Death Penalty is Cruel and Unusual Punishment

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I am strongly opposed to the death penalty for many reasons.

First and foremost it is simply a barbaric, archaic and Draconian method of punishment. It is the ultimate removal of the universal right to life. It is murder, pure and simple.

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Secondly, it is a system of justice based on the law of retribution (vengeance by any other name). It is a seemingly equivalent punishment for a particularly brutal crime. However, if there was ever a true sentence spoken, it is this: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. Vengeance and violence are cyclical. Violence and vengeance are self-fulfilling “eternal returns”. If society deals with its transgressors in a barbaric fashion, then how can you then expect society to behave in return for that “favour”?

It is society’s knee-jerk animalistic and instinctual need to correct an imbalance. However, the death penalty does not correct the imbalance. It merely replaces the imbalance with another equal and opposite imbalance. It’s a see-saw effect. Read Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus if you want to see what happens when barbarism is used as a form of justice. The Vengeance Never Ends.

Thirdly, there is always present the danger of execution of the innocent. No amount of rhetoric is ever going to justify this kind of atrocity.

Fourthly, most studies show that it doesn’t even act as a deterrent. If anything, violent crime is higher in places where the death penalty is in use which consolidates precisely what I’ve said above.

Understanding will always be preferrable to villification. Compassion will always be preferrable to hatred. Forgiveness will always be preferrable to condemnation. Reason will always be preferrable to the senseless and unnecessary act that is societally approved murder.

No matter which way you try to paint it. It simply isn’t RIGHT.

I don’t believe in the death penalty (or life without parole, which for many is a death sentence). It is simply wrong to take a life in any circumstances. Furthermore, the justice system is so flawed that many of those executed were innocent.

Although I am not an American student I am currently studying Law at A Level in England and the death penalty, especially in America, has always been a particular interest of mine.

I believe that the death penalty should be abolished in all cases, countries and for any crime. I currently write to a prisoner on death row in America and from what I’ve learnt from writing to them and from organizations that oppose the death penalty is appalling. For example in Alabama a judge can choose to overturn the jury’s decision and give someone the death penalty. Who gives one person the right to decide whether someone should be killed or not?

The conditions in the prisons are also awful. The cells are absolutely tiny, the prisoners get very little chance to socialise and sometimes they may only be able to get outside their cell for an hour or so. Can you imagine living in these conditions?

I also believe that many of the people who end up on death row have had awful childhoods or experiences which may affect their judgement or knowing right from wrong. Surely these people deserve a second chance? There have been examples of studies in England where prisoners have been given jobs or rehabilitation and the reoffending rate has reduced dramatically. Besides it costs millions more for American taxpayers to have someone killed by the death penalty than to put them on life. Couldn’t this money be better spent?

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