Abolish the Death Penalty


Madison Murrow, contributor

The death penalty demonstrates blatant hypocrisy within our constitution. Murder is illegal, yet when the government premeditates it and has a ceremony for executing one of its citizens it is acceptable? I don’t think the people sentenced to death for committing extreme crimes deserve another chance, but why not just let them rot for the rest of their lives in prison? It costs much less and it eliminates the chance of killing an innocent person. An article from aclu.org states, “Nationally, at least one person is exonerated for every 10 that are executed.” With that statistic, the chance that innocent people have been executed is almost certain. It is also ranked the lowest to deter violent crimes, serving no public safety benefits. The death penalty has also historically been applied in an unfair manner, commonly depending on the skill of the attorney, the wealth of the defendant, and their race. People of color are more likely to be sentenced to death.  

It’s a common misconception that simply executing a prisoner is cheaper than them living out the rest of their lives in prison. In reality, it is significantly more expensive to go through with executions. Grant Robinson from 10 News states, “The analysis found that the average cost of capital trial cost almost 50 percent more than both trials with life without parole and life with the possibility of parole.” Why waste tax payer’s money on unnecessary executions when that money could be reallocated to other parts of the community that actually do benefit public safety and the citizens that the taxes come from? 

Along with the death penalty being ineffective in evoking positive change within communities, it is also cruel and unusual punishment contradicting the constitution. It dates back centuries when other inhumane punishments were common practice, yet it is the only one that is still in use in our justice system. Somehow, we have progressed past the other cruel punishments but decided executions are still acceptable, although they have no place in any civilized society. Adding to that, the United States is the only western industrialized country that still practices executions.  

The death penalty is a permanent punishment. While laws are constantly changing and the chance of new evidence is almost always a possibility, it is irreversible to those who are killed on death row that has no chance to benefit from new laws or evidence that could warrant a change in the conviction. The right to life for living people should never be taken away, but the right to freedom is what should be on the table when dealing with major crimes. The government should not have the right to kill its citizens when there are virtually no benefits. Some might argue that the elimination of the perpetrator of a crime might bring closure to the affected family. I think that knowing they will rot for the rest of their life and have to live with their decisions is far better closure than knowing they get an easy way out.  

The death penalty has no place in our justice system and our government should have progressed past executions decades ago. It is an unfair abuse of power that wastes resources and time. It contradicts the constitution and gives the government too much power when dealing with human lives.