The Flawed Ethics of Death Penalty

Picture this: you’re reading through the news, and you see this article about a murder in your city. Looking through social media to find out more, you find people outraged. They’re demanding, through the comments, for a public execution. They want ‘justice.’ You’re angry too; death seems like a reasonable punishment for death, right? An eye for an eye? You need the government to show potential killers how they’ll be punished, too.

A lot of us have seen the YouTube videos showing stories of the wrongly accused, and how they got out of jail because of evidence acquitting them later. This just goes to show how common late acquittals are. The criminal justice system isn’t perfect, and wrongful convictions are pretty common. One step the government should take to cushion the harshness of that fact, is abolishing the death row. There’s always a chance that people in the death row are innocent. Ethically, is it right for us to take that chance? Knowing that it can’t be reversed, knowing that the criminal justice system commits the most hypocritical act by simply taking that chance?

Like the US Catholic Conference says, “We cannot show that killing is wrong by killing.” When the media is hungry for a public execution in the name of justice, are they really seeking vengeance?

Anyway, doesn’t a death penalty deter people from committing crimes in the future? It’s pretty obvious, right? Even if taking that chance, (and scapegoating individuals) does better for the country, it may be worth it after all!

Actually, evidence proves against; and actually, the exact opposite of that. South America, with executing at 81% of convicts, has the highest rate of murder, while the northeast has a rate of only one percent, and the lowest rate. Furthermore, stats point out that executions brutalise individuals, angering disturbed individuals further and increasing the probability of them committing the same crime. A majority of people previously supported the death penalty because they believed it deterred crime, and due to unfair media coverage, this belief is encouraged and passed down generations: to a point where the belief is so rigid it feels like an instinct.

Another reason why the death penalty is cruel is because it treats oppressed demographics unfairly. Studies show that the mentally ill, POC, and those affected by poverty make up a majority of the death row inmates. Taking into account intersectionality, the death penalty is extremely unfair on groups that may be committing the least crimes. They are also less likely to get good lawyers, or a fair chance at trials.

I know the anger we feel. I know how, we all collectively want punishment for someone that has wronged us. Death is not that punishment. A way better alternative is life without parole: spending one’s entire life in jail, without having the chance of being bailed out or released. Victim’s parents, as a matter of fact, have admitted to a death sentence for the convict being harsh on them, mentally. If we want justice for the victim’s family, we have to choose the justice that comes with ease for their mental state too. And they really have admitted that they would prefer if the convict lived a life without parole.

The most fundamental human right is the right to live. Being a terrible person still doesn’t justify the violation of that right. Being a “monster” doesn’t justify it either. It takes real taxpayer’s money, and charging the population living on minimum wage, paycheck-to-paycheck: for this system that has no way of confirming that it’s fool proof. The cost? Literal death.

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