Is the death penalty ethical? | Teen Ink

Is the death penalty ethical?

February 5, 2011
By Musicfeedsthesoul07 PLATINUM, Naperville, Illinois
Musicfeedsthesoul07 PLATINUM, Naperville, Illinois
25 articles 0 photos 95 comments

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Guilty!! The defendant is sentenced to death by this court of law!!!! These ten words can ruin a person’s life. I strongly disagree that the death penalty is an ethical sentence. Not only is it barbaric and outdated but also is irreversible and hypocritical.

From the guillotine to the witch burnings, the death penalty has been used since biblical times. Shouldn’t we learn for our mistakes, during the Salem Witch trails where millions lost their lives based on hoax? In Medieval Europe and Imperial China criminals were drawn and quarted (trampled by horses) whereas Romans were known to throw victims in a lion’s den. Today, modern practice can be anywhere from Pushing off a cliff to lethal injection. In the modern United States penalties can range from shooting (Utah, Idaho and Oklahoma), electric chair (Alabama, Nebraska, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Illinois and Kentucky), gas chamber (Wyoming, California, Missouri and Arizona) and lethal injection (All states). Do we really want our influential and important country to be electrocuting and poisoning our criminals? We are backtracking if we use the same ancient punishment methods and we need to move forward by eliminating the death penalty and urging other countries to follow our lead.

Death is the most irreversible punishment that could be given. According to United States court records, 1 in 7 executed victims are later proven innocent. These innocent lives could have easily been spared if the death penalty was no longer considered a legal option. Such is the case of Ruben Cantu, a Hispanic special-ed student who grew up in a dangerous neighborhood and was only 17 at the time of his alleged crime. Cantu had no previous convictions but a San Antonio prosecutor labeled him as “violent thief, gang member and ruthless murderer who shot a man 9 times repeatedly and then proceeded to empty his gun on the only eyewitness.” He was convicted and sentenced to death; Cantu was proclaiming his innocence till the time of his death at the age of 26. Almost twelve years later the sole witness retracted his previous accusation, saying that he was sure the man who shot him wasn’t Cantu, the witness also stated that being an illegal immigrant at the time, he felt pressured by the police to point out the young man as the killer. "Part of me died when he died," the witness said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, "You've got a 17-year-old who went to his grave for something he did not do. Texas murdered an innocent person." Cantu was an example of many innocent citizens who were sentenced to death for a crime they did not commit.

If we are punishing a criminal for murder, aren’t we being hypocritical by murdering them? Two wrongs don’t make a right. The death penalty can easily be replaced by life sentences. Many criminals can get out by parole for “good behavior” but courts can deny a brutal criminal option for parole, no matter how well they are behaving.
Although this will never bring back the lives of those lost it will save another from meeting the same fate. It will also give the grieving families closure, knowing that the murderer is forever behind bars.
Also, according to the United States court records an African American murderer is almost four times as likely to receive the death penalty in comparison to Caucasian offenders. This is proof of a bias system, which therefore makes it unreliable. In addition, the 8th amendment in the Bill of Rights states cruel and unusual punishment is prohibited; if cruel punishment is forbidden, than why is the cruelest punishment still allowed? It is hypocritical for us to fight fire with fire, and the government needs to consider that.

Overall, the death penalty needs to be abolished and put to rest with the Guillotines and shackles of our past. This penalty is keeping us tethered to barbaric ways and has ended many innocent lives. Not only does the death penalty contradict the beliefs of our country but also it contradicts itself.

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