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The Death Penalty: Why It Doesn’t Work, and Why It Should End

Dola Tibbs


The death penalty should end, and not necessarily because it is morally wrong, (in my personal belief, if you are a serial killer and child rapist, you don’t deserve to live) but because it simply does not work. Arguments in defense of the death penalty state that it encourages people to not commit a crime, but evidence shows otherwise. Also, the death penalty unfairly affects people of color. Additionally, many people on death row are innocent, and many of these people have been executed.

Many people in support of the death penalty believe that it deters murder and sex crimes, but studies show that a life sentence in prison discourages crime just as much as a death sentence. States who do not have the death penalty often have lower murder rates than states that do, according to deathpenaltycurriculum.org. Additionally, people who commit serious crimes like homicide and rape don’t think that they will get caught, or else, in most cases, they wouldn’t do it. Why doesn’t the government just sentence life without parole, so the criminals do not endanger society, instead of risking the possibility that they might be innocent?

Racism plays a big role in the death penalty. Black and white people are equally likely to be murder victims. White victims account for about half of all murder victims, yet 80% of death row cases include white murder victims. Since October of 2002, only 12 white men have been executed for killing a black man, whereas 178 black men have been executed for killing white victims. The chance of getting a death sentence is increased three and a half times if the victim is white instead of black. This, and a study at the University of Maryland, shows that black people are more likely to get executed for the same crimes that white people commit.

About 4% of people on death row are innocent. While this might seem like a small number, there are 2,620 people on death row, 4% of 2,620 is 105. This means that 105 people on death row are innocent, but waiting for execution. This also does not account for people on death row who’s crimes should not constitute execution, so, as shown in the paragraph above, this means that black people are more likely to be put on death row for a crime that does not deserve death.

Another issue about the death penalty that should be brought up; method of execution. Sates still authorize executions by electric chair, gas chamber, hanging, and firing squad. It does not take a saint to realize that these methods are very cruel. For reference, the gas chamber was used by Nazis to kill Jews in concentration camps. If the government is going to use execution as a form of punishment, it should exclusively use non-cruel forms, such as lethal injection.

The death penalty as a form of capital punishment should be ended. There is no reason to keep using the death penalty, as it does not discourage crime. Evidence shows that many judges who make the decisions on who gets a death sentence are racist, which influences the decisions, which is not fair. 105 out of the 2,620 people on death row are innocent, which is too high of a rate when it comes to death. Finally, the government still uses cruel ways to execute, which needs to stop. Trump has always supported the death penalty, whereas Joe Biden has come out in opposition to capital punishment. Here is a petition you can sign to help end the death penalty: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-congress-abolish-the-federal-death-penalty/

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