Abolishing the Death Penalty
When taking a human life in response to a crime, a state is acting on behalf of all of its citizens. Capital punishment is an expensive procedure with permanent ramifications. It is therefore very important that the matter of capital punishment be seriously reconsidered. In order to protect all of America's citizens, I recommend that congress approve a constitutional amendment that reads:
The states and the federal government shall not under any circumstances execute anyone. All prisoners currently under sentence of death shall have the right to a new trial.
The reasons for such an amendment include the inherent immorality of capital punishment, its inconsistent application and its unjustified costs.
The moral foundations followed today by nearly every nation were laid in 1949. With the horrors of World War II fresh in the minds of every government, nearly all of the world's nations sent delegates to San Francisco and formed the United Nations General Assembly to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These rights, it was reasoned, "are inherent in every human being. They are not privileges that may be granted by governments for good behavior and they may not be withdrawn for bad behavior" (Amnesty International 1). Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." This right to life cannot be abridged by any government because the treaty states it is one of the "inalienable rights of all members of the human family." Furthermore, Article 5 declares that no person shall be subjected to "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." It is not difficult to assume that killing someone is regarded as degrading. The death penalty is, therefore, immoral.
The reasoning behind the death penalty is without logic. The same rationale that prevents us from using torture or corporal punishment should apply to the death penalty as well. Amnesty International argues, "If today's penal systems do not sanction the burning of an arsonist's home, the rape of a rapist or the torture of a torturer, it is not because they tolerate the crimes" (Amnesty International 7). Reasoning that a murderer is deserving of death simply mirrors the criminal's behavior. Amnesty International says, "If administering 100 volts of electricity to the most sensitive parts of a man's body evokes disgust, what is the appropriate reaction to the administration of 2,000 volts to his body in order to kill him?" (Amnesty International 2). William J. Bowers observes, "Executions demonstrate that it is correct and appropriate to kill those who have gravely offended us" (274). In addition, it is impossible for a judge to administer justice to murderers of varying extremity in a just manner. How can we sentence a one-time homicide convict to death at the same time as a mass-murderer?
Another reason that the death penalty is immoral is that the various methods of...