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Objective Reasoning Against Capital Punishment Essay

864 words - 4 pages

“Off with their heads!” was the answer to most problems of the Queen of Hearts, a famous character from “Alice in Wonderland.”1 Capital punishment has always been a controversial topic with proponents of both sides presenting numerous arguments to support their positions. A large portion of these arguments are of a moral or ethical nature. Defenders of the death penalty claim that it is the only just sentence for those who have taken a life, that such people do not deserve to live, and that it invokes fear in potential killers, to list but a few. Opponents of this form of punishment believe that vengeance and retribution are morally wrong, that even murderers have the unalienable right to live, that the act itself is cruel and barbaric, and so forth. The major problem with these arguments is that they are highly subjective.
I believe that capital punishment should be abolished, but not for the subjective reasons just mentioned. It should be abolished because it is objectively ineffective. The purpose of the death penalty and incarceration in general, is to act as a deterrent, to prevent, or at least to reduce the frequency of a specific type of crime. However, sending criminals to death row has not been proven to decrease the number of homicides, and in some cases, data suggest that it has actually increased it. A survey in 2009 of the United States’ top criminological societies showed that “88.2% of the polled criminologists do not believe that the death penalty is a deterrent.”2 This repudiation is supported by the measurements of the homicide rates in states with capital punishment as opposed to those without. During the period from 2000 to 2009 the states which exercised the death penalty had between 35% and 44% higher murder rates than the states which had abolished it.3 Moreover, several prominent international organizations have reached the same conclusions. During its 65th session, the United Nations General Assembly stated that “there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty.”4 In addition, Amnesty International arrived at a similar conclusion, namely that “…research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment.”5 When you think about it, these statistics and studies make perfect sense – how can anyone expect to teach that killing is wrong by killing?
Capital punishment is not only ineffective, it is also inefficient. In most democratic countries, the process of sending a convict to death row is both slow...

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