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Ineffective, Inhumane, and Immoral
&doiIn the twenty-first century, the death penalty takes away a part of our humanity. The desire to murder is immoral on various levels. The notion of killing someone, other than under the circumstances of war or self-defense, is fundamentally erroneous. The death penalty should be abolished as it is not effective or humane.
Foremost, the supposed deterrence effect of capital punishment on future crimes has duped citizens into supporting the death penalty. This idea has been proven fraudulent through both logic and statistics. According to Agnes Heller, a professor at the New School for Social Research, murders occur for three reasons: passion, profit and compulsion. Murderers who kill under the motivation of profit kill extremely judiciously. They never consider apprehension so they pay no heed to the death penalty. Crimes of passion cannot be deterred because when someone reaches the emotional state where they murder, they do not think logically about the consequences. Crimes motivated by compulsion have no preventative measures because the criminally insane perpetrate these transgressions: those who kill because they have a desire to do so. No punishment can stop this mentally ill person. If the above argument does not convince, the statistics should. According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), the average murder rate for every 100,000 people in states without the death penalty in 2007 reached 3.1. States that utilized capital punishment had a rate of 5.5.
Next is the argument that killers deserve to die. No matter what a person has done, no matter what his personal history, killing a person is still murder, even if the government performs it under the pretext of justice. The biblical 'eye for an eye' punishment has become inapplicable and irrelevant in our day and age. Supporting the death penalty and having the government exterminate a person in your name, even a heinous killer, puts you on the same moral ground as he or she because you have both taken a life. Vengeance and emotion have no place in law.
The subsequent notion to refute is the painlessness of the death penalty. Over the years, horribly bungled executions have taken place. In one case, the electric current used to kill melted the skin off a Louisianan man's face, causing it to dribble down onto his shirt. In the more publicized execution of Angel Diaz, technicians missed his veins when inserting the IV tubes, causing a slow, excruciating death. In addition, a study published by the Public Library of Science stated that when cases of Californian and North Carolinian executions were investigated, the chemicals used in the process were medically unreliable and ineffective. Another study published by The Lancet, a British medical journal stated that out of the forty-nine inmates randomly studied, eighty-eight percent had lower levels of thiopental (the anesthetic used) than the required dosage for surgery. Forty-three percent had levels consisted with awareness, meaning twenty-one of those forty-six convicts felt pain and suffocation while being killed but were paralyzed by a neuromuscular drug.
The second to last issue that to address is the killing of innocent people who have been convicted. One hundred and thirty people have been sentenced to death row and then exonerated. We, as a nation, have killed guiltless people as the advent of DNA technology has proven their innocence. The fact that the US has wrongfully murdered blameless individuals obligates the end of this dissipated system. As with all systems, flaws exist. Juries and judges make mistakes, evidence is withheld, and witness lie occasionally. But each mistake made becomes someone's life being snuffed out. Life is too precious to erroneously end. According to the DPIC, the wait between sentencing and exoneration averaged to be about nine and a half years. A perfectly guiltless person has had to suffer nearly a decade of terror and imprisonment. As Richard Dieter, director of the DPIC said, 'If you are for the death penalty, you have to say we are going to lose innocent lives, but it is worth it.'
We have become a nation who preaches and exemplifies freedom and justice. Killing others and worse, killing wrongly, shames our name. Why has the US followed a path embraced by many totalitarian states and rejected by most of the world's democracies? In no way does this writer think that dangerous individuals who commit such violent acts should remain on the streets. However, life in prison without the possibility of parole ideally replaces the death penalty. It is cheaper and more importantly, it can be undone in a sense. If evidence does surface or technology advances to the point where an individual can be exonerated, then the person can be released. We can remove unsafe people from society and still not have to put them to death.
'The Death Penalty.' Penn and Teller: B.S. Showtime. CBS. New York. 17 April 2006
"Facts about Deterrence and the Death Penalty." Death Penalty Information Center. DPIC. 26 Jan 2009
Goldenberg , Suzanne. "America turns its back on death penalty after botched lethal injection of killer." The Guardian 10 January 2007 16-17. 26 Jan 2009
" Innocence and the Death Penalty.'Death Penalty Information Center. DPIC. 26 Jan 2009
Koniaris, Leonidas, Teresa A Zimmers , David A Lubarsky , and Jonathan P Sheldon . "Inadequate
anesthesia in lethal injection for execution." The Lancet 16 April 2005 1412 - 1414. 26 Jan 2009 .
"Lethal Injection for Execution: Chemical Asphyxiation?." PLoS Medicine. Public Library
of Science. 26 Jan 2009
" Lethal Injection Is Not Humane." PLoS Medicine. Public Library of Science. 26 Jan 2009