Capitol Punishment Currently, the United States is the only western democracy that still has capital punishment on the books. Even South Africa has eliminated it. The United States is left with such company as Libya, Iran, and Iraq. America, where freedom and democracy are firmly entrenched, remains committed to this brutal and dehumanizing form of punishment. The goal of the death penalty is revenge.
It is not a deterrence of crime, as the death penalty has been proven not to deter crime. Capital punishment is nothing more than an outlet for the bloodlust of the American people. Capital punishment is unjust, and it is not an effective deterrent of crime. Does the government have the right to kill? A policeman defending the safety of the public by firing on an armed and dangerous criminal might have that right. Suppose we apply the same standards to the government that we have for civilians. A civilian at home can legally shoot at an intruder, but if the civilian catches the intruder, incapacitates him, and then shoots him that act would be considered murder. That is what capital punishment is–murder.
Also, capital punishment is an unjust punishment. Currently, the death penalty is divided along racial lines. In Georgia, a person accused of killing a white person was 4.3 times more likely to be sentenced to death than a person accused of killing a black person (Hood 25). Arkansas, Illinois, North Carolina, and Mississippi showed similar statistics. Also, each year, only two percent of death sentences are given to women. Since 1608, three percent of the 19,000 confirmed executions in the United States were women (Hood 37). Finally, the death penalty does not deter crime.
Proponents for the death penalty argue that the death penalty deters violent crimes. Statistics show the opposite. The United States is the only Western nation that still allows the death penalty, and it still has one of the highest crime rates. In the 1980’s, the death penalty states averaged an annual rate of 7.5 criminal homicides per 100,000 crimes while abolition states averaged a rate of 7.4 criminal homicides per 100,000 crimes (Greenberg 25). Murder was more common in states with the death penalty. In a nationwide survey of police chiefs and sheriffs, capital punishment was ranked last as a way of reducing crime (Greenberg 26).
Also, the theory behind the deterrence doctrine is flawed itself. Murderers do not examine risk charts before they kill. Being criminal is inherently irrational. Life imprisonment ought to deter a rational person. No criminal commits a crime thinking that he will be caught. The death penalty is wrong, unfair, and is proven not to deter crime. Coretta Scott King spoke out against the death penalty saying that: As one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the victims of murder assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses.
An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the tacking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder (Amnesty 6). Bibliography Amnesty International Report. The Death Penalty. England: Amnesty International Publications, 1979.
Greenberg, Jack. Taking Sides. Boston: The Dushkin Publishing Group, March 1995. Hood, Roger. The Death Penalty: A World Wide Perspective. Oxford: Clarendon Press, May 1989.