The Truth about the Death Penalty
Politics and Activism

The Truth about the Death Penalty

The arguments about capital punishment and why the American public cares so much.

Aljazeera America

The death penalty in America has been persistently debated over years. The public, as always, wants to finally resolve this issue with a concrete answer. However, even though both stances, in support or disdain for the penalty, seem rational, the two versions of morality are clearly different. One side is completely against taking away someone's life while the other strives to bring justice and closure to the victims and their families. Both sides are extremely vocal even though few individuals are affected by the death penalty. The death penalty's recurring role in political discourse is disproportionate since few individuals are eligible for capital punishment, and further exhibits that Americans are unwilling to abandon their principles.

One side of the argument believes in the abolition of capital punishment and the idea that two wrongs do not make a right. They are quick to defend the life of someone who would not think twice about taking theirs. These individuals show their view that everyone deserves their “right to life” even a criminal that has taken this right away from his or her victims.

The opposition is quick to point out that the death penalty is outrageously expensive and the cost of putting someone to death far outweighs sentencing them to life in prison. Regardless, it is crucial to not compare the money to the possibility to save lives. Human life cannot be monetized.

On the other hand, the supporters of the capital punishment believe the leniency towards horrific killers overlooks true justice for the families of the victims. They believe in the idea of “eye for an eye”. This retribution is sometimes referred to as revenge, but retribution is not revenge; it is closure to those whose lives have been permanently altered due to the criminal’s malicious actions. After the conviction of Earl Ringo Jr., many Americans came out to support his punishment.

The supporters of the death penalty confidently believe that the execution of ruthless criminals is not “cruel and unusual”. The most common form of capital punishment, lethal injection, is in most cases a comparatively less painful way to die than that suffered by the victims. The death penalty is not “unusual” since it has been practiced in the United States for centuries. The more conservative side sees the danger of having a volatile individual in jail since they could hurt themselves prison staff and other inmates. Is it immoral to want to protect the individuals and workers around an already convicted deadly killer? In addition, capital punishment prevents murder in prison because the convicts who already are serving life sentences think twice about killing due to the harsher sentence. For the criminals who are eligible for release it is calculated that “in 2009, researchers found that adopting state laws allowing defendants in child murder cases to be eligible for the death penalty was associated with an almost 20 percent reduction in rates of these crimes”. Due to this research, it can be estimated that keeping ruthless murders away from innocent people leads to less crime. Likewise, people do not realize that prison life is incredibly difficult. Having a life sentence without the eligibility of parole is hard on inmates since they have to come to terms with the fact they are simply waiting to die.

The amount of executions has decreased in recent years, further creating distance with protesters and their connections to the individuals on death row. During the 1990s a staggering 200 people were executed on average per year. One reason for this trend is that in 1994 a new legislation included sixty other offenses that make a person eligible for the death penalty. The Oklahoma City bombing also had a great effect on the public’s support for the penalty after the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was passed. However in the 2000s a serious shift occurred in American society. Even after the devastating attack on the twin towers in 2001, many people did not feel the death penalty should be so abundantly used. This new opposition towards the conservative practice is rapidly gaining ground.

The question here is: why do people even care about the death penalty? A small portion of the public is and will ever be affected by the death penalty. Nevertheless, people care very deeply for the fate of the few who are harm to society. This shows that United States citizens believe in their opinions and make sure to voice them. They are responsive and conscience to laws and societal beliefs. Political leaders also clearly see that this argument is very important to people and use capital punishment as a way for the American public to evaluate the country’s morals. During the 2000s, a far more liberal and empathetic mindset was getting more ground as the years went by. Rather than discussing healthcare and education, topics that clearly affect everyone’s life, the media keep pushing on with stories about death penalty. This issue has been a fascination for regular people. Today, it is important to the American public that the correct person is found to be responsible for the crimes and for them to receive a punishment that is most suitable for their development. There may never be a consensus on the death penalty but the American public will continue to debate this issue for years to come. The constant argument over capital punishment proves Americans are very stubborn and adamant about their beliefs.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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