A man in his late 30s is walking down a cold, lifeless hallway. He maintains a solemn stare at the ground as if it is a window through which he can see all of his past mistakes. He was found guilty of murder and, despite numerous attempts to convince the judge that he could change, was sentenced to death. The chains binding his hands behind his back remind him that he will never be free again. Surrounding him are three guards, each carrying a rifle. They walk the prisoner to a small room at the end of the hallway. Inside, a doctor is preparing what looks like a simple flu vaccination, but the flu is the last thing on the prisoner's mind. As the guards strapped him down, he began to beg for his life. With a sigh of regret, the doctor inserts the needle and counts to three. The prisoner began to shake violently as his organs shut down on him one by one. Within two minutes of the injection, the prisoner was pronounced dead. If this man did actually murder someone, who is to say that he couldn't change for the better? How does taking his life justify the death of the person he killed? This is in noway true justice. Although the death penalty can sometimes provide closure for the family of a murder victim, it should be outlawed because it is morally, ethically, and legally unjust.
As for the moral aspect of capital punishment, the expert opinion of the death penalty is constantly changing. It is widely accepted across the United States that lethal injection is the most humane form of execution. However, there is really no humane way to take away a man's existence. Several Supreme Court Justices who once voted in favor of capital punishment are now beginning to see this logic as well. It is very uncommon for a member of the Supreme Court to completely reverse his or her opinion on an issue, but in recent years, three justices have come forward saying exactly that. These are Justices Powell, Blackmun, and Stevens; all of which voted to uphold capital punishment in the 1970s (Berry 442). It seems that these men are now finding moral issues that they had never seen before. According to the dissenting opinion on the 1994 Supreme Court case Callins v. Collins written by Justice Harry Blackmun:
From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the
machinery of death... Rather than continue to coddle the Court's delusion that the desired level of fairness has been achieved and
the need for regulation eviscerated, I feel morally and
intellectually obligated simply to concede that the death penalty
experiment has failed. It is virtually self-evident to me now that
nocombination of procedural rules or substantive regulations
ever can save the death penalty from its inherent constitutional
deficiencies. The basic question- does the system accurately and
consistently determine which defendants "deserve" to die?-
cannot be answered in the affirmative (Berry 443).
It is clear that the expert opinion of capital punishment is changing rapidly. Therefore, the general public's opinion is not far behind. Soon enough, more rulings regarding capital punishment will have to be made and eventually it will be outlawed.
Ethically speaking, the cons of capital punishment far outweigh the pros. If the purpose of the death penalty is to assure liberty to murder victims and see that justice is achieved, then the system has failed because "...only 1-2% of convicted murderers are executed or sentenced to death respectively"(White Paper 83). Even if the death penalty brings any kind of relief to a victim's family, it occurs so rarely that it appears to have no effect. Also, a strong and valid argument can be made over the economic issues with capital punishment. Surprisingly, it costs $2.16 million more to execute one prisoner than it does for one prisoner to serve a life sentence (White Paper 83). This money should be going to more...