If the various polls conducted on a regular basis are any indication, the death penalty is a very, VERY controversial subjects as far as Americans are concerned. People from some states believe that it is a fair punishment that fits the crime, while citizens of others don’t think it actually helps at all. On average, the nation’s opinion is split right in the middle. But regardless of what people think, the facts remain – while executions are slowly declining, there are still hundreds of people on death row right now, a good number of which will not live to see a ban on the death penalty unless it happens right now, and that simply won’t happen unless more people openly oppose it. While we at CUADP completely approve of everyone’s right to choose for themselves, we also believe that everyone has the responsibility to make an informed choice, and as such would like to present our point of view. These are some of the bigger reasons why we believe that the death penalty is wrong:
1. It’s Permanent
Imagine that you’ve been convicted of murder and thrown in jail for life. Five years later, new evidence surfaces that proves once and for all that you were innocent. The prison apologizes to you, and even though you’ve lost five precious years of your life that you’ll never get back, you are officially free again – and most likely you’ll be provided with a pretty decent monetary compensation too. But what if instead you were sentenced to death and executed? In that case, the new evidence discovered after 5 years would’ve been absolutely and completely useless. You still would’ve died for a crime you didn’t commit. This happens more than you’d think – there are dozens of cases where people (while usually not officially acquitted) were proven innocent post-humously. What’s more, 40% of all polled Americans believe that innocent people are executed frequently, with only 3% believing that this never happens. So if 97% of people can agree that the system kills innocent people, isn’t it time to replace it?
2. Executions Turn Innocents Into Killers
It’s easy to take the phrase “put to death by the state” literally – like, the whole state just suddenly appears in a physical form and obliterates the guilty. We’ve put the image of the hooded executioner behind us as a caricature from the past, but really, the only thing that has changed is the hood. Even in the most automated systems for execution, a human hand is still needed. Someone has to pull the switch. Someone has to push the button. And that someone is going to have to spend the rest of his or her life with the knowledge that they killed another human being, which might be just as terrible as being put to death yourself. The sheer fact that police officers who are forced to take a life on the job are required by law to visit a psychologist afterwards should tell you that taking a life is not something that can be done lightly. And let’s not forget about the doctors who have given an oath to never hurt anyone and suddenly find themselves forced to become complicit in what is essentially murder – state-sanctioned murder, but murder nonetheless.
3. The Death Penalty Is Ridiculously Expensive
Try and take a guess how much an execution costs, from the arrest of the eventual death row inmate all the way to the procedure that puts them to death. No, seriously, guess. $10k? $100k? $1 mil? The truth is that, on average, it costs about $250 million per prisoner. Yes, the price of putting a single person to death is more than most of us can ever hope to see in the entirety of our lifetimes. This may sound like a ridiculously inflated number, but keep in mind that a murder trial with the prosecutor calling for the death penalty costs millions more than one where the sought verdict is life without parole. Additionally, the accommodation of death row prisoners is several times more expensive than that of regular prisoners, and the procedure itself also costs a ridiculous amount of money, especially if the method of execution is lethal injection. The drugs that are used are very specific and can’t really be replaced or substituted without risking horrible side effects (Pancuronium Bromide, the drug used second in the sequence, relaxes the muscles and paralyses the body, including the diaphragm, causing the prisoner to slowly suffocate to death unless they’re not given the other two drugs as well, which knock them out and stop the heart). At the end of the day, even if you hold someone in prison for 50 years, that’s still not going to cost nearly as much as an execution would.
4. It Just Doesn’t Work
In the 70s, the death penalty was reinstated in the US after a ban that lasted for decades. It was meant to make people even more afraid of committing crimes – I guess someone somewhere assumed that people would say “Hey, life in prison isn’t so bad, I can kinda dig that, but death? Whoa, that’ll definitely stop me from killing someone!” Naturally, it didn’t work at all. While violent crime has decreased slightly in recent years, none of that can be connected to the carrying out of executions. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the existence of the death penalty is acting as a deterrent for violent crimes, so why do we even keep it around? It has absolutely no purpose, and pointless things need to be removed.