Abolishing the Death Penalty in America

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Abolishing the Death Penalty in America

The death penalty has always been a controversial topic in the United States. It is outlawed in 16 states, but it should be abolished in all fifty states. The act of the death penalty is irrational, costly, inhumane, and religiously immoral. Taking an individual’s life, because he/she murdered someone is senseless and is not a good representation of the United States.

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another out but similar that breed their kind” (quoted in Costanzo 95). This shows why the act of the death penalty is not a deterrence to future criminals. If an individual truly feels the need to harm someone else, he/she will do it regardless of the consequences. By putting a murderer to death the, law is killing people, an act they are trying to deter people from.

Philosopher Emmanuel Kant made an argument stating that killing someone for deterrence is using them as a tool, and it is unjust within itself (Pojman 70). Many think that by having the death penalty as a consequence for first degree murder, the rates of homicide will drop, because it will “put fear into the hearts of people”(Costanzo 96), but that is not correct. In a survey done by the Death Penalty Information Center, the number of murders in a state implementing the death penalty within the last twenty years have been higher than in a state without the penalty. As recently as 2010, the murder rate of states with the penalty was 25% greater than states without the penalty (“Deterrence”). Those statistics show that although the law may stop a few individuals, it is not a considerable enough number to call it deterrence.

As well as seeing deterrence as a justifiable reason for the death penalty, individuals believe it is an act of fairness and retribution. They see it as a way of “maintaining the distribution of civic burdens”, and a method of payback, which is the “eye for an eye” principle (Pojman 69-70). Emmanuel Kant also spoke on the topic of retribution, saying that the “eye for an eye” principle is outdated, and also refers to equivalency which the method of death cannot exactly obtain (Pojman 71). By this, Kant is saying that the style of death is not going to be the same so it will not be deemed equivalent.

In many courts of law, the death penalty is seen as justifiable, because it will provide the afore mentioned three rationales: deterrence, fairness, and retribution. Statistics and common sense demonstrate why deterrence is not a valid reason to put one to death. It is also unjust to use an individual in execution as an example to the rest of society. The rationale of fairness does not make sense; putting the burden on someone that is ultimately going to be killed serves no purpose. The third rationale of retribution is out of date. The United States does not run on the “eye for an eye” principle because if it did it would “require us to respond barbarically to those guilty of barbaric crimes” (Nathanson 103). Making it a rational principle in the case of only first degree murder does not coincide with the Unite States principles. With the statistics and outdated principles, these three rationales are irrational and should not be used to support the death penalty.

Since December 2007, the United States has been in a recession. The prices of homes, clothes, gas, and other common goods have inflated dramatically in the past four years. State legislators are always trying to find a way to save money and lower our national debt, but they do not seem to realize that the death penalty is a costly action. Advocates will argue that it is more costly to keep an inmate in jail for life with no parole than to execute him/her, but that is incorrect. California is the most populated state in America, and alone the state could save $90 million annually on the tax payers’ expense by abolishing the death penalty (Costanzo 61)....
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