Kidnappings, human trafficking, and murders- should all these crimes be tolerated? When criminals are arrested they either serve their sentence or face death, although many people believe that the capital punishment should be abolished for countless reasons. Since 1973, the death penalty has killed 1,392 people without facing concerns such as- biases can influence a jury’s judgment, and the death penalty is irrevocable. It also concerns many religions as they don’t believe the government should have the right to choose who dies and who doesn’t. However, many argue that it should be used to eradicate criminals who can’t do society any good. In 2013, several polls stated that younger civilians were more against the death penalty while older people agreed with it. As young adults are the future of America, they should have the right to decide and vote whether it should be abolished or not.
For years society has faced racism and judgment due to their gender, race, or religion- these biases can and have influenced a jury’s judgment towards the criminals sentence. Many studies have shown that the race of the victim and criminal have changed how the jurys view the case and sentence, “Many death penalty opponents observe that while most death row inmates are people of colour, cases in which the victim is white are statistically more likely to result in a capital sentence than cases in which the victim is also a person of colour,” (Hayoun). Although they did commit a crime, they should not have to face racism and a more severe punishment than other criminals whose victims were the same race as themselves. Jury duty is mandatory for citizens of America who vote- which means just about anyone can be summoned, but what if those jurors have prejudices towards the race of the accused? A recent poll stated, “Participants’ questionnaires revealed that the jurors gave more weight to mitigating evidence when the defendant was white than when he was black, and were significantly more likely to improperly use mitigating evidence in favor of a death sentence when the defendant was black,” (DPIC). As stated, colored people faced yet again more racism as the jurors viewed them more dangerous and incriminating because of their skin color than actual evidence, while they viewed white defendants with less judgment.
A fictional, but heartbreaking example would be the character Tom Robinson from “To Kill a Mockingbird” written by Harper Lee, whom the jury found guilty because of their racial prejudice. Atticus Finch stated in his closing argument, “Is it the color of his skin that makes him guilty to you, or his action that make him innocent to me? We are all one, and we cannot look at a black man as immoral when he is one of us,” (Lee). Due to Robinson’s skin color, the town and jury refused to believe his innocence when he was accused of raping a white woman..
This is the problem with many executions, as the criminals actions are viewed twice as worse solely because of their race, while white criminals are unnoticed and get lesser punishment. If an innocent person is put on trial, and sentenced to a few years in jail before being acquitted, they can still live their life and be given compensation for the injustice. But what if an innocent person was sentenced the death penalty only to be proven innocent after? After he/she went through the electric chair or lethal injections, what can the government do after a wrongful death? There have been many cases where an innocent person was acquitted only after completing death row. On June 26, 1980 in St. Louis, Missouri, 19-year-old Quintin Moss was killed in a drive-by shooting, Robert Fitzgerald gave his testimony as a witness and testified that Griffin shot Moss with his right hand. Griffin’s attorney failed to challenge the testimony with evidence such as the fact that Griffin was left-handed and his alibi witness. Although all evidence against him was circumstantial, Griffin was sentenced to death and was executed by lethal injection on June 21, 1995. In 2005, a professor from University of Michigan Law School reopened the case and his investigation concluded that Griffin was innocent all along.
Although proven innocent, Griffin couldn’t just be revived and acquitted- the death penalty is irrevocable and has done more bad than good. Many other people have been sentenced to death only to be acquitted afterwards such as, David Spence and Troy Davis who were accused of murder. A new study by Samuel L. Gross has shown that 1 in 25 executed are innocent, Gross states, “tells you that a surprising number of innocent people are sentenced to death,” in an interview with Newsweek, “it tells you that a lot of them haven’t been exonerated.
Some of them no doubt have been executed,” (Gross). 1 in 25 people being innocent is an injustice, those who haven’t done wrong especially shouldn’t have to face death, just like no one should. In religions such as Catholic and Christianity, many beliefs are preached- and some more than others. At a young age many Catholic kids are taught the Ten Commandments that are seen as mortal sins, yet the death penalty violates two of the commandments. The second commandment states, ” You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them,” and the sixth commandment being, “Thou shall not murder,” (Bible).
The Capital Punishment violates the second commandment because one of the Catholic beliefs is that only god can give or take away someone’s life, and if the government decides who gets the death penalty they are doing God’s role by choosing. The sixth commandment is widely used in many debates such as abortion, murders, suicides, and Capital Punishment as they believe no one can choose anyone’s death date as God as a role for everyone. When a criminal or defendant is killed because of the death penalty, it goes against the commandment as they have committed murder and have chosen someone’s death. Many civilians also believe no one has the right to determine anyone’s death, “But in attempts to keep society safe, Catholics believe they don’t have the right to play God and determine who lives and dies, any more than they have the right to decide which child or which old person or which mentally challenged person lives or dies,” (Patheos). Today, Catholics also believe that the death penalty is immoral and doesn’t allow criminals to repent their crimes but instead are allowed an easy way out of their crimes.
Governor of New York State- George E. Pataki, wrote a speech over his concerns of criminals whom after serving their sentence continue with their crimes as he states, “Preventing a crime from being committed ultimately is more important than punishing criminals after they have shattered innocent lives,” (Pataki). Pataki uses the case of Arthur Shawcross, a serial killer who killed two children, and after being released from a fifteen year sentence- killed eleven more. Shawcross was seen as an example of why Capital Punishment could be useful for sentencing crimes against humanity such as murder and Pataki believed that if Shawcross had been given Capital Punishment instead of a fifteen year sentence, those eleven people would still be alive. Although he makes an excellent point, in some cases the judge refuses to put a criminal with mental illness on the death penalty. After his arrest, Shawcross pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity while a psychiatrist stated Shawcross suffered brain damage, multiple personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and had been sexually abused as a child, therefore he wouldn’t have been given Capital Punishment. Many people who agree with the death penalty will say it stops criminals or will deter criminals from committing their crime. However, there are many factors that influence crime rates such as policing, culture, or job markets, but even if they are put on death row, the wait is extremely long, therefore only increasing the price spent on criminals during their wait.
A better solution for keeping criminals in prison would be Life Without Parole as it gives criminals time to repent their crimes instead of getting executed. Executions aren’t necessary as there are many things that make Capital Punishment an injustice. Not only can a jury be biased towards the defendant’s race, gender, religion, but there have been many cases where an innocent person was sentenced to a wrongful death. Although many religions agree with the government doing their job to protect society, they believe that nobody has the right to sentence anyone’s death even if they have committed a crime.
A more moral punishment could be Life Without Parole, as it not only keeps criminals from committing crimes upon their release, but most importantly it keeps executions from taking place. As citizens of America- Capital Punishment affects all of you, and if you want to make a difference in society’s justice system you can and should join an abolishment movement or raise awareness by instead suggesting LWOP. By voting to sentence criminals LWOP instead of Capital Punishment, you are insuring not only zero innocent deaths, but that the victims families will have tranquility as the criminal will be behind bars to repent their crimes instead of getting an easy death.
As citizens of America- it is your duty to vote against Capital Punishment and realize, there are moral punishments other than death itself.