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Capital Punishment to Be Abolished

Capital punishment is one of the most controversial topics among Americans today. Since every person has their own opinion on this topic, either for or against, the question always raised is “Is it morally right.” The number of problems with the death penalty is enormous, ranging from innocence to racism, and these problems will never be resolved unless the death penalty is abolished. Capital Punishment also referred to as the death penalty, is the foolishly ordered execution of a prisoner as a punishment for a serious crime, often called a ”capital offense” or a ”capital crime”. Some authorities that practice capital punishment limits its use to a small number of criminal offenses, mainly treason and murder (Stem 49). Prisoners who have been sentenced to death are usually kept set aside from other prisoners in a special part of the prison until their execution. In some places, this segregated area is known as “Death Row.”

Historically and still today, under certain systems of law, the death penalty was applied to a wider range of crimes, including robbery or theft (Stem 50). It has also been frequently used by the military for crimes including looting, disobedience, and uprising (Stem 52). This way of punishment has long passed its expiration date and needs an immediate change. Like we say in America “in with the new, and out with the old.” This punishment has only one purpose; to terrorize not only the criminal but the family and friends as well. There are many negative impacts on this controversial subject, but the main one is that innocent people will be executed instead of the real criminal. Thus, the criminal is still alive and the family has to go through misery finding out that their loved one is innocent. Even before finding out this the time leading to the execution and during the execution can build up so much stress, often resulting in strokes or heart attacks. Also, it must be remembered that criminals are real people too that have feelings just like the rest of the innocent people. Capital punishment needs to go and preferably fast.

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The first issue that should be observed is that of innocence. Are there really innocent people on death row? At least twenty-three people have been executed who did not commit the crime they were accused of (Kuttner 21). And that’s only those that we know. And here lies a natural danger of capital punishment…when we execute an innocent person; the real killer is still on the streets, ready to victimize someone else. But when an innocent person is arrested, he is often the motivating reason behind the further investigation, and if he is executed, then the case remains closed forever or until someone else gets killed by the real perpetrator. Often the only people who know what really happened are the accused and the dead. It then comes down to the skill of the examination and the defense lawyers as to whether there will be a conviction for accidental murder or for manslaughter. At times, a detective could naturally make an error and possibly lead to the conclusion that the innocent committed the crime.

Whether it be multiple years in prison or even capital punishment there is no possible way of revenging or forgiving the judge and jury for this miscarriage of justice. There must always be the concern that the state can order the death penalty justly. In America, a prisoner can be on death row for many years awaiting the outcome of numerous appeals (Wall 37). In simpler terms killing another being with or without evidence isn’t fair, decent, or ethically correct. The second reason against this inhumane punishment that is often overlooked, is the hell the innocent family and friends of criminals must also go through in the time leading up to and during the execution and which will often cause them serious trauma for years afterward. It was reported by Brad Thomas, a top adviser on capital punishment, told the St. Petersburg Times “…more than 9 out of 16 families go through some sort of serious trauma shortly after execution is taken.” (Sherrill 13)

It is often very difficult for people to come to terms with the fact that their loved one could be guilty of a serious crime and no doubt even more difficult to come to terms with their death in this form. However, for those who may strongly support capital punishment, two wrongs do not make one right. How does making the family of the criminal suffer and go through torment make up for the loss of the victim’s family? One cannot and should not disagree with the suffering of the victim’s family in a murder case but the suffering of the murderer’s family is equally valid. Wrapping up it all together, killing a guilty or innocent human being no only causes pain for the accused, but for the friends and family as well.

The third reason why capital punishment is not acceptable is that it must be remembered that criminals are real people too who have life and with it the gift to feel pain, fear, and the loss of their loved ones, and all the other emotions that the rest of us are capable of feeling. It is easier to put this thought on one side when discussing the most awful multiple murderers but less so when discussing, say, an 18-year-old girl convicted of drug abuse. In Singapore, the government hung two girls for this crime in 1995 who were both only 18 at the time of their offenses (Greene 18). Also, China follows Singapore in a different form of punishment by shooting an 18-year-old girl in the head for the same offense in 1998 (Willing 21). In the case of the worst criminals, this may be acceptable but is more questionable in the case of less awful crimes.

In conclusion, capital punishment should no longer be present in American society as well as the rest of the countries participating in this offense. There is no such thing as a humane method of putting a person to death despite what the State may claim. Every form of execution causes the prisoner suffering, some methods perhaps cause less than others but be in no doubt that being executed is a terrifying and dreadful ordeal for the criminal. What is also often overlooked is the extreme mental torture that the criminal suffers in the time leading up to the execution. Any punishment must be fair, just, sufficient and most of all, enforceable. Society still views murder as a particularly immoral crime that should justify the most severe punishment. Whole life imprisonment could fit the bill for the worst murders with appropriate stages for less awful murders. Imprisonment, while expensive and largely pointless, except as means of removing criminals from society for a given period, is at least enforceable upon anyone who commits murder.

However, it appears to many people to be a soft option and this view needs to be corrected. Sentences of imprisonment when passed need to involve a sensible rule combining both punishment and treatment to help the murder realize what he or even she did to another family. Not only realize this but also if there is any disturbance in their body such as a mental condition. Capital punishment is a power that no man or woman deserves to make for another human being. The Constitution clearly states that everybody deserves, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;” but if you kill that person how can any of this be attained? Capital punishment is just plain wrong and has no place in today’s society. There are too many flaws in the death penalty; therefore the only reasonable solution is to abolish the death penalty.

Works Cited

  • Greene, Elizabeth “Capitalizing on Seeds of Doubt.” 22 March 2001:1
  • Kuttner, Robert “Life After Death” 18 July 2004: 19-23
  • Sherrill, Robert “Death Trip.” The Nation 8 January 2001:13
  • Stem, Seth “Can You Build a Foolproof Death Penalty?” 5 November 2003: 48-52
  • Wall, James M. “Lesson in Loss.” The Christian Century 4 July 2001:37
  • Willing, Richard “Even for Death Penalty foes, McVeigh is the exception.”
  • USA Today 4 May 2001: 18-23

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Capital Punishment to Be Abolished. (2021, Mar 23). Retrieved July 17, 2021, from