Why The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished

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In 2018, twenty five American prisoners were sentenced to death. Is this morally wrong? Is this humane? Is this justice? These are only a few of the questions that may be posed when deliberating the death penalty. There are many shocking and unjustified arguments for sentencing people to death. Those opposed to the death penalty would argue that the death penalty is a barbaric breach of human rights; it is part of a flawed justice system that discriminates between people; and finally the high cost involved in delivering capital punishment is uneconomical. The death penalty, is without doubt, vindictive, outdated and an abhorrent punishment that should be abolished immediately.

As human beings we all have rights. For example the right to an education or the right to express an opinion. So how would it feel to have these rights taken away? According to the British Institute Of Human Rights, we all have a right to not be tortured or treated in an inhumane or degrading way. So why is it that this human right becomes invalid once someone has committed a crime? The death penalty is using the very behaviour it is trying to punish and prevent. Without question, life is sacred and should be valued and respected. Unfortunately, the death penalty is a system based on revenge. This outdated system is vengeful and morally dubious and gives the wrong message that killing someone, even by using the death penalty, is justified if it’s being used by the right person. The use of the death penalty clearly violates human rights.

As well as the death penalty being an infringement of human rights, it is also entrenched in a system which is deeply flawed and fraught with discrimination. When you are arrested you are told your rights; one of them being that you have a right to an attorney. But nothing is said about the quality of the attorney or how expensive they will be. Many of those on death row can’t afford their own attorney and are often assigned an inexperienced attorney. Tell me, with your life on the line, would you trust someone who is overworked, inexperienced and unprepared to defend you? There have also been cases where, because of skin colour or ethnicity, it has been shown that you are less likely to win your case. Clearly this shocking racially biased punishment is wrong and would surprise many people that in this day and age this profoundly flawed practice is still occurring.

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Another example of a flawed system is with regard to jury selection. To be selected for jury duty you must be classified as ‘death eligible’. This means you have to be willing to convict knowing the death penalty is possible. For people who don’t believe in the death penalty it is very unlikely that they would be accepted for jury duty and that is because the jury is biased and more likely in favour of the death penalty. This shows an already unfair disadvantage as the jurors are already close minded and believe that the death penalty could be the right decision. We are all human. We all make mistakes and we learn from them. But this kind of mistake could potentially destroy countless number of innocent lives. As well as the flaws in the system there are also flaws and mistakes that can be made in the sentencing process. On average it was recorded that more than 130 people had been exonerated from death row after new evidence had proven their innocence. Although many people were proven innocent and therefore freed from death row, they had already served many decades in jail. And due to that, they lost everything; family, friends, careers and their life.

For every prisoner that is brutally executed, it costs $1,260,000. Last year alone there were twenty five prisoners executed which would total $30,500,000. Clearly this is a huge sum of money which could be of great benefit elsewhere. For example, it could be used to improve the education system or used to help cure diseases. Instead it was used to take away human lives. When comparing life in prison and the death penalty, unsurprisingly it is cheaper to sentence criminals to life in jail than it is to give them the death penalty. It would cost 740,000 dollars to sentence someone to life without parole. This is a difference of 520,000 dollars. This is money which could go back into the pockets of the conscientious, law abiding citizens of the country and might go towards helping other states that may be struggling. Sentencing criminals to a life in jail is definitely the preferred option as it undoubtedly saves money and also allows the perpetrator to consider the consequences of their horrific actions.

On the contrary, there are also many arguments as to why the death penalty should be permitted. Some people believe that the death penalty is the only way to ensure justice for victims and ensure that criminals can’t reoffend. Yet if the justice system relies on repeating the same behaviour that is being punished, namely killing someone, is this any better? When people are grieving, like in the situation of a loved one being murdered, they could become stuck in a state of anger and grief. Instead of focusing on what really matters, like keeping their memories alive and making sure that the criminal is brought to reasonable justice, they immediately turn to revenge and focus on avenging the life of their loved ones. There is a well known quote from a famous activist called Gandhi which states, ”an eye for an eye leaves the world blind”. This quote undoubtedly supports the the abolition of the death penalty as it testifies that by seeking out vengeance, you are no longer seeking justice you are seeking revenge. So, why the death penalty should be abolished?

To conclude, the death penalty is a violation of human rights due to the fact that every human being has a right to their life. The justice system, as well as the death penalty, contains many flaws and mistake that could cost people their life as well as also costing the country or states hundreds of thousands of dollar. The death penalty is an unnatural, atrocious, revengeful punishment that, in the 21st century, citizens from across the world should be coming together to abolish.   

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