Why the Death Penalty Should Be Abolished


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As federal executions have been resumed by the Trump Administration, many wonder whether the death penalty is just.

The death penalty is a government-sanctioned practice whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for their crime. The death penalty has raised much controversy throughout America. Many believe it is unconstitutional and violates the most fundamental human right: the right to life. It is used against the most vulnerable in society, including the lower class, ethnic and religious minorities, and people with mental disabilities. Most importantly, it is a huge problem when there are innocent people being imprisoned and are currently on death row.

When European settlers came to the new world, they bought the practice of capital punishment. In 1608 in Virginia, Moral and Martial Laws provided the death penalty for minor offenses such as stealing grapes, killing chickens, and trading with Indians. In 1665 in New York, Duke’s Law provided the penalty for such offenses as striking one’s mother/father or denying “true God.” Punishments included crucifixion, drowning, beating, burning, and impalement.

Today, capital punishment is legal under the U.S. federal government’s criminal justice system. One can be put to death for treason, murder, large-scale drug trafficking, etc. In 2010, a death-row inmate waited an average of roughly 15 years between sentencing and execution. Nearly a quarter of inmates die of natural causes while awaiting their execution. In 1924, Texas established the tradition of customized last meals. 

A study published in Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Science determined that at least 4% of people on death row were and are likely innocent. On Dec. 10, Brandon Bernard was executed using lethal injection, and America is enraged. Sister Helen Prejean, an anti-death penalty advocate, spoke with Bernard the day before he died. He told her about how he is grateful for everything in his life. Prejean stated, “He died with dignity and love, in spite of the cruel, unjust system that condemned him to die as a result of egregious prosecutorial misconduct.” 

After 17 years without federal execution, the Trump Administration has executed nine inmates since July. Biden pledged to eliminate the death penalty, and Bernie Sanders tweeted, “In a world of incredible violence, the state should not be involved in premediated murder.”

Joseph Dolce, a junior, commented, “I believe that the death penalty is disgustingly inhumane and should be the last resort of any situation. The death penalty is a regression of American society, and it is pure malfeasance by the government. It should be abolished.”

People stand by these families and those still on death row. The death penalty is inhumane and needs to be abolished. We should let those who committed unforgivable crimes remain in prison for many years and release the innocent who have no evidence against them. We do not have to resort to such violent actions, and those in power should do this country a favor and get rid of the death penalty.