Say No to Capital Punishment

Since 1976, 1,292 people have been executed in the United States. Want to know who’s ahead of us? Nations like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt have far outpaced our rate of execution in the past several decades. The very fact that these are the countries that can outpace us in execution speaks volumes. The death penalty, and every argument for it, is crushed by logic. Does it deter crime? No. Is everyone who is executed guilty? No. Does it cost more to incarcerate someone for life than it does to execute them? No. There was a time and place for capital punishment: Back in the days when maximum security prisons didn’t exist, and prisoners regularly escaped.  Now, though, with maximum security prisons in every American state, we no longer need this antiquated and unjustifiable mean of punishment.

The solution to this problem is simple: A federal constitutional amendment that bans the death penalty. Every study done on deterrence has found that states with the death penalty have higher murder rates than states without the death penalty. Cases in which the death penalty is pursued can cost millions of dollars, and in some cases, they can cost 3 times the amount of a case in which life-imprisonment is pursued. Furthermore, the cost of keeping a criminal in prison for his or her entire life is less than cost of executing that person. So why, I ask, do we continue to support this “penalty” that costs more than life without parole and does nothing in terms of deterrence? Quite frankly, I’m at a loss. People can beat their heads against a wall for years and it’s still not going to move. The facts are the facts; no one can change that. Removing political bias, the death penalty is a complete failure. It costs too much, doesn’t deter crime, and kills innocent people. Don’t believe me? What about Cameron Todd Willingham? Or Troy Davis? Or Robert Waterhouse? These men, and countless others, were most likely innocent when they were executed. This should anger people. Instead, one GOP primary voter who was asked about Rick Perry’s execution record, and specifically the execution of Mr. Willingham, claimed that it “takes balls to execute an innocent man”. The resounding applause that Perry received at a September 2011 Presidential debate after being asked about his execution record cemented in my mind the backwardness of some people in this nation. There are innocent men and women being executed by a law that costs more than life in prison and doesn’t deter crime. How can you applaud that?

The death penalty is too expensive, fails at its job, and kills innocent people. If a law that is meant to deter crime cannot do its job, why is it still a law? That question perplexes me, and I fear that it applies to more laws than just this one. Hopefully, America will eventually understand why much of the world has rejected this form of punishment. I have no problem convicting someone to life without the chance of parole. That, to me, is the best way to severely punish violent criminals. Killing them doesn’t help anyone…so why do we do it?