we as a society find it acceptable to kill someone who we deem has done something punishable by death, that could signal to the average person that they can do the same, and that’s how we got in this situation in the first place.

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