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An Arguement To Eradicate The Death Penalty

2378 words - 10 pages

Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson said, “the death penalty is essentially an arbitrary punishment. There are no objective rules or guidelines for when a prosecutor should seek the death penalty…This lack of objective, measurable standards ensures that the application of the death penalty will be discriminatory against racial, gender, and ethnic groups” The death penalty should no longer be used as a form of punishment due to its excessive cost and the fact that a defendants have been wrongfully executed in the past.
America’s use of the death penalty began in the 17th century when America was still under England’s rule. When capital punishment was first used as a form of punishment it was a punishment for “minor offenses such as stealing grapes, killing chickens, killing dogs or horses without permission, trading with Indians” (Reggio 2) and other trivial crimes. Over the next century the crimes that were punishable by the death penalty became more standardized and were used to punish criminals who committed “arson, piracy, treason, murder, sodomy, burglary, robbery, rape, horse-stealing, slave rebellion, and often counterfeiting” (Reggio 2). Although the crimes that were punishable by the death penalty were more standardize, there were not any laws restricting the death penalty to these crimes. During the 17th and 18th century slavery was rising. For this reason there was a racial bias not only on plantations but in the court room as well. While there were white men on death row the majority of the executions that took place were for black defendants. Additionally the Black Codes stated that slave owners were allowed to kill their slaves at their own will no matter how insignificant the crime (Wells 4). As a result, many black men were executed for minor offenses or for no reason at all. The first execution in America took place in Virginia in the year of 1608 to a man named George Kendall. Kendall was accused treason based on an eyewitness testimony. The first execution performed by hanging was also in Virginia in the year 1623. Daniel Frank was sentenced and hung for theft, a crime that is considered miniscule today. Even though many states have abolished the death penalty since the first execution four centuries ago the majority of states still use it today. Although America no longer executes a person for petty crimes such as theft or the killing of chickens, America still uses it as a form of punishment.
Despite popular belief, the total cost of a death penalty case exceeds the cost of a case where the offender is sentenced to life in prison. The death penalty is more costly even though it is ineffective. The purpose of instating capital punishment is to set an example in order to scare others away from committing a crime with the ultimate goal of lowering crime rates. A study done in 2011 indicates that “the average murder rate in states with the death penalty… was 4.9 per 100,000. In states without it, the murder rate was 4.1 per...

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