Death Penalty: The Cruelty of American Penal System

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Imagine your loved ones or yourself going through capital punishment.. being sentenced to death creating fear in an individual's mind. It is said by Roger Hood, “Capital punishment is also known as the death penalty execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court law of the criminal offense.” Many might say if a person murders another individual why let them live when a crime has been committed? Although why not let the person rot in jail or live through morale by making their life miserable while having to follow rules? Being death sentenced takes patience and a long period of time until the court decides if the individual should be sentenced. In a matter of fact, it may even take months or even years until a final decision is given. Although yes, many might want justice for the victim but why not find another way instead of putting someone through such a harsh road by making the executor and the people who agree with the death penalty murderers too? Capital punishment is, by its very nature, a “cruel and usual” form of punishment and for that reason alone, it should not be part of the American Penal system.

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The first reason capital punishment should not be part of the American Penal system is that it is a cruel act. Many individuals tend to fall into depression, delusion, or a serious physical illness by the thought of them facing death at some point not knowing exactly when their time will come causing the individual unique existential stress. Although, putting the individual in that position shows cruelty happening while having to live each day with that fear. Not only is the death road cruel, but it is a long period of torture that violates the 8th amendment such as “unusual punishments” and the 14th amendment that promises “equal protection of laws.” Although, Equal protection may not be too easy in a courtroom during trials because many individuals face unfairness happening due to their color of the skin causing a higher risk for them to face a death execution or “blame.” Although, Some might say that the 8th amendment does not violate “unusual punishments,” it all depends on how the jury and the executor address the execution and how they proceed with it. Nevertheless, I believe it is a cruel act to kill a person no matter how bad the crime is. As a religious person, I believe this also falls into religious documents on cruelty such as the commandments said at a church. As well capital punishment does go against religion! According to the “6th commandment” it is said, “thou shalt not kill” meaning if a person commits a murder and does it back it is considered the same crime, does that make the executor a murderer too? Some might disagree and say that the death penalty is not cruel and that a person who kills deserves to die but why not use other ways to manage this situation instead of having the offender go through a harsh punishment showing the rest of the society a cruel act happening to one another.

Furthermore, capital punishment should not be part of the American Penal system because people deserve a second chance to change under parole instead of giving a cruel action toward the individual. It is said that many people tend to change their life around when being behind bars such as becoming a better individuals by learning from their experiences and mistakes. An article written by “Thompson” on a guy named Tookie Williams, “ a former leader of the notorious Crips gang in Los Angeles, renounced his past and wrote a series of anti-gang books geared towards youth.” In other words, he was not proud of the person he was in the past and did not want others to commit the same mistakes and crimes. Nevertheless, there were many other prisoners who later in life became poets and writers after their experience while being behind bars for a long period of time. I believe many people grow and have a better state of mindset while being in prison. They start to change throughout time by re-thinking twice towards their actions that many may face if the same crime is committed. Furthermore, in “ The Case for a Second Chance” on Roberts Gattis case it is said that, “ while growing up as a child he suffered systematically abuse and neglect.” In other words, he was picked on by his own family members in a sexual way and was physically abused. Nevertheless, Gattis was convicted for killing the person he loved, Shirly Slay. He was on death row for 20 years for the actions being used against his girlfriend. It is said that when an individual grows older they are more likely to commit a crime by the way they were treated at a young age. Many tend to carry that anger around them and think it is okay to treat others the same way. Although, By giving a person a second chance they are more likely to change when receiving special services such as phycology to become a better person. As well by receiving some kind of service/ treatment helps the individual understand life in a better way and helps the individual relieve the anger they carry around them so the same crime is not committed twice.

Lastly, capital punishment should not be part of the American Penal system because it is inconsistent or “unusual” in the application of who will and who will die. According to Erik, a story is said that “ Cameron Todd Willingham in 1922, was convicted of Arson murder in Texas. He was believed to have intentionally set a fire that killed his kids, he was then put to death. Unfortunately, The Texas Forensic Science Commission later found that the evidence was misinterpreted which turned out that the fire was really an accident.” In other words, an execution was done on Cameron with no clear evidence for the murder of his kids. This tells us there is a huge problem in our society in coming up with physical and reasonable evidence of proving in a murder scene. A lot of people are blaming the defendants because they either have a bad record history or because of their race and are basing their actions on that by making it look like they are more likely to commit a crime. Furthermore, it should not be decided who does or does not deserve to live. Furthermore, there is another story about a young 17-year-old boy who was committed to capital murder and was executed. Although after twelve years of his death investigators found out that the 17-year-old boy named Ruben Cantu never committed the murder and was not around during the time the murder even happened. As we see in these two short stories there was an older and a younger individual who was convicted and put to death by accident. Does this sound fair? Does someone deserve to get their life taken away when being innocent? After an individual is put to death by accident that family will have to live each day with that anger towards the justice system. As well their family will have to suffer without seeing their beloved ones that turned out to be innocent. According to “Pilkington,” “ at least 4.1% of all defendants are sentenced to death in the United States in the modern era when innocent.” In other words, that crime that was not committed is usually described as not “ merely unknown but unknowable.” For this type of reason, it has come to a point where capital punishment should not be allowed in any way.

Clearly, capital punishment can be cruel and unusual punishment that may devastate the person themselves and their families causing heartbreak. Why take someone's life away without giving that person a chance to change or even accidentally take the person's life away with no real evidence? If a person murders why not let them live through that crime so each day they can carry that regret in their mind? To add on, why not let the person rot in jail instead of convicting them? If a person is killed by accident do we really want to feel responsible for that agreement that we made during a courthouse? Do we want to feel like it is our fault because we took some part of an agreement on the death penalty? No matter how bad the crime is life should not be taken away in any way because murder will always be considered murder. 

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