Why Should We Not Have the Death Penalty

When it comes to the death penalty, people's opinions are divided and there's much room for debate. Each year, statistics show that at least 1,500 to 2,500 people are executed worldwide for crimes they've been convicted of. There are many different types of executions worldwide, depending on which country or state they are executed in. The most popular methods that prisoners are killed by include lethal injection, firing squad, electrocution (electric chair), beheadings, and stonings. Contrary to the belief that the U.S. accounts for most executions, majority of them take place in China, where the total population exceeds 1 billion people. China doesn't disclose their death penalty statistics, and groups such as Amnesty International have speculated that the number of people sentenced to death there each year can be as high as 8,000. In the United States, between 35 and 100 people are put to death every year. While this may not seem like a lot, it's a significant number if you compare USA's population to China's. When adjusted for population, the percentage is a little shocking. India, for example, has 3 times the population of the United States, yet the amount of people they've executed since 1975 is almost equivalent to the amount the U.S. executes every year. But many Americans seem to be divided on their opinions when it comes to capital punishment, and majority of citizens in other countries around the world disagree with the use of the death penalty in America. There are far more countries where capital punishment has been abolished, than where it still exists. But why exactly do some people feel that it's wrong? There's a number of reasons, and just like anything, there are pros and cons when it comes to the death penalty. The real question is whether or not the pros outweigh the cons, and after careful research, I'm certain they don't.

Innocent People
Perhaps one of the most powerful arguments against capital punishment is the fact that many innocent people have been released from death row over the years. Since 1973, there were 138 death row exonerations in the United States. That's 138 innocent people who were mistakenly sentenced to death in a U.S. court room, and later had their convictions overturned due to further research in light of new evidence. Now many people may argue that this is probably only because of the emergence of DNA testing in the 1990's, which helped discovered errors that weren't previously visible. However, DNA testing and reviews of death row cases was conducted in the late 90's, but there were 11 people proved to be innocent on death row in 2009 (A list of exonerated death prisoners with other related information can be found on Wikipedia). So this argument is without merit, and the facts speak for themselves. In 2009, there were 50 executions in the U.S. and the system caught 11 mistakes. That means that over 22% of people who are executed, are probably innocent, since 22% of 50 equals 11. That means 22 innocent people have to die, for every 78 guilty ones. This means that the death penalty itself and the U.S. Justice System is responsible for killing more innocent people each year than any serial killers they put behind bars. While those 11 people may have been discovered, imagine how many innocent people weren't and were put to death while protesting their innocence.

Life in prison is not fun and can be hell for majority of those people who live there. Imagine having your freedom stripped from you, and being stuck in a cell, unable to leave or do what you want. Despite the fact that many inmates may have televisions, radios, and other minor comforts, it doesn't make prison into a hotel or spa. It doesn't change the fact that they still have to wake up and go to sleep according to someone else's schedule, eat disgusting food everyday and in many cases, deal with the violence that is often associated with prison life. It's better that they have years and years to suffer and think about what they did, instead of being executed only to escape the suffering. It also allows those who are innocent, to appeal and work on proving their innocence from behind the bars. With the death penalty in place, those people have no chance at proving they are innocent or waiting for new evidence to be discovered. Even though it may cost more to keep people alive, morality usually comes at a price and it's a small price to pay to ensure that innocent people are not being killed. Getting rid of the death penalty would not be about protecting guilty people and allowing them to live, it's about the innocent people who fall between the cracks every year. If it can happen to them, it could happen to anyone.

It's obvious to anybody who's compared murder rate statistics to death penalty statistics that capital punishment does not reduce crime. Most of the U.S. states that have the highest murder rates, also have the death penalty. The states with the lowest murder rates are usually ones which do not have capital punishment. The same goes for many countries as well. The reason why it doesn't act as a deterrant, is because people who kill others never think that they will get caught, and those who realize they will, are crazy and aren't afraid of the consequences. Your average murderer isn't going to think "Wait a minute, am I going to get life in prison or will I be put to death if I kill this person?". That thought never even crosses their minds. All the countries like Thailand and Singapore that allow the death penalty for drug trafficking, still have major problems with people trafficking drugs and drug abuse has not declined in these countries. So anybody who tries to debate it and thinks that executing those who are guilty will result in widespread fear and a decline in crime rates, has obviously never looked at the actual statistics involved.

Setting an Example
91% of executions occur in China, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and the United States. When you think of the countries that are harshest and most restrictive on their citizens (hardliner countries), some of those that probably come to mind are the same ones who make up most of that list. Citizens of the U.S. often point their finger at the cultures of those other countries and call them barbaric. But if the U.S. wants to point the finger, they need to practice what they preach and set a good example. If they ever accused China of being barbaric for how many people they execute every year, China could simply point right back at the U.S. and point out how many people the U.S. executes. USA is the leading superpower and leading first world country, so they should be setting an example for the rest of the world in everything they do.

Let's be honest about the fact that there are racist people in this world which can be found in every race and every nationality or ethnic group. Sometimes people's emotions towards a certain race can cause them to have an error in judgment and can create a bias atmosphere. In America, minorities are obviously called minorities because they make up a minor part of the population. Blacks (African Americans), who are the largest minority group, only account for about 13% of the population. So the odds of a jury being mostly white or all-white is much more likely than a jury being comprised of other races. Because of this, the odds of an innocent person being found guilty based on the color of their skin is much more likely than if the population had an even share of every color. There's a difference between "pulling the race card" and acknowledging that discrimination can occur and does occur. It's impossible for the court systems to screen people to determine if they are racist or not, and not everybody out there who is summoned for jury duty is happy to be there. So many people will be wanting to end the case as quickly as possible, and may let their views on another race cloud their better judgment. This can lead to serious mistakes and it's just another reason why capital punishment should not be allowed.

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