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Why The Federal Government Must Abolish The Death Penalty

1339 words - 5 pages

The federal government has an obligation to make just laws. Currently, US laws allow for the death penalty for certain heinous crimes. The supporters argue that the 5th Amendment, which guarantees that no one shall be deprived of "life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” implies that depriving someone of his or her life is permissible under the constitution as long as there is due process. However, there are several reasons why the federal government must abolish the death penalty - it weakens US moral authority over other nations; there have been too many wrongful convictions for death penalty in the US; the death penalty is in conflict with the 8th amendment of the US constitution; and finally, the cost of death penalty prosecution compared to sentencing someone to life in prison is very high.
The United States is among the minority of nations that still practice capital punishment. Its support of the death penalty puts it in the company of nations which routinely violate human rights- countries such as China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In fact, United States is the only western democratic country that has not abolished the death penalty (http://karisable.com). Out of 195 nations in the world, 113 have outlawed capital punishment either in law or practice. Additionally, with the increasing number of executions, international organizations such as the European Union have expressed their deep concern about violation of human rights in the United States. Furthermore, Article 3 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the UN in 1948, prohibits the death penalty (http://www.amnestyusa.org). If we don’t follow the norms established across the community of nations, we stand to lose our moral authority when accusing other nations of violations of human rights. The US has trade agreements with other nations and our position is weakened on this front as well. The death penalty is a major barrier to negotiating an extradition treaty with a nation that does not support it. There are instances when other countries have refused extradition even when US has an extradition treaty with them (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org). Clearly, it is detrimental for the US to continue to use the death penalty.
In the last several years, too many people in the United States have been wrongfully sentenced with the death penalty. Several accused have their sentence overturned or they have been totally exonerated. There are at least 8 people who were executed by United States and later proven innocent (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org). Over a 20 year period, 68% of all death sentences were reversed (http://karisable.com). A noteworthy example is of Jerry Banks who was convicted and sentenced with the death penalty for two counts of murder in 1975. Five years later, in 1980, Banks' conviction was overturned on the basis of newly discovered evidence which was allegedly known to the state at the time of trial. Another example was the...

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