Opposing The Death Penalty In The United States Argumentative Essay Examples
There are excellent arguments both for and against the death penalty in the United States; this is what makes it such a difficult topic to talk about and make a moral and ethical decision about. However, there are a number of reasons why the death penalty should be abolished in the United States that outweigh the reasons why proponents support the death penalty. Protection for the wrongly convicted, cost, and lack of deterrent effect are three of the most important reasons why the death penalty is not an effective method of punishment in the United States of America today.
Before discussing the importance of abolishing the death penalty, it is important to acknowledge that there are arguments that do favor the use of capital punishment. Proponents of the death penalty will point to the crowded prison systems and state that there are too many people in the American prison system, and that keeping people in prison for life is something that American society cannot afford. Proponents of the death penalty will often also state that there are certain crimes that are so wrong that it is fundamentally important that those who commit these types of crimes are put to death to deter other people from committing the same types of crimes. However, when examined closely, it appears that none of these arguments are particularly convincing, especially in light of the arguments against capital punishment.
One of the most important arguments against capital punishment is the argument that there is always doubt in the criminal justice system. Unless the crime was witnessed by a number of people and the perpetrator was caught red-handed, there is always doubt in convictions (American Civil Liberties Union). If all convictions were doubt-free, then projects like the Innocence Project—a nonprofit group of lawyers and investigators that work to overturn death penalty cases with poor evidence—would not be necessary in today’s society (American Civil Liberties Union). Even one unnecessary death sentence against an innocent person is too many to continue the practice of capital punishment; it is highly unethical to have state-sponsored murder of innocent people, even if some criminals are being killed by the same process (Deathpenalty.org).
Another commonly cited idea is that it costs a lot to keep someone in prison for their lifetime. This may be true, but it is much more expensive for the government to conduct a trial that has the potential for a capital punishment conviction (Oadp.org). This is because in capital punishment cases, the government must allow (and pay for) all appeals that the defendant brings before the courts; there is a very extensive legal process that is linked with the criminal justice system in capital punishment cases, and it is certainly not conducive to lowering the cost of the penal system for society (Deathpenalty.org). Cost is something that is very commonly claimed as a reason for supporting the death penalty; however, it is very important to note that it is much more expensive for the taxpayer and the government to conduct a trial that has the potential for a capital conviction (American Civil Liberties Union). Refusing to support life without parole is irresponsible from a fiscal perspective as well as a moral perspective; there are alternatives to capital punishment that do not involve a heavy financial or a heavy ethical burden on society.
The final reason commonly given for support of the death penalty is the deterrent effect of the death penalty. Deterrence does work in certain cases; it has been demonstrated that harsh punishments have a deterrent effect on petty crimes like theft and vandalism (Meehan). However, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the kind of person who would commit a crime that carries the death penalty would be deterred by the existence of the death penalty in society (Deathpenalty.org). It seems almost naïve to believe that an individual who believes that raping a child or killing multiple women is acceptable would be deterred by the death penalty. Although not many people fit the legal definition of insanity, many people have mental disorders that prevent them from thinking about things in a logical way; deterrence is something that does not exist when it comes to mental illness, because there is a lack of understanding of the link between actions and consequences in many cases.
There are many more reasons to oppose the death penalty than there are to support the death penalty. The death penalty is something that most of the countries in the western world have abolished because it is a medieval form of punishment, and one that society must begin to grow beyond. Today, American society is very torn between keeping and abolishing the death penalty; however, there are no reasons for keeping the death penalty that cannot be addressed when the death penalty is abolished, as well. To move forward as a society and as a culture, abolishing the death penalty is absolutely necessary.
American Civil Liberties Union,. 'The Case Against The Death Penalty'. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Deathpenalty.org,. 'Death Penalty Focus : 10 Reasons To Oppose The Death Penalty'. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Meehan, Mary. 'Ten Reasons To Oppose The Death Penalty'. America Magazine. N.p., 1982. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Oadp.org,. 'The Facts: 13 Reasons To Oppose The Death Penalty'. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.