One in twenty-five people who are put to death in the United States are later found to be innocent. That may seem like a small amount, but if 100,000 people were sentenced to death, over 4,000 of those people would actually be innocent. It seems that “guilty with unreasonable doubt” doesn’t really mean what it used to.
The fact of the matter is that the death penalty should not exist anywhere in the world. I understand why people would support the death penalty; they want the convicted individual to be severely punished for what they did, thus death seems like the worst punishment for anyone. However, there is one more punishment that is worse than death: a life-sentence without the possibility of parole. This is even worse than being put to death. Criminals have to live their entire life trapped in a prison… I don’t know about you, but that seems like a much crueler, horrible alternative to escaping punishment through death.
The death penalty is morally wrong. By putting a murderer to death, the system is just a bunch of hypocrites; they’re killing another human being, just as the murder had done. Most countries don’t have capital punishment anyway. The United States stands with only Iraq, Iran, and China as the major advocates and users of the death penalty. Capital punishment even goes against almost every religion, claiming that it is immoral.
Another reason to ban the death penalty? Statistics show that individuals who murder whites are more likely to receive the death penalty than those who murder African Americans. That’s right, even the death penalty is racist. In Philadelphia, for example, a person is four times more likely to be sentenced to death if they are an African American. Why should America support something that is clearly discriminatory towards a particular race?
Although we should get rid of capital punishment because it’s racist towards African Americans, America should also want to ban it because it costs a humongous amount of money. Numerous studies found that in Washington, prosecuting a case where the death penalty is sought costs about one million more dollars than cases that do not. California has spent an estimated four billion dollars on capital punishment since 1978.
Instead of wasting money on the highly controversial death penalty, we could use the same funds to support programs that address factors that cause violence and crime. Communities can be greatly improved by redirecting this money to programs for early childhood education, increasing high school graduation rates, gang prevention, mental health services, and drug and alcohol treatment services. Spending money on programs like this greatly improves society, and it actually saves lives.
This money could also be used for the support of the victims and their families. Many times, nothing is done for those who were affected by a criminal. Funds could go towards things such as grief counseling, funeral costs, school tuition scholarships or grants for children of murdered parents, paid leave from work to attend court proceedings, emergency funds, and medical treatment.
What about the people who actually execute those on death row? These people often feel guilt and responsibility for having the blood of another human being on their hands. A former warden from Florida remarks how “many colleagues turned to drugs and alcohol” because they killed someone on death row, and some even committed suicide. Would you want to be the one to flip the switch that ends a human life?
Once you take someone’s life, you can’t take it back. You can’t humanize and desensitize death. Capital punishment only does more harm than it does good, and no country in the world should continue to execute human beings.