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Monica Brydges
Madonna University
College Composition I
Professor Aqee
Death penalty
In America there are 32 states that have the death penalty. As of January 2014 there were
3,070 inmates waiting for execution (CNN Library 2).

The death penalty is a legal process

whereby a person is put to death by the government as a punishment for a capital crime. The
justice system’s three main objectives are retribution, rehabilitation and deterrence. For years
people have believed that capital punishment was the ultimate form retribution, thus the death
penalty in one form or another, has been around since the beginning of time. However in today’s
society people are becoming morally aware that it is barbaric to perform this cruel act. Even
though a person is accused of an unthinkable inhumane act, society should not partake in capital
punishment since our justice system is flawed. Since society encompasses all people living
together in a community, theoretically capital punishment makes everyone in that society a
murder. Finally this form of retribution financially drains the taxes payers money that could be
put to better use.
The justice system is not perfect; many innocent people get convicted of crimes in which
they did not commit. David Drehle wrote in an article “Four percent of U.S capital punishment
sentences are wrongful convictions” (Drehle 1). This statistic means that out of the 3,070 people

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on death row right now 120 people are innocent. The death penalty is the ultimate punishment
and it cannot be undone. If a person is found not guilty after they have been executed there is no
way the justice system can give the person their life back. Illinois Governor, George Ryan
realized this truth and changed every death row sentence in the state. Of 171 inmates sentenced
to death, 171 were re-sentenced to life imprisonment and four men were fully pardoned.
Governor Ryan made this controversial choice because he examined the justice system and
found that the error rate of convicting innocents was at 60%. He determined that the justice
system was to flawed to put anyone else’s life on the line and only way in being safe and sure
that innocent people are not killed would be to issue an blanket clemency. (The Governor that
empty death row 1,2). This is an great example of someone opening their eyes to the flaws to the
justice system. The governor saw that there was a grave danger of innocence people getting
killed and decided that this form of justice is not worth the risk. Learning from what governor
George Ryan did, no justice system should put a life on the line if there is even a small chance
that the person could be innocent since human life, no matter how seemingly insignificantly
small, is a most sacred thing.
As well as the justice system not always being perfect in sentencing, there are many
different bias against the defendants getting prosecuted that lead to this outcome. The death
penalty information center stated “In 96% of states where there have been review of race and the
death penalty, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or
both.” (Death Penalty Information Center 2). People are more likely to be sent to death row
based on the color of their skin or the race or status of them or the victim. People who commit
worse crimes get lesser sentences because of the representation they can afford or their victim
was not of a certain race or social status. In addition, if a trail is supposed to be fair everyone

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who is facing death should have a chance to have proper representation? Defendants who cannot
afford a lawyer are being appointment a lawyer who is inexperienced since they have never
worked a case like this before. In a justice system that has so many problems and as isn’t
completely fair or completely accurate all the time, a person life should not be on the line since
there is no way to undo the taking of a life.
In addition to the flaws in the justice system, the death penalty corrupts the people of a
society making every person involved a murder. Killing people for killing is a contradiction to
the morals and beliefs that society has. This form of retribution does not do anything for society
other than making everyone murders. Helen Prejean, a nun who is an activist against the death
penalty once said, “People are more than the worst thing they have ever done in their lives”. This
quote is very true to people on death row. People should not decide whether a person should live
or die based on only their worst act. There might be other factors in a person’s life that the jury
or people involved in the trail may not know about the person that caused them to be who they
are and act the way they act. People are so focused on the crime and how awful that person is for
committing the crime they often forget that the defendant is human as well. Society dehumanizes
people in order to justify the murdering of a person because they have committed inhumane
actions. A society should look any everyone as a human before acting on such harsh penalties.
People do unthinkable things, however we all still human beings. All life is considered scared,
not one human being in this world should have the right to end a life.
Throughout the years more and more people open their eyes to wrongfulness the death
penalty is. They now believe there are alternatives that better suit these criminals. In the past 15
years alone the number of people being sentenced to death have dropped by 335% (death penalty
information center 1). More and more people believe that they would rather have a person serve

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life in prison without parole then end their life entirely. Some even believe criminals on death
row get off easy since they do not have to live with the crimes they have done. In addition the
justice system is designed for retribution, rehabilitation, and deterrence. The death penalty only
provides retribution making the person pay for the actions they have done. It no way rehabilitates
the person and statistics prove that capital punishment does not deter crime. The public is slowly
informing themselves and are discovering how inhume the death penalty is and realizing it
should not be legal.
People are beginning to educate themselves and realize that capital punishment does not
have any effect of the crime rates. In an article named Criminologist’s Views on Deterrence and
the Death Penalty it states, “Eighty-eight percent of the country’s top criminologists do not
believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide” (Radelete 2). Most people believe that
the death penalty does not stop people from doing the crimes they commit. When one of the
three objectives of the justice system is deterrence the government should look at these statistics
and realize this form of punishment does not to the job it is meant to do. Criminalist believes that
if capital punishment was outlawed there will be no change in crime rates. People are still going
to commit crimes no matter what the deterrence is, why use a form of deterrence that could
potentially kill an innocent person.
Along with the lack of deterrence capital punishment provides there is no rehabilitation
occurring. The justice system is supposed to take criminals and while they are serving their time
rehabilitate them to make them a functional member of society. However some people believe
people on death row are rehabilitated before they are put to death, since they come to peace what
they had done and are accepting their death. Meghan Ryan believes, “This understanding of
rehabilitation is, as courts and scholars have concluded, irrelevant to the death penalty,” (Ryan

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1). People are accepting what they had done and maybe they truly changed, however they are
being killed and not being put back into society. The only way to truly rehabilitate a person
would be imprisonment with a chance of parole. If a person is forced to live their full life locked
up in a disgusting prison filled with other felons they are forced to face their actions and have a
chance to be truly reformed. After being proven to be rehabilitated the person could enter back in
society but if they are not proven to show any remorse take any responsibility then they should
remain to be with the other criminals. Every person should have a chance to be rehabilitated the
death penalty deprives any possibility of that.
The death penalty does not only does not make sense morally it doesn’t make sense
financially. Caring for people on death row is more expensive than caring for a person who is
serving a life sentence. In 2003 an audit in kanas found that in death penalty cases they cost,
“70% more than the cost of comparable non-death penalty case” (Amnesty International USA 2
). This is due to all the trials and appeals and all the extra time the prosecutors put into the trail in
order to get death. The death penalty is costing the tax payers excessive amounts of money in
order to kill someone. When alternatives like life in prison cost satanically less why continue to
go through with the money consuming capital punishment? Keeping a person in life prison cost
around $740,000 opposed to the cost of capital punishment that cost around $1.26
million(Amnesty International USA 3 ). Even though some people might believe that the death
penalty would cost less since the government does not have to care for them year after year until
they grow old that is not the case. Millions of dollars that could be spent doing productive things
for the state like improving education or the roads are being wasted on people who are
considered to be outlaws in society. Wasting valuale money to murder people who do not

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deserve the time of day does not make any sense and governments should see that capital
punishment is sucking all the money out of their state.
People commit crimes that are completely coldblooded however capital punishment is
not the correct way in punishing them because the justice system is not always completely
accurate, also capital punishment is unreasonable expensive lastly since we are all human and
should not have the right to end another person’s life. The judicial system wrongfully convicts a
large percentage of innocent people every year and also it is known to be harsh on their
sentencing based on race and social status of the defendant or the victim. Secondly capital
punishment is morally wrong, humans should not have the power judge a person on their actions
and decide whether they deserve to live or die. The death penalty fails to carry out two main
purposes of the justice system, rehabilitation and deterrence. Inmates on death row are changing
and taking responsibly for their actions only to be killed and never enter society again. As well
the death penalty is proven to not deter anyone from committing harsh crime like murder, rape,
torture people are going to do these actions no matter what the punishment is. Lastly the Death
penalty is financially draining; it consumes a millions of dollars for each convict on death row.
The money wasted on inmates in death row could be put to better use for a state and society. In a
form of retribution that is flawed in so many ways the government should take a second look at
what they are truly doing, murdering human beings and paying millions of dollars to do so. Even
though people commit truly unthinkably horrifying acts the ultimate form of punishment would
be to lock them up and live out the rest of their days alone living with the actions they have done.

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Work Cited
CNN Library. "Death Penalty Fast Facts." CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 17 Nov.
"Death Penalty and Race." Amnesty International USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.
"Death Penalty Cost." Amnesty International USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
Drehle, David Von. "The U.S. May Have A Lot of Innocent People on Death Row." Time. Time,
28 Apr. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.
"Helen Prejean Quotes." Helen Prejean Quotes (Author of Dead Man Walking). N.p., n.d. Web.
20 Nov. 2014.
Rade, M. "Facts about Deterrence and the Death Penalty." DPIC. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014
Ryan, Meghan J. "60 Second Summary: Death Penalty and Rehabilitaion." TGC. N.p., 02 Aug.
2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.
"The Governor Who Emptied Death Row." The Governor Who Emptied Death Row. N.p., n.d.
Web. 26 Nov. 2014.