Why the death penalty should be banned forever.
By Jeroen van de Ven, 12J1
The death penalty is an interesting punishment. In some parts of the world, it is still common to execute criminals, regardless of all the reasons not to. In the United States, one in every seven people who are sentenced to death, are later found to be innocent. Many of them have been released, but many other innocent people have without doubt been executed. In the twentieth century, twenty-three innocent people were executed in the U.S.A. alone. Is that worth it? Does death penalty make such a big difference, that innocent people should be sacrificed? I don’t think so.
A long time ago, criminals were hanged in public to scare people out of committing crimes. But now, people are not as scared of punishment as they used to be. If, for instance, you have become part of organized crime, you probably know you are risking your life already. Also, crimes have become far more complicated and it’s possible that innocent people get framed and are sentenced to death.
Some people still believe that killing people, who have been found guilty, helps to fight crime. But is this true? No, absolutely not. In fact, statistics prove the opposite. For example, in the years 1968-1991 in California, there were no executions. In the years 1952-1967, there were six executions per year, and the murder rate in this period was twice as high as in the period with no executions. In New York, from 1907 to 1964, every time there was an execution, the murder rate increased in the following months. This is not a coincidence.
Not only are innocent people sentenced to death, but many guilty criminals are not. In the United States, 20% of all people sentenced to death were convicted for killing a black person. 80% were found guilty of killing a white person. For every 15 people executed in the U.S. since 1976, 14 were black people who killed white people, and only 1 of them is a white person who killed a black person. As you can see, the death penalty is being used as a tool for racists to kill more black people, while white criminals who committed exactly the same crimes are not being executed.
Many people are against death penalty except for situations where it would be dangerous to others to let the person live. For example, imagine a serial killer who was proven to have killed 25 people. What if he/she were not sentenced to death, but imprisoned for life instead? There may be a slight chance that the killer would somehow escape from prison, but it isn't very likely. But imagine if after a few years new evidence is suddenly discovered proving that he/she was innocent. In that case, the person would be released and could continue to live what is left of his life.
So, why do we still allow executions? Many people say it is one hundred percent effective, the convict will surely never commit a crime again. But he or she will never have a second chance, a chance to improve and become a better person. Not all criminals that have been executed in the past deserved a second chance, but many did. If a person spends decades in prison after committing a crime such as murder, they can in fact change. If they were executed, he would never get that chance.
Also, death is the easy way out. If a criminal wants to permanently escape any punishment he or she might get, they could commit suicide. For example, Adolf Hitler, he killed himself to escape from being arrested, and it worked. Many people feel he has not been punished for what he did. But isn't death penalty the same thing? Usually, especially in the U.S, the convict doesn't suffer when he or she is executed, so is it really such a good punishment?
On the other hand, some people think execution is the easy way out for the state, too, because it's cheap and doesn't take as much time as life in prison. The fact is, they are wrong. Cases where the suspect was eventually executed cost between $1 million and $7 million, while cases resulting in life imprisonment cost around half a million dollars.
The problem is clear, there are just too many reasons to ban death penalty. Racism, innocent deaths, and what does it give us in return? Nothing. But what is the alternative? Obviously, if there is no death penalty, the worst possible punishment is life without parole. Actually, this is a more severe punishment. Nobody likes to die, but many people would rather die than go to prison for a very long time. When you are put in prison for the rest of your life, there is a much bigger chance you actually regret what you've done.
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