by Rebecca Wiemann
Growing up in a family full of homicide detectives leads to some interesting stories at holidays. My great grandma had sixteen kids, and out of those sixteen, ten of them were boys. Out of those ten boys, eight of them are now homicide detectives in the state of Missouri. Being brothers, they don’t usually agree on much, but one thing they can agree on is their opinion of capital punishment. They’ve seen what life is like inside of prisons. They believe, and I agree, that sentencing someone to the death penalty is giving them the easy way out. The criminal doesn’t have to deal with life in prison and some of the unspeakable things that happen in there. Many studies even say that the threat of the death penalty doesn’t deter criminals at all. .” (Durlauf, Fu, Navarro 103) Since it’s usually the really horrible criminals that get the death penalty, it seems like we’re cutting our nation’s horrible criminals some slack.
Every American knows that they have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This act of capital punishment is actually a direct contradiction of our rights as American citizens. Many people may say that the criminals to commit such horrible crimes, but as bad of people as they are, they’re still Americans, and they still have rights. Perhaps the people who would normally get the death penalty should instead receive a life in the solitary confinement corridor of the prison. Solitary confinement can actually be a form of physical and mental torture, which in my opinion, is much worse than death. Inmates in solitary confinement have no contact with the outside world. The only communication they have with another human being is when they are given food through a little slot in their door from one of the officers in the prison.
Another thing is that it seems to me that the judge and jury are playing God. Who are they to say when and where a person’s life will end? That is not their place. A person’s life should be the one thing is this world that no one can take from them. They can lose their house, car, husband, wife, kids, friends, money, but the one thing that can actually be called their own can be taken away by the vote of some people who were randomly assigned to a jury. It’s widely known that we consider ourselves more civil than most Middle Eastern countries, but in 2008 Uzbekistan became the ninety-second country to abolish the death penalty for all criminal offenses (Hood and Hoyle 1). America prides itself in being fair and just, but that is far from the truth. There is nothing about capital punishment that is fair or just. I believe that a person has a right to their life and they can do with it what they want, without worry about others’ opinions. The death penalty takes away that right.
There are so many things that can go wrong in a court of law. Evidence can be misconstrued, people can lie on the stand, and lawyers can twist words. With all these possible things that can happen, why is it considered right to put someone’s life at stake? Especially when there are so many things that can go wrong. “Critics and opponents of the death penalty are warning that capital trials and sentencing hearings are so riddled with flaws that they risk resulting in the execution of innocent persons” (Jost, Death Penalty Controversies par. 1) There are plenty of instances when innocent people have been sentenced to death and we were only to find out about their innocence after they had been killed. To avoid such injustice, the easiest and most obvious answer is to make capital punishment illegal. Sure, it helps keep our prisons clear and stops them from overflowing, but there’s an easy alternative to that as well. Many less intense crimes, such as breaking and entering, can lead to jail time. If these less intense crimes could possibly have different consequences, there would be much more room for the criminals who have actually committed horrible crimes.
We tell the youth of America not to kill; yet we go around killing every day. Killing someone because they killed someone else is the equivalent to a kid punching another kid just because another kid punched him. It doesn’t solve the problem, it just creates another one. How can we teach our children a lesson, when we don’t even follow that lesson ourselves? It’s called practicing what you preach, and I think America should try it. The death penalty has not proven to deter crime at all, despite what many people believe. So, since it hasn’t proven to deter crime at all, what is the point of having it? It is not helping at all, and it is not doing any good.
The right to life is not just a life for Americans. The right to live a life is a universal right that should be granted to every human being on this planet. Who do we think we are taking someone’s life? Who gave us the right to decide if someone lives or dies? These are the kind of questions that we should be asking ourselves more often. It seems that people are enjoying playing God, deciding if someone should live or die. Yes, they did commit a horrid crime, and yes they deserve to be punished, but they are still a human being and human beings have the right to life. Besides, life in a dirty prison with no real luxuries or freedom would be seen by some as a worse punishment than death. Death is the easy way out.
Durlauf, Steven, Chao Fu, and Salvador Navarro. “Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Understanding Disparate Results.” . Springer Science and Business Media, LLC, 21 Feb 2012. Web.
Hood, Roger, and Hoyle, Carolyn. “Abolishing the Death Penalty Worldwide: The
Impact of a “New Dynamic”.” . The University of Chicago Press, 2009. Web
Jost, Kenneth. “Death Penalty Controversies.” . CQ Researcher, 23 Sep 2005. Web.