The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished In America

1227 words - 5 pages

American colonies were introduced to the practice of capital punishment through European colonization. The offenses punishable by the death penalty in each colony varied from stealing to denying the existence of God. During the Age of Enlightenment from the mid 1600’s to the early 1800’s, western philosophers such as Ceasre Beccaria began to use reason over religion to debate societal values. In 1776, Beccaria wrote On Crimes and Punishment; in which he questioned the logic behind the death penalty and asserted numerous reasons for the abolishment of the death penalty. Beccaria’s foremost reason for eradicating capital punishment was that it lacked rationalism since killing the criminal would only serve as a brief reminder to society of the consequences of breaking laws; whereas lifelong imprisonment would serve as a constant reminder to society that the punishment for crime is permanent. Beccaria’s essay acted as the chief catalyst behind the widespread abolition movement against the death penalty. Currently, the debate over capital punishment rages on with fervor on both ends. Those in favor of capital punishment find it necessary in deterring future murders, punishing murders, and bringing closure to victims. Although their argument seems of sound mind however, after close analysis of history and statistical data, the death penalty is proven to be an improper way of punishing criminals.
Although the flaws of death penalty are lucid, they are often times over looked by society. Innocuous people have been ruled to death based upon mistaken eyewitness testimonies, mistaken identity, and false confessions through coercion. Former Governor of Illinois, George Ryan, was a staunch proponent of the death penalty for 23 years. However, after learning about 13 exonerations of people who were sentenced to death, Ryan converted into an opponent of capital punishment. Additionally, in 2003Ryan shed light on these flaws by granting pardons to 4 people who were tortured by the police and coerced into confessions of crimes they did not commit. These flaws in the death penalty have become coherent enough, that Day O’ Connor of the Supreme Court-which serves to interpret law- has rendered that “the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed” (Bedau and Cassell 154). Connor’s polemic is further exemplified in the case of Leonel Torres Herrera who was convicted of murdering two Texas police officers and sentenced to death. However, prior to him being executed, a lawyer came forward with Herrera’s brother, Raul’s affidavit which claimed it was him, not Leonel who committed murder. Despite the overwhelming evidence the Supreme Court refused a retrial. Herrera’s last words” Something very wrong is taking place here today […] I am innocent, innocent, innocent […]” (Williams 51) accentuates the cracks in our justice system.
Moreover, instead of acting as a deterring factor, the death penalty can act as a stimulating factor for future...

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