Death ultimately, to the fact it cannot be practiced

Penalty Is Unjustified

       Death penalty refers to the decision by a jury in the
sentencing phase of a capital case to put an inmate to death. As time goes on,
fewer countries allow death penalty. Nowadays, the United States is one of the
58 countries that still practice death penalty, when 139 countries have already
repealed death penalty by law or by practice (“International Views on the Death
Penalty”). The rationality of death penalty has long been a heated topic
worldwide. The great French writer Victor Hugo said, “What says the law? You
will not kill. How does it say it? By killing!” Hugo insists that it is not
only unjustified but also unconstitutional to take the life of the killer when
he has killed someone. Indeed, the principle of “an eye for an eye” will never
honor the victims because it is barbaric and irrational in nature. The Death
penalty can no longer be justified due to its immorality, its failure to act as
a deterrent, and ultimately, to the fact it cannot be practiced fairly and with
reasonable consistency. It must be replaced by the
less severe and more effective punishment of life imprisonment without parole.

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       Death penalty is immoral, devaluing human life and destroying
modern civilization. One of the greatest faults of the punishment of death is
that it treats people as nonhumans, taking the life of human being as an object
that can be abandoned. “Allowing our government to kill citizens compromises
the deepest moral values upon which this country was conceived: the inviolable
dignity of human persons” (Prejean 626). When a country messes up revenge with
justice, it debases itself as a murderer in the way it cheapens human life. In
his “The Death Penalty”, David Bruck cites the last words of Joseph Carl Shaw, a
condemned prisoner. Right before his death, Shaw said that “Killing was wrong when
I did it. It is wrong when you do it” (581). The fact that a cruel condemned
prisoner was giving a lesson to the American civilized society is shocking.

American government lowers social morality by committing the same crime a
murderer did. As Bruck points out, if we must kill the murder to avoid
trivializing murder, then we have to sodomize the rapist to severely punish
rape. Admittedly, criminals threaten the safety of innocent people as well as
social order, but it does not follow that the government must punish them to
death to affirm justice. American government apparently should not inflict
punishment on criminals the way criminals did to their victims. Besides, taking
the life of a murderer will not give an end to the tragedy because the impulse
to commit violence will only be strengthened by the violent expression of death
penalty. To kill a person who has killed someone else will merely “continue the
cycle of violence which ultimately destroys the avenger as well as the offender”
(Schroth). In another words, the principle of “an eye for an eye” and the
practice of capital punishment will cultivate a culture of violence and revenge
in American society, which makes people gradually internalize the misconception
that the ultimate settlement for great loss is to adopt violence, even at the
cost of another human life. This ideology poses great harm to modern
civilization and social progress. The United States must bear in mind that it
should never lower its moral standard to the level of a murder. Therefore, death
penalty must be abolished so as to protect human dignity as well as social

       Additionally, death penalty is unfairly and inconsistently
administered based on race, social class and region. It discriminates against
social minorities to a great extent. Given that African Americans make up only
13 percent of the United States’ population, the fact that nearly 50 percent of
those currently on the federal death row are African American is astonishing (“NAACP
Remains Steadfast in Ending Death Penalty & Fighting Injustice in America’s
Justice System”). Racial minority criminals, especially blacks and Hispanics,
are disproportionally condemned to death. People who support death penalty will
explain the phenomenon by simply saying that racial minorities commit capital
crimes out of proportion to their numbers. However, this explanation is not
valid. According to a research by Donald Partington, a lawyer, there were 2,798
men that were convicted of rape or attempted rape in Virginia between 1908 and
1963. Among these men, 56 percent are White while 44 percent are African
Americans. Nevertheless, all of the 54 men who were executed for these crimes
were African Americans (Henslin and Fowler 186). Death penalty is obviously
imposed in a racially biased manner. Studies have shown that a criminal is
three-and a-half times more likely to be charged with death penalty if his
victim is white than if his victim is black (Ryan 596). Moreover, with the fact
that almost all the criminals awaiting execution on death row have low-income
backgrounds, the justice system is also biased against people from low social
class. Nearly all of those executed are impoverished, and most of them are
racial minorities who do not have money for adequate legal defense (“Talking
Points: Suspend the Death Penalty”). On the contrary, rich or prestige people
are rarely convicted of capital offense, not to mention being executed (Ryan
591). Apart from the factors of race and social class, geography also makes a
huge difference in a criminal’s chance of being executed. Death penalty is not
allowed in 18 states, and some southern states are much more likely to order
executions than are others. Great inconsistency exists even within state. “A
killing with the same circumstances might get 40 years in one county and death
in another county” (Ryan 592). “The death penalty must be imposed fairly, and
with reasonable consistency, or not at all” (Blackmun 620). Death penalty by no
means upholds the dignity of human life when it is mostly handed out to
socially disadvantaged groups in an inconsistent and discriminatory manner, indicating
that it must be permanently suspended.

       Nonetheless, some people will support death penalty by saying
that it has strong deterrence power. They insist that death penalty will induce
the greatest fear among criminals because people fear nothing more than death. “The
overwhelming majority of killers make every effort to stay alive” (Koch 578). In
this case, death penalty can deter murder and other violent crimes to a great
extent. Compared to capital punishment, imprisonment is less feared, and thus
less effective. Nonetheless, people must remain wide awake to understand and
remind themselves of this most severe punishment. Unfortunately, sometimes when
criminals commit violence, they have already lost their minds under the fuel of
anger and hostility. They do not think of the consequences of their behaviors. More
importantly, evidence shows that death penalty actually increase murder rate. In
his “Show Death Penalty the Door,” Jimmy Carter, the 39th President
of the United States, points out that “homicide rate is at least five times
greater in the United States than in any Western European country, all without
the death penalty.” Carter examines the situation in the United States and
finds out that “Southern states carry out more than 80 percent of the
executions but have a higher murder rate than any other region.” For example, Texas
holds the record of numbers of executions, but its homicide rate is twice that
of Wisconsin, the first state to repeal the death penalty. The difference does
not only exist between the South and the North, but also among neighboring
states. Capital crime rates in states with death penalty like South Dakota,
Connecticut and Virginia are higher than the ones in states without death
penalty, such as North Dakota, Massachusetts and West Virginia. Furthermore, the
positive correlation between death penalty and murder rate exists within a state.

In Florida, the rate of intentional homicide decreased by 17 percent in 1983
when no criminal was executed. However, the homicide rate increased by 5.1
percent when Florida executed 8 criminals in 1984 (Bruck 583). Apparently, the
death penalty does not reduce capital crimes, and crime rate does not increase
when executions stop. “To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, it
is not justice” (Ryan 588). Revenge will only turn into greater hostility and
violence, instead of deterrent power and social harmony. Consequently, the
death penalty is not justified on the ground of deterrent effectiveness. 


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