I am vehemently opposed to the death penalty. I find it a barbaric practice that has no place in the 21st century. There are several reasons that I am against this vile practice, but the main reason is that there is a very real possibility that an innocent person may be wrongly executed.
We all know that the judicial system is not foolproof, we often hear of people who are released from prison when new evidence comes up that proves them innocent. While imprisoning an innocent person is a terrible form of injustice, killing such a person is, IMHO, a crime.
It is, essentially, state-sanctioned murder. I was reminded by the Davis Troy saga of this fact. Leaving aside the racial aspects of the case, when there is doubt about the guilt of a person, it is a crime to execute him/her. Because while you can release a wrongly accused person from prison, you cannot resurrect a person you have wrongly executed.
There are other reasons that I find the death penalty deplorable. For example, many people seem to argue that the death penalty is a suitable punishment for murder. I really do not see how this is the case. I find it laughable, in a sad sort of way, that people see the death penalty as a “lesson” to society against murder. Really? You are using a form of murder to argue against murder? The actual message you are sending to society is that it is OK to murder someone if you think you have enough justification and/or can get paperwork from the state to support your crime.
Another argument that I find rather weak, is that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime. I haven’t actually read any studies supporting or opposing this view, but comparing crime rates in countries that implement the death penalty to crime rates in countries that do not implement the death penalty seems to paint a different picture.
For example, the US has one of the highest crime rates in the developed world. Yet it is one of the few developed countries that still apply the death penalty. By comparison, European countries have extremely low crime rates, and none of them implement the death penalty. I don’t know how much of this is related to the difference in culture between Europe and America, but it proves one thing; the death penalty is not the only tool that can bring down crime. There are other ways to do this without resorting to this barbaric practice.
Finally, some people argue that the death penalty is the only way to protect society by eliminating criminals from our midst. This is patently untrue. It is only true in countries where “life” sentences are not really life sentences, but long periods of time during which a prisoner can become eligible for parole. Crimes that are currently considered capital offenses should be punished by life, until the person dies, in prison, with no parole. That way, you remove a dangerous person from society and you do not run the risk of killing an innocent individual.
People argue that this is not economical, that the cost of keeping people in prison for such extended periods is too much and it would be cheaper to execute them. To that I answer: shame on you. Human life is not a commodity that can be assigned a dollar value. Any self respecting human being should not have a problem with paying more to ensure that innocent people are not killed.
I really hope that this vile practice is eliminated from the legal systems of all countries. The death penalty is not a just punishment for crimes, it is cruel and unusual. It is more revenge than justice.