Since its creation, the death penalty has been a controversial issue in America. Supporters of capital punishment claim that it is the best form of justice and that it makes society safer. However, the death penalty is detrimental to society. It does exactly what it tries to prevent: murder. It is inhumane and cruel; for these reasons all of the other civilized, democratic countries in the world have banned the use of capital punishment in their legal system . The United States stands alone in its support and legalization of capital punishment for good reason; the death penalty is not an effective or appropriate form of punishment. Morally, the death penalty is wrong and makes the state as guilty of crime as the criminal. It does not deter crime in any way, but actually increase the number of murders. Lastly, innocent humans have been executed in the past and will continue to be wrongly murdered with the continued legalization of the death penalty. For these reasons, the death penalty is wrong and should be abolished in America.
There is no question that the death penalty is a moral issue. Is it right for the state to murder someone who killed another person? Advocates for the use of capital punishment believe that “the punishment [should] fit the crime,” which is usually murder . They believe that murder is the best way to right the wrong committed by the criminal. These advocates for capital punishment state that it is the only fair punishment for murder. Justice is meant to put the victim back where he was before a particular incident. For this reason, the person responsible for a vehicular accident pays to repair the other vehicle, putting it in the position it was before the incident. Unfortunately, there is no way to compensate the victim of murder, so death is viewed as the best solution for society. Other supporters point to Christianity, the Bible, and other religions, claiming that the moral code of most people allows for the execution of criminals. The most famous biblical quote regarding justice, “an eye for an eye,” has been interpreted many different ways over the years, mainly to say that the Christian Bible supports capital punishment. This approach does, after all, remove the threat of evil from that particular criminal, increasing the safety of those who do good. However, these advocates conveniently overlook the fact that supporting the death penalty is comparable to them supporting the murder of a person. Supporters claim that killing is punishable by murder simply because there is no other equivalent to death, but how does this make killing right? All murder is a serious crime in this country and other civilized, democratic countries, thus murder by the state should also be a crime. Thomas Jefferson desired for America to be founded and built on the idea that “all men are created equal” in the eyes of the law. The state is not above the morals of the people within it, therefore it cannot act in a way that its citizens cannot also act. It is immoral for the state to murder anyone. Christianity, which helped create American law, also opposes the use of capital punishment. Jesus could have easily condemned his Roman executioners and even asked God to kill them, but he did not because that would have just made him a murderer as well. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict the XVI, the former and current leaders of the Catholic Church respectively, both oppose the use of Capital Punishment in the world today. The Church has since changed its official view on capital punishment to oppose the murder of criminals as well. All murder is wrong and can never be justified. Capital punishment is just as immoral as murder by a criminal.
There is also the question as to whether or not the death penalty deters crime. Supporters aggressively point to a drop in crime rate as a result of capital punishment. Amnesty International, a leading organization for the protection of human rights, found in a survey that the death penalty does not deter “murder to a marginally greater extent than does the threat and application of the supposedly lesser punishment of life imprisonment.” Additionally, DeathPenaltyinfo.org (DPI.org), the leading non-biased web site for information on the capital punishment, shows that “states without the death penalty have had consistently lower murder rates” than those that support it. Thus, the death penalty does not deter crime in any way, but on the contrary, its use increases the number of murders in America.
How certain is the death penalty? Advocates for the death penalty state that it saves lives in the long term. Others even argue that the ends justify the means; the deaths of a few innocent people are simply the price to pay to have a supposedly “safer” society. This is absolutely wrong. It is unacceptable for anyone, the state or a criminal, to kill even one innocent person. Killing innocent citizens deprives Americans of the “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” that all people are “endowed by their creator” with (Jefferson). America was built on the idea that all people have the right to their own lives, thus the murder resulting from capital punishment is unconstitutional, especially the murder of innocent people. The sad reality is that “states will continue to execute people who are later found innocent” if capital punishment is allowed . There have been five innocent people freed on death row per year from 2000- 2007 . This is forty innocent citizens that would have been unjustly murdered due to capital punishment. Look at the image below, every number is one person who was sentenced to death, but found innocent just in time. Purely the fact that anyone on death row was found innocent is evidence enough that many innocent people have died in the past and more will continue to die solely because of capital punishment.
The death penalty is barbaric and unconstitutional. The Eight Amendment in the Bill of Right states that “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted,” which capital punishment advocates. Murdering someone for a crime is cruel and unusual, which is why all of the other civilized, democratic countries in the world, except America, chose to abolish the death penalty . Benjamin Franklin, the most influential and arguably the most important of America’s founding fathers, once said that “it is better [that one hundred] guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer” in prison; this idea has become the foundation of the American justice system. Franklin would abhor the use and implications of the death penalty in America today. Because of capital punishment, America cannot consider itself among the great, civilized nations of the world.
 Amnesty International. “The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished.” Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale Cengage Learning, 2009. Web. 27 Oct. 2009.
 Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 27 Oct. 2009. <http://deathpenaltyinfo.org/>.
 Otis, William. “The Death Penalty Saves Lives.” Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale Cengage Learning, 2008. Web. 27 Oct. 2009.
 Simon, Paul. “Capital Punishment Does Not Make Nations Safer.” Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale Cengage Learning, 2008. Web. 27 Oct. 2009.
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