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The Death Penalty Is a Step Back: Persuasive Essay

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The straps tighten against you as you draw your final breath. There is blood to pay for the price of the crime, but this fictitious murderer has been wrongfully accused. You are painfully innocent. The pressure of all the people holding you down is suffocating. The needle is injected; this is not justice neither is it mercy. This is cruelty. The death penalty is not the way to give redemption to those of lost loved ones, this is because it is killing hundreds of people left and right, the innocent dying leaving their blood on our hands, and piling expenses; it needs to be abolished.

Crazy as it is, the death penalty has been around since the 1630s in the U.S. Various people state if it served justness all the way in that era, it must at this time and age too. It has never failed to do its role; that is true. It has never failed to kill hundreds of people. A report about the history of this questionable punishment system by the Constitutional Right Foundation promotes, “…the death penalty was imposed for many crimes, even minor ones such as picking pockets or stealing a loaf of bread. (“History of Death Penalty”)” This supports how extensive the executions were with the cry for blood over morality. Our foundation wasn’t even built on the principle of “an eye for an eye!” If this continues we may not be able to foresee our thirst for vengeance getting to us. The official Death Penalty Information Center stated, “1,526 men and women have been executed in the United States since the 1970s…(“Executions Overview”)” This is only accounting from the 1970s to today, the numbers are more massive than the accounts. Multitudinous have died that could’ve had the chance to live. If you ponder about it, when we kill a murderer through this system we are doing the same action that was trying to be prevented. As a matter of fact, laws are here to provide safety and control; but there is inconsequential safety in allowing your neighbor to legally kill someone. Not surprisingly, violence isn’t always the solution; most of the time it’s never the ethical or moral solution. An article by Pamela Paul takes insight on this issue opinionating :

The Harris polls also asked whether capital punishment is a deterrent to murder. Americans’ belief that the death penalty serves as a disincentive is waning – falling to 42 percent in July 2001, from 59 percent in 1976. Surprisingly, the diminishing belief that capital punishment serves as a deterrent to crime is not accompanied by decreasing support for the death penalty. In fact, between 1976 and 1997, belief in capital punishment as a deterrent fell 10 percentage points, while support for the death penalty rose 8 points (uncertainty fell as well, from 8 percent to 3 percent of respondents). This indicates that lowering the murder rate may not be Americans’ primary motive in supporting executions. (Paul 22)

Deterrent means to discourage someone or an event from taking place; the polls showed how many felt that the homicide penalty no longer served as a system with its original purpose. Despite all odds, the numbers are rising, executions with dates set in place, we need to abolish it before it is too late to save them and our morality.

Unfortunately, there is not only worry about the number of executions but also the people being executed as well. Notably, several have contended that we are not only delivering their justice but that it also consoles the victim’s loved ones. The act of retribution has been highly debated and a crippling statement has been made by Samuel Gross from DPIC with the uncomfortable news to those who believe that; he testifies, “There is no real doubt that we have an innocent person. If we could go to trial on this case if there was a forum where we could take this to trial, we would win hands down” (“Innocence”). This was stated after the execution of Larry Griffin, the executed man was killed for crimes he did not commit; only to be discovered when the deed had done its damage. Another story of the innocent being wronged is of Walter McMillian. This man was once again falsely accused of murder and almost went to the grave to meet his maker. The book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Byran Stevenson (DPIC “Books”), elaborates on this incident and the injustice that was served by those courts. Killing murderers is one step in the fallacious direction, but to still stand and permit innocent people to die after hearing about the wrongly accused is choosing to be ignorant. To highlight the innocents, the DPIC belabored after looking into multiple like those two scenarios :

It is now clear that innocent defendants will be convicted and sentenced to death with some regularity as long as the death penalty exists. It is unlikely that the appeals process—which is mainly focused on legal errors and not on factual determinations—will catch all the mistakes. Reforms have been begrudgingly implemented, increasing both the costs and the time that the death penalty consumes, but have not been sufficient to overcome human error. The popularity and use of capital punishment have rapidly declined as the innocence issue has gained attention. The remaining question is how many innocent lives are worth sacrificing to preserve this punishment. (“Innocence”)

That is the question. How long are we willing to let this continue until we add mercy to our laws? If this system hadn’t been here, innocent men and women could still be breathing. But now we have committed the crime.

Lastly, one of the major towering factors in abolishing the death penalty is the fact that hundreds of thousands of dollars are going down the drain for the accused. Too many people overlook this with a blind eye, struck with the thought of redemption. There is a simpler solution though, to this system that Feminism and Non-Violence have produced :

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…life imprisonment with no parole. Capital trials are longer and more expensive at every step than other murder trials. Pre-trial motions, expert witness investigations, jury selection, and the necessity for two trials–one on guilt and one on sentencing–make capital cases extremely costly, even before the appeals process begins. Guilty pleas are almost unheard of when the punishment is death. In addition, many of these trials result in a life sentence rather than the death penalty, so the state pays the cost of life imprisonment on top of the expensive trial. (Dieter 11)

If you could not follow along, lots of these cases have a complex system to determine the innocent and guilty. This still takes thousands of dollars which is unnecessary. An account recorded and studied by the DPIC announced :

In a series of articles analyzing Pennsylvania’s death penalty, the Reading Eagle found that taxpayers have spent over $350 million on the death penalty over a period in which the state has carried out just three executions, all of the inmates who dropped their appeals. (“Costs”)

Wrap your head around that! Three people totaled over 350 million dollars! In New York, they did a study on the cities with the death penalty and cities without it in the state, and see what the FNSA published :

Significantly, no city in New York State, without the death penalty is among the nation's top twenty-five cities in homicide rates. This is based on the statistics recently released by the FBI. In particular, New York City bucked the national trend and experienced a decline in every major category of crime in 1991. In the first four months of 1992, crime was again down across the board in New York, compared to the same period two years previous, with murders decreasing by over U percent. While direct causes for a decrease in crime are difficult to pinpoint, many experts have attributed New York's success to an increasingly popular concept known as community policing. In 1990, New York had 750-foot officers on the street. In 1992, that number was 3,000. Community policing is a strategy for utilizing police officers not just as people who react to crime, but also as people who solve problems by becoming an integral part of the neighborhoods they serve. (Dieter 11)

As a solution to this extensive and expensive crisis, more security was enforced compared to endless executions. As we see in NY when we guide our efforts into securing the city through more police force, we can see significantly lower crime rates.

Wrapping all of this up, DPIC in its Gallup surveys discovered, “Record-Low Percentage of Americans Now Find Death Penalty Morally Acceptable” (“Public Opinion”), people are starting to realize that the death penalty is wrong. If they are starting to see veracity then you can as well. If there is anything that I yearn that you do not forget all of the people fighting for their lives. An inmate shares his divulgence while being on death row as an innocent :

I miss the stars. You know, I haven’t seen the stars in years and years and years. I miss the rain. I miss food. I miss all these things. But what it comes down to the most — and this is the thing that will scar me the most and that I’ll car­ry with me as a scar the longest — the thing I miss the most is being treat­ed like a human being. (DPIC “Conditions on the Death Row”)

I can’t express or force you to see the death penalty as I do. All I can urge is that we limit our deaths, those convicted, and expenses by getting rid of this system. I aspire that we all can show mercy and stay true to our humanity.

Works Cited

  1. CRF. “History of Death Penalty in America.” Constitutional Right Foundation. CRF, 2012.
  2. 30 Sept. 2020. Web.
  3. Dieter, Richard C. “What politicians don’t say about the high costs of the death penalty.”
  4. Studies in Prolife Feminism, vol. 1, no. 1, Winter 1995, p. 11+. Gale General OneFile. Accessed 30 Sept. 2020. Print.
  5. DPIC. “Death Penalty Information Center.” Death Penalty Information Center. DPIC, 15 Sept. 2020. 30 Sept. 2020. Web.
  6. Paul, Pamela. “The Death Penalty.” American Demographics, 1 Nov. 2001, p. 22. Gale General
  7. OneFile. Accessed 24 Sept. 2020. Print.
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