Is Capital Punishment Necessary?


Clara Smith, Gr. 9


In the past three years,  28 people have been executed by lethal injection in the US and 63 percent of those people were reported to be black males. This is due to death penalty laws in the United States. It is unjust that we should choose the fate of humans, therefore the death penalty should not be legalized. We are also not Gods, we don’t need the power of deciding one’s life or death.  If one such person deserves a punishment as great as death, then their conscience shall be the death of them. Although it seems we have left the days of torturing criminals to achieve said “justice”, there it is, plain as day-yet another legal reason, however inhumane it is-to continue taking lives

Although we might seem god-like at times, we are not, and therefore shouldn’t have the power of a  god. “If someone plays God, they use their power or authority to make important decisions that you think a person should not make, especially decisions about whether people live or die” (Macmillan Dictionary). A person who  plays at god could very easily become a monster who does whatever they can to gain power. It might not be the same for the American Legal Justice System, but we do often let our emotions guide the way in difficult situations; such as murder trial for a juvenile. “To play God is supposedly to do something morally wrong… This raises the possibility of creating a Frankenstein monster that cannot be controlled and is therefore morally wrong”(John Weckert Playing God). We tend to look at the perpetrator with such disdain that we don’t even think of what our choices may do. We would essentially be causing the same exact thing that the perpetrator did, but in a “justifiable” sense. Hence the importance of knowing whether or not we are “playing at god”, to then change our opinions in a less life destroying way. Once again our species doesn’t need nor deserve the power to decide another one’s fate.

We as humans automatically have a conscience that constantly weighs down on us, until we give into it or- in other ways-die from it. “Whereas those that are inclined to feel shame about the self might not…Research has shown that this sense of tension and regret typically motivates reparative action — confessing, apologizing, or somehow repairing the damage done”(June P. Tangney February 11, 2014). Even the most mentally unstable and incapable people have a conscience, whether they acknowledge it or not. And whether those people realize it, they make certain decisions based on that otherwise guilty conscience. No matter the intensity of the crime a single person(s) has committed, they will most likely confess or do something that gets them caught. Several infamous cases have shown that the person that committed the crime at hand will become more anxious and scared, therefore making more mistakes that eventually get them caught. The weight of someone’s crimes will essentially do the same thing to them in incarceration. In the past 2 years there have been 151 self-inflicted deaths in a US prison. This shows that the longer people have time to think about what they did, the more guilt and shame that piles onto their conscience, practically forcing them to find some way of escape from their own actions. 

Back when we thought there was only one way to achieve justice, torturing to death was considered normal. Nowadays it’s considered inhumane and outdated, yet there always seems to be loopholes when it comes to killing people-however guilty or innocent they are.“By legitimizing the very behaviour that the law seeks to repress—killing—capital punishment is counterproductive in the moral message it conveys….capital punishment is immoral because it is wholly disproportionate to the harm done.”(Britannica, Roger Hood)The United States justice system has been trying to prevent murder since it was created. However, they don’t seem to realize that they are continuing the very behavior they seek to get rid of.  There are so many people in the past and present who have done unspeakable things against others. Those people certainly deserve to have a punishment beyond death, and some did. But just ask yourself this, do we truly need to take more lives to get justice for others? That seems counterintuitive and completely unnecessary. The legal system is sworn to do the right thing, but are they really?

Although some people are against the death sentence, most completely agree with the concept of it. “Proponents of the death penalty say it is an important tool for preserving law and order, deters crime, and costs less than life imprisonment. They argue that retribution or “an eye for an eye” honors the victim, helps console grieving families, and ensures that the perpetrators of heinous crimes never have an opportunity to cause future tragedy” ( 9/21/2021). However, killing people even for justice is completely against any sort of right morals. There are more and more people getting killed by lethal injection every year. Most of them because of racial injustice or because they cannot pay for a decent lawyer. The American Legal Justice System has failed us in this way of preventing the death of people, whether they are innocent or guilty. The government is wrongly given the power of deciding ones life or death when the death penalty is brought to the table. Although the government might not acknowledge it, the conscience of the mind is more powerful than they might think. And we may have left the days of killing and torturing behind us, but they still seem to come through in todays modern law system. There may be no solution to the never ending debate of the death sentence, but it should be known that taking one life for the justice of others is not a solution.

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