Round Separator

Arguments for and Against the Death Penalty

Click the buttons below to view arguments and testimony on each topic.

The death penalty deters future murders.

Society has always used punishment to discourage would-be criminals from unlawful action. Since society has the highest interest in preventing murder, it should use the strongest punishment available to deter murder, and that is the death penalty. If murderers are sentenced to death and executed, potential murderers will think twice before killing for fear of losing their own life.

For years, criminologists analyzed murder rates to see if they fluctuated with the likelihood of convicted murderers being executed, but the results were inconclusive. Then in 1973 Isaac Ehrlich employed a new kind of analysis which produced results showing that for every inmate who was executed, 7 lives were spared because others were deterred from committing murder. Similar results have been produced by disciples of Ehrlich in follow-up studies.

Moreover, even if some studies regarding deterrence are inconclusive, that is only because the death penalty is rarely used and takes years before an execution is actually carried out. Punishments which are swift and sure are the best deterrent. The fact that some states or countries which do not use the death penalty have lower murder rates than jurisdictions which do is not evidence of the failure of deterrence. States with high murder rates would have even higher rates if they did not use the death penalty.

Ernest van den Haag, a Professor of Jurisprudence at Fordham University who has studied the question of deterrence closely, wrote: “Even though statistical demonstrations are not conclusive, and perhaps cannot be, capital punishment is likely to deter more than other punishments because people fear death more than anything else. They fear most death deliberately inflicted by law and scheduled by the courts. Whatever people fear most is likely to deter most. Hence, the threat of the death penalty may deter some murderers who otherwise might not have been deterred. And surely the death penalty is the only penalty that could deter prisoners already serving a life sentence and tempted to kill a guard, or offenders about to be arrested and facing a life sentence. Perhaps they will not be deterred. But they would certainly not be deterred by anything else. We owe all the protection we can give to law enforcers exposed to special risks.”

Finally, the death penalty certainly “deters” the murderer who is executed. Strictly speaking, this is a form of incapacitation, similar to the way a robber put in prison is prevented from robbing on the streets. Vicious murderers must be killed to prevent them from murdering again, either in prison, or in society if they should get out. Both as a deterrent and as a form of permanent incapacitation, the death penalty helps to prevent future crime.

Those who believe that deterrence justifies the execution of certain offenders bear the burden of proving that the death penalty is a deterrent. The overwhelming conclusion from years of deterrence studies is that the death penalty is, at best, no more of a deterrent than a sentence of life in prison. The Ehrlich studies have been widely discredited. In fact, some criminologists, such as William Bowers of Northeastern University, maintain that the death penalty has the opposite effect: that is, society is brutalized by the use of the death penalty, and this increases the likelihood of more murder. Even most supporters of the death penalty now place little or no weight on deterrence as a serious justification for its continued use.

States in the United States that do not employ the death penalty generally have lower murder rates than states that do. The same is true when the U.S. is compared to countries similar to it. The U.S., with the death penalty, has a higher murder rate than the countries of Europe or Canada, which do not use the death penalty.

The death penalty is not a deterrent because most people who commit murders either do not expect to be caught or do not carefully weigh the differences between a possible execution and life in prison before they act. Frequently, murders are committed in moments of passion or anger, or by criminals who are substance abusers and acted impulsively. As someone who presided over many of Texas’s executions, former Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox has remarked, “It is my own experience that those executed in Texas were not deterred by the existence of the death penalty law. I think in most cases you’ll find that the murder was committed under severe drug and alcohol abuse.”

There is no conclusive proof that the death penalty acts as a better deterrent than the threat of life imprisonment. A 2012 report released by the prestigious National Research Council of the National Academies and based on a review of more than three decades of research, concluded that studies claiming a deterrent effect on murder rates from the death penalty are fundamentally flawed. A survey of the former and present presidents of the country’s top academic criminological societies found that 84% of these experts rejected the notion that research had demonstrated any deterrent effect from the death penalty .

Once in prison, those serving life sentences often settle into a routine and are less of a threat to commit violence than other prisoners. Moreover, most states now have a sentence of life without parole. Prisoners who are given this sentence will never be released. Thus, the safety of society can be assured without using the death penalty.

Ernest van den Haag Professor of Jurisprudence and Public Policy, Fordham University. Excerpts from ” The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense,” (Harvard Law Review Association, 1986)

“Execution of those who have committed heinous murders may deter only one murder per year. If it does, it seems quite warranted. It is also the only fitting retribution for murder I can think of.”

“Most abolitionists acknowledge that they would continue to favor abolition even if the death penalty were shown to deter more murders than alternatives could deter. Abolitionists appear to value the life of a convicted murderer or, at least, his non-execution, more highly than they value the lives of the innocent victims who might be spared by deterring prospective murderers.

Deterrence is not altogether decisive for me either. I would favor retention of the death penalty as retribution even if it were shown that the threat of execution could not deter prospective murderers not already deterred by the threat of imprisonment. Still, I believe the death penalty, because of its finality, is more feared than imprisonment, and deters some prospective murderers not deterred by the thought of imprisonment. Sparing the lives of even a few prospective victims by deterring their murderers is more important than preserving the lives of convicted murderers because of the possibility, or even the probability, that executing them would not deter others. Whereas the life of the victims who might be saved are valuable, that of the murderer has only negative value, because of his crime. Surely the criminal law is meant to protect the lives of potential victims in preference to those of actual murderers.”

“We threaten punishments in order to deter crime. We impose them not only to make the threats credible but also as retribution (justice) for the crimes that were not deterred. Threats and punishments are necessary to deter and deterrence is a sufficient practical justification for them. Retribution is an independent moral justification. Although penalties can be unwise, repulsive, or inappropriate, and those punished can be pitiable, in a sense the infliction of legal punishment on a guilty person cannot be unjust. By committing the crime, the criminal volunteered to assume the risk of receiving a legal punishment that he could have avoided by not committing the crime. The punishment he suffers is the punishment he voluntarily risked suffering and, therefore, it is no more unjust to him than any other event for which one knowingly volunteers to assume the risk. Thus, the death penalty cannot be unjust to the guilty criminal.”

Full text can be found at .

Hugo Adam Bedau (deceased) Austin Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, Tufts University Excerpts from “The Case Against The Death Penalty” (Copyright 1997, American Civil Liberties Union)

“Persons who commit murder and other crimes of personal violence either may or may not premeditate their crimes.

When crime is planned, the criminal ordinarily concentrates on escaping detection, arrest, and conviction. The threat of even the severest punishment will not discourage those who expect to escape detection and arrest. It is impossible to imagine how the threat of any punishment could prevent a crime that is not premeditated….

Most capital crimes are committed in the heat of the moment. Most capital crimes are committed during moments of great emotional stress or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, when logical thinking has been suspended. In such cases, violence is inflicted by persons heedless of the consequences to themselves as well as to others….

If, however, severe punishment can deter crime, then long-term imprisonment is severe enough to deter any rational person from committing a violent crime.

The vast preponderance of the evidence shows that the death penalty is no more effective than imprisonment in deterring murder and that it may even be an incitement to criminal violence. Death-penalty states as a group do not have lower rates of criminal homicide than non-death-penalty states….

On-duty police officers do not suffer a higher rate of criminal assault and homicide in abolitionist states than they do in death-penalty states. Between l973 and l984, for example, lethal assaults against police were not significantly more, or less, frequent in abolitionist states than in death-penalty states. There is ‘no support for the view that the death penalty provides a more effective deterrent to police homicides than alternative sanctions. Not for a single year was evidence found that police are safer in jurisdictions that provide for capital punishment.’ (Bailey and Peterson, Criminology (1987))

Prisoners and prison personnel do not suffer a higher rate of criminal assault and homicide from life-term prisoners in abolition states than they do in death-penalty states. Between 1992 and 1995, 176 inmates were murdered by other prisoners; the vast majority (84%) were killed in death penalty jurisdictions. During the same period about 2% of all assaults on prison staff were committed by inmates in abolition jurisdictions. Evidently, the threat of the death penalty ‘does not even exert an incremental deterrent effect over the threat of a lesser punishment in the abolitionist states.’ (Wolfson, in Bedau, ed., The Death Penalty in America, 3rd ed. (1982))

Actual experience thus establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the death penalty does not deter murder. No comparable body of evidence contradicts that conclusion.”

Click here for the full text from the ACLU website.


A just society requires the taking of a life for a life.

When someone takes a life, the balance of justice is disturbed. Unless that balance is restored, society succumbs to a rule of violence. Only the taking of the murderer’s life restores the balance and allows society to show convincingly that murder is an intolerable crime which will be punished in kind.

Retribution has its basis in religious values, which have historically maintained that it is proper to take an “eye for an eye” and a life for a life.

Although the victim and the victim’s family cannot be restored to the status which preceded the murder, at least an execution brings closure to the murderer’s crime (and closure to the ordeal for the victim’s family) and ensures that the murderer will create no more victims.

For the most cruel and heinous crimes, the ones for which the death penalty is applied, offenders deserve the worst punishment under our system of law, and that is the death penalty. Any lesser punishment would undermine the value society places on protecting lives.

Robert Macy, District Attorney of Oklahoma City, described his concept of the need for retribution in one case: “In 1991, a young mother was rendered helpless and made to watch as her baby was executed. The mother was then mutilated and killed. The killer should not lie in some prison with three meals a day, clean sheets, cable TV, family visits and endless appeals. For justice to prevail, some killers just need to die.”

Retribution is another word for revenge. Although our first instinct may be to inflict immediate pain on someone who wrongs us, the standards of a mature society demand a more measured response.

The emotional impulse for revenge is not a sufficient justification for invoking a system of capital punishment, with all its accompanying problems and risks. Our laws and criminal justice system should lead us to higher principles that demonstrate a complete respect for life, even the life of a murderer. Encouraging our basest motives of revenge, which ends in another killing, extends the chain of violence. Allowing executions sanctions killing as a form of ‘pay-back.’

Many victims’ families denounce the use of the death penalty. Using an execution to try to right the wrong of their loss is an affront to them and only causes more pain. For example, Bud Welch’s daughter, Julie, was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Although his first reaction was to wish that those who committed this terrible crime be killed, he ultimately realized that such killing “is simply vengeance; and it was vengeance that killed Julie…. Vengeance is a strong and natural emotion. But it has no place in our justice system.”

The notion of an eye for an eye, or a life for a life, is a simplistic one which our society has never endorsed. We do not allow torturing the torturer, or raping the rapist. Taking the life of a murderer is a similarly disproportionate punishment, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. executes only a small percentage of those convicted of murder, and these defendants are typically not the worst offenders but merely the ones with the fewest resources to defend themselves.

Louis P. Pojman Author and Professor of Philosophy, U.S. Military Academy. Excerpt from “The Death Penalty: For and Against,” (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1998)

“[Opponents of the capital punishment often put forth the following argument:] Perhaps the murderer deserves to die, but what authority does the state have to execute him or her? Both the Old and New Testament says, “’Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Prov. 25:21 and Romans 12:19). You need special authority to justify taking the life of a human being.

The objector fails to note that the New Testament passage continues with a support of the right of the state to execute criminals in the name of God: “Let every person be subjected to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment…. If you do wrong, be afraid, for [the authority] does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13: 1-4). So, according to the Bible, the authority to punish, which presumably includes the death penalty, comes from God.

But we need not appeal to a religious justification for capital punishment. We can site the state’s role in dispensing justice. Just as the state has the authority (and duty) to act justly in allocating scarce resources, in meeting minimal needs of its (deserving) citizens, in defending its citizens from violence and crime, and in not waging unjust wars; so too does it have the authority, flowing from its mission to promote justice and the good of its people, to punish the criminal. If the criminal, as one who has forfeited a right to life, deserves to be executed, especially if it will likely deter would-be murderers, the state has a duty to execute those convicted of first-degree murder.”

National Council of Synagogues and the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Excerpts from “To End the Death Penalty: A Report of the National Jewish/Catholic Consultation” (December, 1999)

“Some would argue that the death penalty is needed as a means of retributive justice, to balance out the crime with the punishment. This reflects a natural concern of society, and especially of victims and their families. Yet we believe that we are called to seek a higher road even while punishing the guilty, for example through long and in some cases life-long incarceration, so that the healing of all can ultimately take place.

Some would argue that the death penalty will teach society at large the seriousness of crime. Yet we say that teaching people to respond to violence with violence will, again, only breed more violence.

The strongest argument of all [in favor of the death penalty] is the deep pain and grief of the families of victims, and their quite natural desire to see punishment meted out to those who have plunged them into such agony. Yet it is the clear teaching of our traditions that this pain and suffering cannot be healed simply through the retribution of capital punishment or by vengeance. It is a difficult and long process of healing which comes about through personal growth and God’s grace. We agree that much more must be done by the religious community and by society at large to solace and care for the grieving families of the victims of violent crime.

Recent statements of the Reform and Conservative movements in Judaism, and of the U.S. Catholic Conference sum up well the increasingly strong convictions shared by Jews and Catholics…:

‘Respect for all human life and opposition to the violence in our society are at the root of our long-standing opposition (as bishops) to the death penalty. We see the death penalty as perpetuating a cycle of violence and promoting a sense of vengeance in our culture. As we said in Confronting the Culture of Violence: ‘We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing.’ We oppose capital punishment not just for what it does to those guilty of horrible crimes, but for what it does to all of us as a society. Increasing reliance on the death penalty diminishes all of us and is a sign of growing disrespect for human life. We cannot overcome crime by simply executing criminals, nor can we restore the lives of the innocent by ending the lives of those convicted of their murders. The death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life.’1

We affirm that we came to these conclusions because of our shared understanding of the sanctity of human life. We have committed ourselves to work together, and each within our own communities, toward ending the death penalty.” Endnote 1. Statement of the Administrative Committee of the United States Catholic Conference, March 24, 1999.

The risk of executing the innocent precludes the use of the death penalty.

The death penalty alone imposes an irrevocable sentence. Once an inmate is executed, nothing can be done to make amends if a mistake has been made. There is considerable evidence that many mistakes have been made in sentencing people to death. Since 1973, over 180 people have been released from death row after evidence of their innocence emerged. During the same period of time, over 1,500 people have been executed. Thus, for every 8.3 people executed, we have found one person on death row who never should have been convicted. These statistics represent an intolerable risk of executing the innocent. If an automobile manufacturer operated with similar failure rates, it would be run out of business.

Our capital punishment system is unreliable. A study by Columbia University Law School found that two thirds of all capital trials contained serious errors. When the cases were retried, over 80% of the defendants were not sentenced to death and 7% were completely acquitted.

Many of the releases of innocent defendants from death row came about as a result of factors outside of the justice system. Recently, journalism students in Illinois were assigned to investigate the case of a man who was scheduled to be executed, after the system of appeals had rejected his legal claims. The students discovered that one witness had lied at the original trial, and they were able to find another man, who confessed to the crime on videotape and was later convicted of the murder. The innocent man who was released was very fortunate, but he was spared because of the informal efforts of concerned citizens, not because of the justice system.

In other cases, DNA testing has exonerated death row inmates. Here, too, the justice system had concluded that these defendants were guilty and deserving of the death penalty. DNA testing became available only in the early 1990s, due to advancements in science. If this testing had not been discovered until ten years later, many of these inmates would have been executed. And if DNA testing had been applied to earlier cases where inmates were executed in the 1970s and 80s, the odds are high that it would have proven that some of them were innocent as well.

Society takes many risks in which innocent lives can be lost. We build bridges, knowing that statistically some workers will be killed during construction; we take great precautions to reduce the number of unintended fatalities. But wrongful executions are a preventable risk. By substituting a sentence of life without parole, we meet society’s needs of punishment and protection without running the risk of an erroneous and irrevocable punishment.

There is no proof that any innocent person has actually been executed since increased safeguards and appeals were added to our death penalty system in the 1970s. Even if such executions have occurred, they are very rare. Imprisoning innocent people is also wrong, but we cannot empty the prisons because of that minimal risk. If improvements are needed in the system of representation, or in the use of scientific evidence such as DNA testing, then those reforms should be instituted. However, the need for reform is not a reason to abolish the death penalty.

Besides, many of the claims of innocence by those who have been released from death row are actually based on legal technicalities. Just because someone’s conviction is overturned years later and the prosecutor decides not to retry him, does not mean he is actually innocent.

If it can be shown that someone is innocent, surely a governor would grant clemency and spare the person. Hypothetical claims of innocence are usually just delaying tactics to put off the execution as long as possible. Given our thorough system of appeals through numerous state and federal courts, the execution of an innocent individual today is almost impossible. Even the theoretical execution of an innocent person can be justified because the death penalty saves lives by deterring other killings.

Gerald Kogan, Former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Excerpts from a speech given in Orlando, Florida, October 23, 1999 “[T]here is no question in my mind, and I can tell you this having seen the dynamics of our criminal justice system over the many years that I have been associated with it, [as] prosecutor, defense attorney, trial judge and Supreme Court Justice, that convinces me that we certainly have, in the past, executed those people who either didn’t fit the criteria for execution in the State of Florida or who, in fact, were, factually, not guilty of the crime for which they have been executed.

“And you can make these statements when you understand the dynamics of the criminal justice system, when you understand how the State makes deals with more culpable defendants in a capital case, offers them light sentences in exchange for their testimony against another participant or, in some cases, in fact, gives them immunity from prosecution so that they can secure their testimony; the use of jailhouse confessions, like people who say, ‘I was in the cell with so-and-so and they confessed to me,’ or using those particular confessions, the validity of which there has been great doubt. And yet, you see the uneven application of the death penalty where, in many instances, those that are the most culpable escape death and those that are the least culpable are victims of the death penalty. These things begin to weigh very heavily upon you. And under our system, this is the system we have. And that is, we are human beings administering an imperfect system.”

“And how about those people who are still sitting on death row today, who may be factually innocent but cannot prove their particular case very simply because there is no DNA evidence in their case that can be used to exonerate them? Of course, in most cases, you’re not going to have that kind of DNA evidence, so there is no way and there is no hope for them to be saved from what may be one of the biggest mistakes that our society can make.”

The entire speech by Justice Kogan is available here.

Paul G. Cassell Associate Professor of Law, University of Utah, College of Law, and former law clerk to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. Statement before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights Concerning Claims of Innocence in Capital Cases (July 23, 1993)

“Given the fallibility of human judgments, the possibility exists that the use of capital punishment may result in the execution of an innocent person. The Senate Judiciary Committee has previously found this risk to be ‘minimal,’ a view shared by numerous scholars. As Justice Powell has noted commenting on the numerous state capital cases that have come before the Supreme Court, the ‘unprecedented safeguards’ already inherent in capital sentencing statutes ‘ensure a degree of care in the imposition of the sentence of death that can only be described as unique.’”

“Our present system of capital punishment limits the ultimate penalty to certain specifically-defined crimes and even then, permit the penalty of death only when the jury finds that the aggravating circumstances in the case outweigh all mitigating circumstances. The system further provides judicial review of capital cases. Finally, before capital sentences are carried out, the governor or other executive official will review the sentence to insure that it is a just one, a determination that undoubtedly considers the evidence of the condemned defendant’s guilt. Once all of those decisionmakers have agreed that a death sentence is appropriate, innocent lives would be lost from failure to impose the sentence.”

“Capital sentences, when carried out, save innocent lives by permanently incapacitating murderers. Some persons who commit capital homicide will slay other innocent persons if given the opportunity to do so. The death penalty is the most effective means of preventing such killers from repeating their crimes. The next most serious penalty, life imprisonment without possibility of parole, prevents murderers from committing some crimes but does not prevent them from murdering in prison.”

“The mistaken release of guilty murderers should be of far greater concern than the speculative and heretofore nonexistent risk of the mistaken execution of an innocent person.”

Full text can be found here.

Arbitrariness & Discrimination

The death penalty is applied unfairly and should not be used.

In practice, the death penalty does not single out the worst offenders. Rather, it selects an arbitrary group based on such irrational factors as the quality of the defense counsel, the county in which the crime was committed, or the race of the defendant or victim.

Almost all defendants facing the death penalty cannot afford their own attorney. Hence, they are dependent on the quality of the lawyers assigned by the state, many of whom lack experience in capital cases or are so underpaid that they fail to investigate the case properly. A poorly represented defendant is much more likely to be convicted and given a death sentence.

With respect to race, studies have repeatedly shown that a death sentence is far more likely where a white person is murdered than where a Black person is murdered. The death penalty is racially divisive because it appears to count white lives as more valuable than Black lives. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 296 Black defendants have been executed for the murder of a white victim, while only 31 white defendants have been executed for the murder of a Black victim. Such racial disparities have existed over the history of the death penalty and appear to be largely intractable.

It is arbitrary when someone in one county or state receives the death penalty, but someone who commits a comparable crime in another county or state is given a life sentence. Prosecutors have enormous discretion about when to seek the death penalty and when to settle for a plea bargain. Often those who can only afford a minimal defense are selected for the death penalty. Until race and other arbitrary factors, like economics and geography, can be eliminated as a determinant of who lives and who dies, the death penalty must not be used.

Discretion has always been an essential part of our system of justice. No one expects the prosecutor to pursue every possible offense or punishment, nor do we expect the same sentence to be imposed just because two crimes appear similar. Each crime is unique, both because the circumstances of each victim are different and because each defendant is different. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a mandatory death penalty which applied to everyone convicted of first degree murder would be unconstitutional. Hence, we must give prosecutors and juries some discretion.

In fact, more white people are executed in this country than black people. And even if blacks are disproportionately represented on death row, proportionately blacks commit more murders than whites. Moreover, the Supreme Court has rejected the use of statistical studies which claim racial bias as the sole reason for overturning a death sentence.

Even if the death penalty punishes some while sparing others, it does not follow that everyone should be spared. The guilty should still be punished appropriately, even if some do escape proper punishment unfairly. The death penalty should apply to killers of black people as well as to killers of whites. High paid, skillful lawyers should not be able to get some defendants off on technicalities. The existence of some systemic problems is no reason to abandon the whole death penalty system.

Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. President and Chief Executive Officer, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Inc. Excerpt from “Legal Lynching: Racism, Injustice & the Death Penalty,” (Marlowe & Company, 1996)

“Who receives the death penalty has less to do with the violence of the crime than with the color of the criminal’s skin, or more often, the color of the victim’s skin. Murder — always tragic — seems to be a more heinous and despicable crime in some states than in others. Women who kill and who are killed are judged by different standards than are men who are murderers and victims.

The death penalty is essentially an arbitrary punishment. There are no objective rules or guidelines for when a prosecutor should seek the death penalty, when a jury should recommend it, and when a judge should give it. This lack of objective, measurable standards ensures that the application of the death penalty will be discriminatory against racial, gender, and ethnic groups.

The majority of Americans who support the death penalty believe, or wish to believe, that legitimate factors such as the violence and cruelty with which the crime was committed, a defendant’s culpability or history of violence, and the number of victims involved determine who is sentenced to life in prison and who receives the ultimate punishment. The numbers, however, tell a different story. They confirm the terrible truth that bias and discrimination warp our nation’s judicial system at the very time it matters most — in matters of life and death. The factors that determine who will live and who will die — race, sex, and geography — are the very same ones that blind justice was meant to ignore. This prejudicial distribution should be a moral outrage to every American.”

Justice Lewis Powell United States Supreme Court Justice excerpts from McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279 (1987) (footnotes and citations omitted)

(Mr. McCleskey, a black man, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1978 for killing a white police officer while robbing a store. Mr. McCleskey appealed his conviction and death sentence, claiming racial discrimination in the application of Georgia’s death penalty. He presented statistical analysis showing a pattern of sentencing disparities based primarily on the race of the victim. The analysis indicated that black defendants who killed white victims had the greatest likelihood of receiving the death penalty. Writing the majority opinion for the Supreme Court, Justice Powell held that statistical studies on race by themselves were an insufficient basis for overturning the death penalty.)

“[T]he claim that [t]his sentence rests on the irrelevant factor of race easily could be extended to apply to claims based on unexplained discrepancies that correlate to membership in other minority groups, and even to gender. Similarly, since [this] claim relates to the race of his victim, other claims could apply with equally logical force to statistical disparities that correlate with the race or sex of other actors in the criminal justice system, such as defense attorneys or judges. Also, there is no logical reason that such a claim need be limited to racial or sexual bias. If arbitrary and capricious punishment is the touchstone under the Eighth Amendment, such a claim could — at least in theory — be based upon any arbitrary variable, such as the defendant’s facial characteristics, or the physical attractiveness of the defendant or the victim, that some statistical study indicates may be influential in jury decision making. As these examples illustrate, there is no limiting principle to the type of challenge brought by McCleskey. The Constitution does not require that a State eliminate any demonstrable disparity that correlates with a potentially irrelevant factor in order to operate a criminal justice system that includes capital punishment. As we have stated specifically in the context of capital punishment, the Constitution does not ‘plac[e] totally unrealistic conditions on its use.’ (Gregg v. Georgia)”

The entire decision can be found here.

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Should the Death Penalty Be Abolished?

In its last six months, the United States government has put 13 prisoners to death. Do you think capital punishment should end?

pros of death penalty essay

By Nicole Daniels

Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.

In July, the United States carried out its first federal execution in 17 years. Since then, the Trump administration has executed 13 inmates, more than three times as many as the federal government had in the previous six decades.

The death penalty has been abolished in 22 states and 106 countries, yet it is still legal at the federal level in the United States. Does your state or country allow the death penalty?

Do you believe governments should be allowed to execute people who have been convicted of crimes? Is it ever justified, such as for the most heinous crimes? Or are you universally opposed to capital punishment?

In “ ‘Expedited Spree of Executions’ Faced Little Supreme Court Scrutiny ,” Adam Liptak writes about the recent federal executions:

In 2015, a few months before he died, Justice Antonin Scalia said he w o uld not be surprised if the Supreme Court did away with the death penalty. These days, after President Trump’s appointment of three justices, liberal members of the court have lost all hope of abolishing capital punishment. In the face of an extraordinary run of federal executions over the past six months, they have been left to wonder whether the court is prepared to play any role in capital cases beyond hastening executions. Until July, there had been no federal executions in 17 years . Since then, the Trump administration has executed 13 inmates, more than three times as many as the federal government had put to death in the previous six decades.

The article goes on to explain that Justice Stephen G. Breyer issued a dissent on Friday as the Supreme Court cleared the way for the last execution of the Trump era, complaining that it had not sufficiently resolved legal questions that inmates had asked. The article continues:

If Justice Breyer sounded rueful, it was because he had just a few years ago held out hope that the court would reconsider the constitutionality of capital punishment. He had set out his arguments in a major dissent in 2015 , one that must have been on Justice Scalia’s mind when he made his comments a few months later. Justice Breyer wrote in that 46-page dissent that he considered it “highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment,” which bars cruel and unusual punishments. He said that death row exonerations were frequent, that death sentences were imposed arbitrarily and that the capital justice system was marred by racial discrimination. Justice Breyer added that there was little reason to think that the death penalty deterred crime and that long delays between sentences and executions might themselves violate the Eighth Amendment. Most of the country did not use the death penalty, he said, and the United States was an international outlier in embracing it. Justice Ginsburg, who died in September, had joined the dissent. The two other liberals — Justices Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — were undoubtedly sympathetic. And Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who held the decisive vote in many closely divided cases until his retirement in 2018, had written the majority opinions in several 5-to-4 decisions that imposed limits on the death penalty, including ones barring the execution of juvenile offenders and people convicted of crimes other than murder .

In the July Opinion essay “ The Death Penalty Can Ensure ‘Justice Is Being Done,’ ” Jeffrey A. Rosen, then acting deputy attorney general, makes a legal case for capital punishment:

The death penalty is a difficult issue for many Americans on moral, religious and policy grounds. But as a legal issue, it is straightforward. The United States Constitution expressly contemplates “capital” crimes, and Congress has authorized the death penalty for serious federal offenses since President George Washington signed the Crimes Act of 1790. The American people have repeatedly ratified that decision, including through the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 signed by President Bill Clinton, the federal execution of Timothy McVeigh under President George W. Bush and the decision by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department to seek the death penalty against the Boston Marathon bomber and Dylann Roof.

Students, read the entire article , then tell us:

Do you support the use of capital punishment? Or do you think it should be abolished? Why?

Do you think the death penalty serves a necessary purpose, like deterring crime, providing relief for victims’ families or imparting justice? Or is capital punishment “cruel and unusual” and therefore prohibited by the Constitution? Is it morally wrong?

Are there alternatives to the death penalty that you think would be more appropriate? For example, is life in prison without the possibility of parole a sufficient sentence? Or is that still too harsh? What about restorative justice , an approach that “considers harm done and strives for agreement from all concerned — the victims, the offender and the community — on making amends”? What other ideas do you have?

Vast racial disparities in the administration of the death penalty have been found. For example, Black people are overrepresented on death row, and a recent study found that “defendants convicted of killing white victims were executed at a rate 17 times greater than those convicted of killing Black victims.” Does this information change or reinforce your opinion of capital punishment? How so?

The Federal Death Penalty Act prohibits the government from executing an inmate who is mentally disabled; however, in the recent executions of Corey Johnson , Alfred Bourgeois and Lisa Montgomery , their defense teams, families and others argued that they had intellectual disabilities. What role do you think disability or trauma history should play in how someone is punished, or rehabilitated, after committing a crime?

How concerned should we be about wrongfully convicted people being executed? The Innocence Project has proved the innocence of 18 people on death row who were exonerated by DNA testing. Do you have worries about the fair application of the death penalty, or about the possibility of the criminal justice system executing an innocent person?

About Student Opinion

• Find all of our Student Opinion questions in this column . • Have an idea for a Student Opinion question? Tell us about it . • Learn more about how to use our free daily writing prompts for remote learning .

Students 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

Nicole Daniels joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2019 after working in museum education, curriculum writing and bilingual education. More about Nicole Daniels

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  • Most Americans Favor the Death Penalty Despite Concerns About Its Administration

78% say there is some risk of innocent people being put to death

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  • Acknowledgments
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Pew Research Center conducted this study to better understand Americans’ views about the death penalty. For this analysis, we surveyed 5,109 U.S. adults from April 5 to 11, 2021. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology .

Here are the questions used for the report, along with responses, and its methodology .

The use of the death penalty is gradually disappearing in the United States. Last year, in part because of the coronavirus outbreak, fewer people were executed than in any year in nearly three decades .

Chart shows majority of Americans favor death penalty, but nearly eight-in-ten see ‘some risk’ of executing the innocent

Yet the death penalty for people convicted of murder continues to draw support from a majority of Americans despite widespread doubts about its administration, fairness and whether it deters serious crimes.

More Americans favor than oppose the death penalty: 60% of U.S. adults favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, including 27% who strongly favor it. About four-in-ten (39%) oppose the death penalty, with 15% strongly opposed, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The survey, conducted April 5-11 among 5,109 U.S. adults on the Center’s American Trends Panel, finds that support for the death penalty is 5 percentage points lower than it was in August 2020, when 65% said they favored the death penalty for people convicted of murder.

Chart shows since 2019, modest changes in views of the death penalty

While public support for the death penalty has changed only modestly in recent years, support for the death penalty declined substantially between the late 1990s and the 2010s. (See “Death penalty draws more Americans’ support online than in telephone surveys” for more on long-term measures and the challenge of comparing views across different survey modes.)

Large shares of Americans express concerns over how the death penalty is administered and are skeptical about whether it deters people from committing serious crimes.

Nearly eight-in-ten (78%) say there is some risk that an innocent person will be put to death, while only 21% think there are adequate safeguards in place to prevent that from happening. Only 30% of death penalty supporters – and just 6% of opponents – say adequate safeguards exist to prevent innocent people from being executed.

A majority of Americans (56%) say Black people are more likely than White people to be sentenced to the death penalty for being convicted of serious crimes. This view is particularly widespread among Black adults: 85% of Black adults say Black people are more likely than Whites to receive the death penalty for being convicted of similar crimes (61% of Hispanic adults and 49% of White adults say this).

Moreover, more than six-in-ten Americans (63%), including about half of death penalty supporters (48%), say the death penalty does not deter people from committing serious crimes.

Yet support for the death penalty is strongly associated with a belief that when someone commits murder, the death penalty is morally justified. Among the public overall, 64% say the death penalty is morally justified in cases of murder, while 33% say it is not justified. An overwhelming share of death penalty supporters (90%) say it is morally justified under such circumstances, compared with 25% of death penalty opponents.

Chart shows greater support for death penalty in online panel surveys than telephone surveys

The data in the most recent survey, collected from Pew Research Center’s online American Trends Panel (ATP) , finds that 60% of Americans favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. Over four ATP surveys conducted since September 2019, there have been relatively modest shifts in these views – from a low of 60% seen in the most recent survey to a high of 65% seen in September 2019 and August 2020.

In Pew Research Center phone surveys conducted between September 2019 and August 2020 (with field periods nearly identical to the online surveys), support for the death penalty was significantly lower: 55% favored the death penalty in September 2019, 53% in January 2020 and 52% in August 2020. The consistency of this difference points to substantial mode effects on this question. As a result, survey results from recent online surveys are not directly comparable with past years’ telephone survey trends. A post accompanying this report provides further detail and analysis of the mode differences seen on this question. And for more on mode effects and the transition from telephone surveys to online panel surveys, see “What our transition to online polling means for decades of phone survey trends” and “Trends are a cornerstone of public opinion research. How do we continue to track changes in public opinion when there’s a shift in survey mode?”

Partisanship continues to be a major factor in support for the death penalty and opinions about its administration. Just over three-quarters of Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party (77%) say they favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder, including 40% who strongly favor it.

Democrats and Democratic leaners are more divided on this issue: 46% favor the death penalty, while 53% are opposed. About a quarter of Democrats (23%) strongly oppose the death penalty, compared with 17% who strongly favor it.

Over the past two years, the share of Republicans who say they favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder has decreased slightly – by 7 percentage points – while the share of Democrats who say this is essentially unchanged (46% today vs. 49% in 2019).

Chart shows partisan differences in views of the death penalty – especially on racial disparities in sentencing

Republicans and Democrats also differ over whether the death penalty is morally justified, whether it acts as a deterrent to serious crime and whether adequate safeguards exist to ensure that no innocent person is put to death. Republicans are 29 percentage points more likely than Democrats to say the death penalty is morally justified, 28 points more likely to say it deters serious crimes, and 19 points more likely to say that adequate safeguards exist.

But the widest partisan divide – wider than differences in opinions about the death penalty itself – is over whether White people and Black people are equally likely to be sentenced to the death penalty for committing similar crimes.

About seven-in-ten Republicans (72%) say that White people and Black people are equally likely to be sentenced to death for the same types of crimes. Only 15% of Democrats say this. More than eight-in-ten Democrats (83%) instead say that Black people are more likely than White people to be sentenced to the death penalty for committing similar crimes.

Differing views of death penalty by race and ethnicity, education, ideology

There are wide ideological differences within both parties on this issue. Among Democrats, a 55% majority of conservatives and moderates favor the death penalty, a position held by just 36% of liberal Democrats (64% of liberal Democrats oppose the death penalty). A third of liberal Democrats strongly oppose the death penalty, compared with just 14% of conservatives and moderates.

Chart shows ideological divides in views of the death penalty, particularly among Democrats

While conservative Republicans are more likely to express support for the death penalty than moderate and liberal Republicans, clear majorities of both groups favor the death penalty (82% of conservative Republicans and 68% of moderate and liberal Republicans).

As in the past, support for the death penalty differs across racial and ethnic groups. Majorities of White (63%), Asian (63%) and Hispanic adults (56%) favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. Black adults are evenly divided: 49% favor the death penalty, while an identical share oppose it.

Support for the death penalty also varies across age groups. About half of those ages 18 to 29 (51%) favor the death penalty, compared with about six-in-ten adults ages 30 to 49 (58%) and those 65 and older (60%). Adults ages 50 to 64 are most supportive of the death penalty, with 69% in favor.

There are differences in attitudes by education, as well. Nearly seven-in-ten adults (68%) who have not attended college favor the death penalty, as do 63% of those who have some college experience but no degree.

Chart shows non-college White, Black and Hispanic adults more supportive of death penalty

About half of those with four-year undergraduate degrees but no postgraduate experience (49%) support the death penalty. Among those with postgraduate degrees, a larger share say they oppose (55%) than favor (44%) the death penalty.

The divide in support for the death penalty between those with and without college degrees is seen across racial and ethnic groups, though the size of this gap varies. A large majority of White adults without college degrees (72%) favor the death penalty, compared with about half (47%) of White adults who have degrees. Among Black adults, 53% of those without college degrees favor the death penalty, compared with 34% of those with college degrees. And while a majority of Hispanic adults without college degrees (58%) say they favor the death penalty, a smaller share (47%) of those with college degrees say this.

Intraparty differences in support for the death penalty

Republicans are consistently more likely than Democrats to favor the death penalty, though there are divisions within each party by age as well as by race and ethnicity.

Republicans ages 18 to 34 are less likely than other Republicans to say they favor the death penalty. Just over six-in-ten Republicans in this age group (64%) say this, compared with about eight-in-ten Republicans ages 35 and older.

Chart shows partisan gap in views of death penalty is widest among adults 65 and older

Among Democrats, adults ages 50 to 64 are much more likely than adults in other age groups to favor the death penalty. A 58% majority of 50- to 64-year-old Democrats favor the death penalty, compared with 47% of those ages 35 to 49 and about four-in-ten Democrats who are 18 to 34 or 65 and older.

Overall, White adults are more likely to favor the death penalty than Black or Hispanic adults, while White and Asian American adults are equally likely to favor the death penalty. However, White Democrats are less likely to favor the death penalty than Black, Hispanic or Asian Democrats. About half of Hispanic (53%), Asian (53%) and Black (48%) Democrats favor the death penalty, compared with 42% of White Democrats.

About eight-in-ten White Republicans favor the death penalty, as do about seven-in-ten Hispanic Republicans (69%).

Differences by race and ethnicity, education over whether there are racial disparities in death penalty sentencing

There are substantial demographic differences in views of whether death sentencing is applied fairly across racial groups. While 85% of Black adults say Black people are more likely than White people to be sentenced to death for committing similar crimes, a narrower majority of Hispanic adults (61%) and about half of White adults (49%) say the same. People with four-year college degrees (68%) also are more likely than those who have not completed college (50%) to say that Black people and White people are treated differently when it comes to the death penalty.

Chart shows overwhelming majority of Black adults see racial disparities in death penalty sentencing, as do a smaller majority of Hispanic adults; White adults are divided

About eight-in-ten Democrats (83%), including fully 94% of liberal Democrats and three-quarters of conservative and moderate Democrats, say Black people are more likely than White people to be sentenced to death for committing the same type of crime – a view shared by just 25% of Republicans (18% of conservative Republicans and 38% of moderate and liberal Republicans).

Across educational and racial or ethnic groups, majorities say that the death penalty does not deter serious crimes, although there are differences in how widely this view is held. About seven-in-ten (69%) of those with college degrees say this, as do about six-in-ten (59%) of those without college degrees. About seven-in-ten Black adults (72%) and narrower majorities of White (62%) and Hispanic (63%) adults say the same. Asian American adults are more divided, with half saying the death penalty deters serious crimes and a similar share (49%) saying it does not.

Among Republicans, a narrow majority of conservative Republicans (56%) say the death penalty does deter serious crimes, while a similar share of moderate and liberal Republicans (57%) say it does not.

A large majority of liberal Democrats (82%) and a smaller, though still substantial, majority of conservative and moderate Democrats (70%) say the death penalty does not deter serious crimes. But Democrats are divided over whether the death penalty is morally justified. A majority of conservative and moderate Democrats (57%) say that a death sentence is morally justified when someone commits a crime like murder, compared with fewer than half of liberal Democrats (44%).

There is widespread agreement on one topic related to the death penalty: Nearly eight-in-ten (78%) say that there is some risk an innocent person will be put to death, including large majorities among various racial or ethnic, educational, and even ideological groups. For example, about two-thirds of conservative Republicans (65%) say this – compared with 34% who say there are adequate safeguards to ensure that no innocent person will be executed – despite conservative Republicans expressing quite favorable attitudes toward the death penalty on other questions.

Overwhelming share of death penalty supporters say it is morally justified

Those who favor the death penalty consistently express more favorable attitudes regarding specific aspects of the death penalty than those who oppose it.

Chart shows support for death penalty is strongly associated with belief that it is morally justified for crimes like murder

For instance, nine-in-ten of those who favor the death penalty also say that the death penalty is morally justified when someone commits a crime like murder. Just 25% of those who oppose the death penalty say it is morally justified.

This relationship holds among members of each party. Among Republicans and Republican leaners who favor the death penalty, 94% say it is morally justified; 86% of Democrats and Democratic leaners who favor the death penalty also say this.

By comparison, just 35% of Republicans and 21% of Democrats who oppose the death penalty say it is morally justified.

Similarly, those who favor the death penalty are more likely to say it deters people from committing serious crimes. Half of those who favor the death penalty say this, compared with 13% of those who oppose it. And even though large majorities of both groups say there is some risk an innocent person will be put to death, members of the public who favor the death penalty are 24 percentage points more likely to say that there are adequate safeguards to prevent this than Americans who oppose the death penalty.

On the question of whether Black people and White people are equally likely to be sentenced to death for committing similar crimes, partisanship is more strongly associated with these views than one’s overall support for the death penalty: Republicans who oppose the death penalty are more likely than Democrats who favor it to say White people and Black people are equally likely to be sentenced to death.

Among Republicans who favor the death penalty, 78% say that Black and White people are equally likely to receive this sentence. Among Republicans who oppose the death penalty, about half (53%) say this. However, just 26% of Democrats who favor the death penalty say that Black and White people are equally likely to receive this sentence, and only 6% of Democrats who oppose the death penalty say this.

CORRECTION (July 13, 2021): The following sentence was updated to reflect the correct timespan: “Last year, in part because of the coronavirus outbreak, fewer people were executed than in any year in nearly three decades.” The changes did not affect the report’s substantive findings.

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Human Rights Careers

5 Death Penalty Essays Everyone Should Know

Capital punishment is an ancient practice. It’s one that human rights defenders strongly oppose and consider as inhumane and cruel. In 2019, Amnesty International reported the lowest number of executions in about a decade. Most executions occurred in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt . The United States is the only developed western country still using capital punishment. What does this say about the US? Here are five essays about the death penalty everyone should read:

“When We Kill”

By: Nicholas Kristof | From: The New York Times 2019

In this excellent essay, Pulitizer-winner Nicholas Kristof explains how he first became interested in the death penalty. He failed to write about a man on death row in Texas. The man, Cameron Todd Willingham, was executed in 2004. Later evidence showed that the crime he supposedly committed – lighting his house on fire and killing his three kids – was more likely an accident. In “When We Kill,” Kristof puts preconceived notions about the death penalty under the microscope. These include opinions such as only guilty people are executed, that those guilty people “deserve” to die, and the death penalty deters crime and saves money. Based on his investigations, Kristof concludes that they are all wrong.

Nicholas Kristof has been a Times columnist since 2001. He’s the winner of two Pulitizer Prices for his coverage of China and the Darfur genocide.

“An Inhumane Way of Death”

By: Willie Jasper Darden, Jr.

Willie Jasper Darden, Jr. was on death row for 14 years. In his essay, he opens with the line, “Ironically, there is probably more hope on death row than would be found in most other places.” He states that everyone is capable of murder, questioning if people who support capital punishment are just as guilty as the people they execute. Darden goes on to say that if every murderer was executed, there would be 20,000 killed per day. Instead, a person is put on death row for something like flawed wording in an appeal. Darden feels like he was picked at random, like someone who gets a terminal illness. This essay is important to read as it gives readers a deeper, more personal insight into death row.

Willie Jasper Darden, Jr. was sentenced to death in 1974 for murder. During his time on death row, he advocated for his innocence and pointed out problems with his trial, such as the jury pool that excluded black people. Despite worldwide support for Darden from public figures like the Pope, Darden was executed in 1988.

“We Need To Talk About An Injustice”

By: Bryan Stevenson | From: TED 2012

This piece is a transcript of Bryan Stevenson’s 2012 TED talk, but we feel it’s important to include because of Stevenson’s contributions to criminal justice. In the talk, Stevenson discusses the death penalty at several points. He points out that for years, we’ve been taught to ask the question, “Do people deserve to die for their crimes?” Stevenson brings up another question we should ask: “Do we deserve to kill?” He also describes the American death penalty system as defined by “error.” Somehow, society has been able to disconnect itself from this problem even as minorities are disproportionately executed in a country with a history of slavery.

Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and author. He’s argued in courts, including the Supreme Court, on behalf of the poor, minorities, and children. A film based on his book Just Mercy was released in 2019 starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.

“I Know What It’s Like To Carry Out Executions”

By: S. Frank Thompson | From: The Atlantic 2019

In the death penalty debate, we often hear from the family of the victims and sometimes from those on death row. What about those responsible for facilitating an execution? In this opinion piece, a former superintendent from the Oregon State Penitentiary outlines his background. He carried out the only two executions in Oregon in the past 55 years, describing it as having a “profound and traumatic effect” on him. In his decades working as a correctional officer, he concluded that the death penalty is not working . The United States should not enact federal capital punishment.

Frank Thompson served as the superintendent of OSP from 1994-1998. Before that, he served in the military and law enforcement. When he first started at OSP, he supported the death penalty. He changed his mind when he observed the protocols firsthand and then had to conduct an execution.

“There Is No Such Thing As Closure on Death Row”

By: Paul Brown | From: The Marshall Project 2019

This essay is from Paul Brown, a death row inmate in Raleigh, North Carolina. He recalls the moment of his sentencing in a cold courtroom in August. The prosecutor used the term “closure” when justifying a death sentence. Who is this closure for? Brown theorizes that the prosecutors are getting closure as they end another case, but even then, the cases are just a way to further their careers. Is it for victims’ families? Brown is doubtful, as the death sentence is pursued even when the families don’t support it. There is no closure for Brown or his family as they wait for his execution. Vivid and deeply-personal, this essay is a must-read for anyone who wonders what it’s like inside the mind of a death row inmate.

Paul Brown has been on death row since 2000 for a double murder. He is a contributing writer to Prison Writers and shares essays on topics such as his childhood, his life as a prisoner, and more.

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About the author, emmaline soken-huberty.

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.

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Essays About the Death Penalty: Top 5 Examples and Prompts

The death penalty is a major point of contention all around the world. Read our guide so you can write well-informed essays about the death penalty. 

Out of all the issues at the forefront of public discourse today, few are as hotly debated as the death penalty. As its name suggests, the death penalty involves the execution of a criminal as punishment for their transgressions. The death penalty has always been, and continues to be, an emotionally and politically charged essay topic.

Arguments about the death penalty are more motivated by feelings and emotions; many proponents are people seeking punishment for the killers of their loved ones, while many opponents are mourning the loss of loved ones executed through the death penalty. There may also be a religious aspect to support and oppose the policy. 

1. The Issues of Death Penalties and Social Justice in The United States (Author Unknown)

2. serving justice with death penalty by rogelio elliott, 3. can you be christian and support the death penalty by matthew schmalz, 4.  death penalty: persuasive essay by jerome glover, 5. the death penalty by kamala harris, top 5 writing prompts on essays about the death penalty, 1. death penalty: do you support or oppose it, 2. how has the death penalty changed throughout history, 3. the status of capital punishment in your country, 4. death penalty and poverty, 5. does the death penalty serve as a deterrent for serious crimes, 6. what are the pros and cons of the death penalty vs. life imprisonment , 7. how is the death penalty different in japan vs. the usa, 8. why do some states use the death penalty and not others, 9. what are the most common punishments selected by prisoners for execution, 10. should the public be allowed to view an execution, 11. discuss the challenges faced by the judicial system in obtaining lethal injection doses, 12. should the death penalty be used for juveniles, 13. does the death penalty have a racial bias to it.

“Executing another person only creates a cycle of vengeance and death where if all of the rationalities and political structures are dropped, the facts presented at the end of the day is that a man is killed because he killed another man, so when does it end? Human life is to be respected and appreciated, not thrown away as if it holds no meaningful value.”

This essay discusses several reasons to oppose the death penalty in the United States. First, the author cites the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, saying that the death penalty is inhumane and deprives people of life. Human life should be respected, and death should not be responded to with another death. In addition, the author cites evidence showing that the death penalty does not deter crime nor gives closure to victims’ families. 

Check out these essays about police brutality .

“Capital punishment follows the constitution and does not break any of the amendments. Specific people deserve to be punished in this way for the crime they commit. It might immoral to people but that is not the point of the death penalty. The death penalty is not “killing for fun”. The death penalty serves justice. When justice is served, it prevents other people from becoming the next serial killer. It’s simple, the death penalty strikes fear.”

Elliott supports the death penalty, writing that it gives criminals what they deserve. After all, those who commit “small” offenses will not be executed anyway. In addition, it reinforces the idea that justice comes to wrongdoers. Finally, he states that the death penalty is constitutional and is supported by many Americans.

“The letter states that this development of Catholic doctrine is consistent with the thought of the two previous popes: St. Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI. St. John Paul II maintained that capital punishment should be reserved only for “absolute necessity.” Benedict XVI also supported efforts to eliminate the death penalty. Most important, however, is that Pope Francis is emphasizing an ethic of forgiveness. The Pope has argued that social justice applies to all citizens. He also believes that those who harm society should make amends through acts that affirm life, not death.”

Schmalz discusses the Catholic position on the death penalty. Many early Catholic leaders believed that the death penalty was justified; however, Pope Francis writes that “modern methods of imprisonment effectively protect society from criminals,” and executions are unnecessary. Therefore, the Catholic Church today opposes the death penalty and strives to protect life.

“There are many methods of execution, like electrocution, gas chamber, hanging, firing squad and lethal injection. For me, I just watched once on TV, but it’s enough to bring me nightmares. We only live once and we will lose anything we once had without life. Life is precious and can’t just be taken away that easily. In my opinion, I think Canada shouldn’t adopt the death penalty as its most severe form of criminal punishment.”

Glover’s essay acknowledges reasons why people might support the death penalty; however, he believes that these are not enough for him to support it. He believes capital punishment is inhumane and should not be implemented in Canada. It deprives people of a second chance and does not teach wrongdoers much of a lesson. In addition, it is inhumane and deprives people of their right to life. 

“Let’s be clear: as a former prosecutor, I absolutely and strongly believe there should be serious and swift consequences when one person kills another. I am unequivocal in that belief. We can — and we should — always pursue justice in the name of victims and give dignity to the families that grieve. But in our democracy, a death sentence carried out by the government does not constitute justice for those who have been put to death and proven innocent after the fact.”

This short essay was written by the then-presidential candidate and current U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to explain her campaign’s stance on the death penalty. First, she believes it does not execute justice and is likely to commit injustice by sentencing innocent people to death. In addition, it is said to disproportionally affect nonwhite people. Finally, it is more fiscally responsible for abolishing capital punishment, as it uses funds that could be used for education and healthcare. 

Essays About Death Penalty

This topic always comes first to mind when thinking of what to write. For a strong argumentative essay, consider the death penalty and list its pros and cons. Then, conclude whether or not it would be beneficial to reinstate or keep the policy. There is an abundance of sources you can gather inspiration from, including the essay examples listed above and countless other online sources.

People have been put to death as a punishment since the dawn of recorded history, but as morals and technology have changed, the application of the death penalty has evolved. This essay will explore how the death penalty has been used and carried out throughout history.

This essay will examine both execution methods and when capital punishment is ordered. A few points to explore in this essay include:

  • Thousands of years ago, “an eye for an eye” was the standard. How were executions carried out in ancient history?
  • The religious context of executions during the middle ages is worth exploring. When was someone burned at the stake?
  • The guillotine became a popular method of execution during the renaissance period. How does this method compare to both ancient execution methods and modern methods?
  • The most common execution methods in the modern era include the firing squad, hanging, lethal injections, gas chambers, and electrocution. How do these methods compare to older forms of execution?

Choose a country, preferably your home country, and look into the death penalty status: is it being implemented or not? If you wish, you can also give a brief history of the death penalty in your chosen country and your thoughts. You do not necessarily need to write about your own country; however, picking your homeland may provide better insight. 

Critics of the death penalty argue that it is anti-poor, as a poor person accused of a crime punishable by death lacks the resources to hire a good lawyer to defend them adequately. For your essay, reflect on this issue and write about your thoughts. Is it inhumane for the poor? After all, poor people will not have sufficient resources to hire good lawyers, regardless of the punishment. 

This is one of the biggest debates in the justice system. While the justice system has been set up to punish, it should also deter people from committing crimes. Does the death penalty do an adequate job at deterring crimes? 

This essay should lay out the evidence that shows how the death penalty either does or does not deter crime. A few points to explore in this essay include:

  • Which crimes have the death penalty as the ultimate punishment?
  • How does the murder rate compare to states that do not have the death penalty in states with the death penalty?
  • Are there confounding factors that must be taken into consideration with this comparison? How do they play a role?

Essays about the Death Penalty: What are the pros and cons of the death penalty vs. Life imprisonment? 

This is one of the most straightforward ways to explore the death penalty. If the death penalty is to be removed from criminal cases, it must be replaced with something else. The most logical alternative is life imprisonment. 

There is no “right” answer to this question, but a strong argumentative essay could take one side over another in this death penalty debate. A few points to explore in this essay include:

  • Some people would rather be put to death instead of imprisoned in a cell for life. Should people have the right to decide which punishment they accept?
  • What is the cost of the death penalty versus imprisoning someone for life? Even though it can be expensive to imprison someone for life, remember that most death penalty cases are appealed numerous times before execution.
  • Would the death penalty be more acceptable if specific execution methods were used instead of others?

Few first-world countries still use the death penalty. However, Japan and the United States are two of the biggest users of the death sentence.

This is an interesting compare and contrast essay worth exploring. In addition, this essay can explore the differences in how executions are carried out. Some of the points to explore include:

  • What are the execution methods countries use? The execution method in the United States can vary from state to state, but Japan typically uses hanging. Is this considered a cruel and unusual punishment?
  • In the United States, death row inmates know their execution date. In Japan, they do not. So which is better for the prisoner?
  • How does the public in the United States feel about the death penalty versus public opinion in Japan? Should this influence when, how, and if executions are carried out in the respective countries?

In the United States, justice is typically administered at the state level unless a federal crime has been committed. So why do some states have the death penalty and not others?

This essay will examine which states have the death penalty and make the most use of this form of punishment as part of the legal system. A few points worth exploring in this essay include:

  • When did various states outlaw the death penalty (if they do not use it today)?
  • Which states execute the most prisoners? Some states to mention are Texas and Oklahoma.
  • Do the states that have the death penalty differ in when the death penalty is administered?
  • Is this sentence handed down by the court system or by the juries trying the individual cases in states with the death penalty?

It might be interesting to see if certain prisoners have selected a specific execution method to make a political statement. Numerous states allow prisoners to select how they will be executed. The most common methods include lethal injections, firing squads, electric chairs, gas chambers, and hanging. 

It might be interesting to see if certain prisoners have selected a specific execution method to make a political statement. Some of the points this essay might explore include:

  • When did these different execution methods become options for execution?
  • Which execution methods are the most common in the various states that offer them?
  • Is one method considered more “humane” than others? If so, why?

One of the topics recently discussed is whether the public should be allowed to view an execution.

There are many potential directions to go with this essay, and all of these points are worth exploring. A few topics to explore in this essay include:

  • In the past, executions were carried out in public places. There are a few countries, particularly in the Middle East, where this is still the case. So why were executions carried out in public?
  • In some situations, individuals directly involved in the case, such as the victim’s loved ones, are permitted to view the execution. Does this bring a sense of closure?
  • Should executions be carried out in private? Does this reduce transparency in the justice system?

Lethal injection is one of the most common modes of execution. The goal is to put the person to sleep and remove their pain. Then, a cocktail is used to stop their heart. Unfortunately, many companies have refused to provide states with the drugs needed for a lethal injection. A few points to explore include:

  • Doctors and pharmacists have said it is against the oath they took to “not harm.” Is this true? What impact does this have?
  • If someone is giving the injection without medical training, how does this impact the prisoner?
  • Have states decided to use other more “harmful” modes of execution because they can’t get what they need for the lethal injection?

There are certain crimes, such as murder, where the death penalty is a possible punishment across the country. Even though minors can be tried as adults in some situations, they typically cannot be given the death penalty.

It might be interesting to see what legal experts and victims of juvenile capital crimes say about this important topic. A few points to explore include:

  • How does the brain change and evolve as someone grows?
  • Do juveniles have a higher rate of rehabilitation than adults?
  • Should the wishes of the victim’s family play a role in the final decision?

The justice system, and its unjust impact on minorities , have been a major area of research during the past few decades. It might be worth exploring if the death penalty is disproportionately used in cases involving minorities. 

It might be worth looking at numbers from Amnesty International or the Innocence Project to see what the numbers show. A strong essay might also propose ways to make justice system cases more equitable and fair. A few points worth exploring include:

  • Of the cases where the death penalty has been levied, what percentage of the cases involve a minority perpetrator?
  • Do stays of execution get granted more often in cases involving white people versus minorities?
  • Do white people get handed a sentence of life in prison without parole more often than people of minority descent?

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Argumentative Paper on the Pros of the Death Penalty

Introduction, a case for the death penalty, works cited.

The survival of any civilization hinges on the establishment of laws and codes of conduct and the subsequent obeying of the same by the society’s members. Due to the fact that not all members of the society are going to follow the law on their own accord, forms of punishment for wrongs done may be used both for retribution and deterrence purposes. In the United States, capital punishment has been used as the most harsh form of retribution for the society’s most vicious offences.

However, not all people believe that the death sentence is justifiable notwithstanding the brutality of the crime that a person may have perpetrated. This paper argues that the death penalty is not only necessary but also the most efficient means for deterring future offenders. The paper will reinforce this proposition by delving into the merits of the death penalty.

An article on “Public Support for the Death Penalty” indicates that the support for capital punishment has risen over the years with 77% of Americans supporting capital punishment. While this statistics do not in any way offer justification for the death penalty, they do show that many Americans are of the opinion that the death penalty is a just retribution for the evils perpetrated by the accused.

In most of the states, capital punishment is only issued when the accused party is convicted of crimes such as first degree murder or treason. Capital punishment therefore affords the federal state with a means of dispensing justice. The public and the parties affected by the accused actions can therefore find some solace in the fact justice has been served.

The most desirable function of punishments should be to act as a deterrence to would be criminals. In an ideal environment, punishments should never have to be executed but their mere presence should cause all to abide to the rules and regulations in place therefore peacefully coexist. Capital punishment presents the highest level of deterrence since death is indeed the ultimate punishment. This is especially so in cases where the criminal feels immune to the other forms of punishment such as restriction on freedom of movement or even hard labor.

“Televised Executions” indicates that executions, in this case televised ones, serviced an important social purpose of deterrence as the public is afforded a glimpse as to the fate that awaits those who engage in despicable acts thus making would be future offenders think twice about the results of their acts.

According to “Update: Death Penalty”, one of the most unique attributes of capital punishment is that it irrevocably protects the society from repeat offenders. This is an especially significant point since convicts have been known to reenter society either as a result of parole or more dramatic happenings such as jail breaks.

The death penalty ensures that some of the society’s most vicious criminals; murderers, arsons, etc. are rid off the society for good. The society can therefore continue without fear of there undesirable elements every coming back and causing chaos.

From an economic point on view, the cost of maintaining prisoners in the correctional facilities is fairly expensive. Opponents of the death penalty propose that in its place, life imprisonment without parole should be implemented. What this boils down to is that the prisoner will have to be maintained in the penitentiary for his entire life. This is a very costly affair and the brunt of it is bore by the taxpayer.

Capital punishment as executed by methods such as the lethal injection is not only radically cheaper but it also spares the state of the resources it would have utilized to ensure that the prisoner is maintained for a lifetime. While most of the opponents of the death penalty point to its execution being inhumane and hence torturous to the victim, a report on “lethal injection” indicates that not only is the lethal injection method (which is greatly favored by most states) almost entirely painless but the method presents a great advancement from past methods such as hanging and the use of the gas chamber. As such, capital punishment provides a cheap and human and relatively human method of dealing with criminals.

This paper has argued that the death penalty possess numerous advantages that make it a necessary tool in the justice system. It has been articulated that through the death penalty, retribution is served and the society is purged off its most vicious criminals. In addition to this, capital punishment presents the strongest form of deterrence to would be offenders as an example is made of those who have already been convicted.

While some people do contend that the death penalty should never be imposed on anyone, regardless of their crimes, it can be authoritatively stated from the above discussions that capital punishment does serve a significant role in the society and as such, it’s use should be perpetuated albeit with a lot of caution so as to avoid subjecting innocent parties to this ultimate form of punishment.

“Lethal Injection.” Issues & Controversies On File: n. pag. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 19 Oct. 2007. Web.

“Public Support for the Death Penalty Remains Strong (sidebar).” Issues & Controversies On File: n. pag. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 29 Dec. 1995. Web.

“Televised Executions.” Issues & Controversies On File: n. pag. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 11 May 2001. Web.

“Update: Death Penalty.” Issues & Controversies On File: n. pag. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 1 Apr. 2004. Web.

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The pros and cons of the death penalty

Despite global progress towards abolition, public opinion remains divided as executions increase

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Anti-death penalty protests outside the US Supreme Court

Pro: public support

Con: wrongful execution risk, pro: could reduce crime, con: not a deterrent, pro: sense of retribution, con: extremely expensive.

 The number of executions is rising around the world, even as many countries move towards abolishing or limiting the use of capital punishment.

According to the latest figures from Amnesty International – compiled from official statistics, media reports and information passed on from individuals sentenced to death – there were 883 executions worldwide in 2022. This total excludes China, which does not release details of those killed by the state but is believed to execute thousands of people a year. The global figure is up 53% from 2021 and is the highest number since 2017.

Amnesty said that at the end of 2022 there were more than 28,000 people under sentence of death in 52 countries.

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In the past half century capital punishment has increasingly been viewed as a human-rights issue. More than 120 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, according to The Death Penalty Project . Now, executions are most commonly carried out in China, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia (although there is little reliable data for countries such as Afghanistan, North Korea and Syria).

Although use of the death penalty is gradually declining in the US, a 2021 survey by Gallup found a majority of Americans (54%) said they were "in favour of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder".

In France, which abolished death by guillotine only in 1981, presidential frontrunner Marine Le Pen has vowed to hold a referendum on restoring capital punishment, which is backed by a huge majority of her supporters .

A YouGov poll in 2022 found 40% of Britons were still in favour of the death penalty, with Conservative voters far more likely to support it (58%), and those aged over 65 more than twice as likely as those aged 18-24.

One of the most "compelling forces" driving worldwide opinions against the death penalty has been "the increasing recognition of the potential for error in its use", wrote criminology professor Carolyn Hoyle and Saul Lehrfreund, co-director of the London-based NGO The Death Penalty Project, in a blog for the University of Oxford’s Death Penalty Research Unit . With justice systems prone to error, bias and coercion, wrongful executions are, in fact, "inevitable".

Since 1993, Washington-based non-profit organisation The Death Penalty Information Center has been tracking wrongful executions in the US, going back to the Supreme Court ruling in 1972. In a 2021 report, "The Innocence Epidemic", it concluded that at least 185 people had been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death since 1972. Nearly 70% of those cases involved "official misconduct by police, prosecutors or other government officials" – more so in cases involving a defendant of colour.

"The death penalty has always been, and continues to be, disproportionately wielded against black people and other people of colour," explained the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers , regarding the US. As of 2019, "black and Hispanic people represent 31% of the US population, but 53% of death-row inmates".

The "commonest justification" for the death penalty is that it functions as a "unique deterrent" for others, wrote Lehrfreund.

"Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed," Lee Anderson, the former Tory party deputy chairman, told The Spectator last year, backing calls to bring back the death penalty in Britain. A subsequent poll by Omnisis found 43% of British respondents agreed capital punishment would be an effective deterrent.

"When the UK first suspended the death penalty in 1965, many hoped that removing violence from the top end of justice would trickle down through society, making us more civilised," wrote Tim Stanley in The Telegraph . "Instead, crime went up, and today, as predators exploit our liberality, a state without the death penalty resembles a lion tamer without a whip."

The death penalty has "no deterrent effect", said the American Civil Liberties Union . "Claims that each execution deters a certain number of murders have been thoroughly discredited by social science research." 

Most murders are committed either in the heat of passion, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or because of mental illness. The few murderers who plan their crimes "intend and expect to avoid punishment altogether by not getting caught". 

The Death Penalty Project concluded after a review of multiple studies that capital punishment "does not deter murder to a marginally greater extent than does the threat or application of life imprisonment". In 2021, the Human Rights Council cited studies which showed that some member states that had abolished the death penalty saw their murder rates stay the same, or even decline.

Of the "four major justifications for punishment" – deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation and retribution – it is the last of these that has "often been scorned by academics and judges", said Robert Blecker, a professor emeritus at New York Law School, in The New York Times . But "ultimately, it provides capital punishment with its only truly moral foundation".

Supporters often point to religious justification based on the Bible, citing "an eye for an eye". But retribution is "not simply revenge", said Blecker. "Revenge may be limitless and misdirected at the undeserving, as with collective punishment. Retribution, on the other hand, can help restore a moral balance. It demands that punishment must be limited and proportional."

Many supporters of the death penalty argue that it is more cost-effective than feeding and housing an inmate for the whole of a life-without-parole sentence . But in countries with arduous appeals processes and strong human-rights organisations, the death penalty is – counterintuitively – far more expensive than imprisonment for life.

More than a dozen US states found in 2007 that death penalty cases were up to 10 times more expensive than comparable non-death penalty cases. That year, New Jersey became the first state to ban executions for reasons of "time and money", said NBC News .

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Harriet Marsden is a writer for The Week, mostly covering UK and global news and politics. Before joining the site, she was a freelance journalist for seven years, specialising in social affairs, gender equality and culture. She worked for The Guardian, The Times and The Independent, and regularly contributed articles to The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The New Statesman, Tortoise Media and Metro, as well as appearing on BBC Radio London, Times Radio and “Woman’s Hour”. She has a master’s in international journalism from City University, London, and was awarded the "journalist-at-large" fellowship by the Local Trust charity in 2021. 

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Home — Essay Samples — Social Issues — Death Penalty — The Death Penalty: Pros and Cons


The Death Penalty: Pros and Cons

  • Categories: Capital Punishment Death Penalty

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Words: 2398 |

12 min read

Published: Oct 11, 2018

Words: 2398 | Pages: 5 | 12 min read

Table of contents

Pros and cons of death penalty, works cited.

  • Bedau, H. A., & Cassell, P. G. (Eds.). (2016). Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment? Oxford University Press.
  • Fagan, J., & Zimring, F. E. (2019). Death Penalty, Deterrence, and Homicide Rates: Empirical Evidence Contradicting Many Years of Research. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 16(2), 221-243.
  • Garvey, S. P. (2017). The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies. Oxford University Press.
  • Haag, E. V. D. (1983). A defense of capital punishment. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 11, 1-28.
  • Kastenberger, C., & Weyringer, M. (2017). The Impact of Capital Punishment on the Social Fabric of American Society: The Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty. Lambert Academic Publishing.
  • Liebman, J. S., & Clarke, P. (2013). The Fallibility of Fairness: An Analysis of Louisiana's Death Penalty as a Case Study in How a Death Penalty Jurisdiction Can Get It Wrong. American Journal of Criminal Law, 40, 207-251.
  • Marzilli, A. (2017). Reassessing the Proportionality Requirement for Death Penalty Cases. Notre Dame Law Review, 92(5), 1989-2026.
  • Peterson, A., & Bailey, W. C. (2019). The Relationship between Poverty and the Death Penalty. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 30(3), 317-333.
  • Schabas, W. A. (2015). The Death Penalty as Cruel Treatment and Torture: Capital Punishment Challenged in the World's Courts. Harvard University Press.
  • Zimring, F. E. (2019). The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment. Oxford University Press.

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pros of death penalty essay

Death Penalty - Essay Samples And Topic Ideas For Free

The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, remains a contentious issue in many societies. Essays on this topic could explore the moral, legal, and social arguments surrounding the practice, including discussions on retribution, deterrence, and justice. They might delve into historical trends in the application of the death penalty, the potential for judicial error, and the disparities in its application across different demographic groups. Discussions might also explore the psychological impact on inmates, the families involved, and the society at large. They could also analyze the global trends toward abolition or retention of the death penalty and the factors influencing these trends. A substantial compilation of free essay instances related to Death Penalty you can find at Papersowl. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

pros of death penalty essay

Death Penalty and Justice

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The death penalty is a very controversial topic in many states. Although the idea of the death penalty does sound terrifying, would you really want a murderer to be given food and shelter for free? Would you want a murderer to get out of jail and still end up killing another innocent person? Imagine if that murder gets out of jail and kills someone in your family; Wouldn’t you want that murderer to be killed as well? Murderers can kill […]

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Does the Death Penalty Effectively Deter Crime?

The death penalty in America has been effective since 1608. Throughout the years following the first execution, criminal behaviors have begun to deteriorate. Capital punishment was first formed to deter crime and treason. As a result, it increased the rate of crime, according to researchers. Punishing criminals by death does not effectively deter crime because criminals are not concerned with consequences, apprehension, and judges are not willing to pay the expenses. During the stage of mens rea, thoughts of committing […]

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What’s the first thing that pops up in your mind when you hear the words Capital Punishment? I’m assuming for most people the first thing that pops up is a criminal sitting on a chair, with all limbs tied down, and some type of mechanism connected to their head. Even though this really isn't the way that it is done, I do not blame people for imagining that type of image because that is how movies usually portray capital punishment. […]

Euthanasia and Death Penalty

Euthanasia and death penalty are two controversy topics, that get a lot of attention in today's life. The subject itself has the roots deep in the beginning of the humankind. It is interesting and maybe useful to learn the answer and if there is right or wrong in those actions. The decision if a person should live or die depends on the state laws. There are both opponents and supporters of the subject. However different the opinions are, the state […]

The Death Penalty is not Worth the Cost

The death penalty is a government practice, used as a punishment for capital crimes such as treason, murder, and genocide to name a few. It has been a controversial topic for many years some countries still use it while others don't. In the United States, each state gets to choose whether they consider it to be legal or not. Which is why in this country 30 states allow it while 20 states have gotten rid of it. It is controversial […]

Ineffectiveness of Death Penalty

Death penalty as a means of punishing crime and discouraging wrong behaviour has suffered opposition from various fronts. Religious leaders argue that it is morally wrong to take someone's life while liberal thinkers claim that there are better ways to punish wrong behaviour other than the death penalty. This debate rages on while statistically, Texas executes more individuals than any other state in the United States of America. America itself also has the highest number of death penalty related deaths […]

Is the Death Penalty Morally Right?

There have been several disputes on whether the death penalty is morally right. Considering the ethical issues with this punishment can help distinguish if it should be denied or accepted. For example, it can be argued that a criminal of extreme offenses should be granted the same level of penance as their crime. During the duration of their sentencing they could repent on their actions and desire another opportunity of freedom. The death penalty should be outlawed because of too […]

Why the Death Penalty is Unjust

Capital punishment being either a justifiable law, or a horrendous, unjust act can be determined based on the perspective of different worldviews. In a traditional Christian perspective, the word of God given to the world in The Holy Bible should only be abided by. The Holy Bible states that no man (or woman) should shed the blood of another man (or woman). Christians are taught to teach a greater amount of sacrifice for the sake of the Lord. Social justice […]

The Death Penalty and People’s Opinions

The death penalty is a highly debated topic that often divided opinion amongst people all around the world. Firstly, let's take a look at our capital punishments, with certain crimes, come different serving times. Most crimes include treason, espionage, murder, large-scale drug trafficking, and murder towards a juror, witness, or a court officer in some cases. These are a few examples compared to the forty-one federal capital offenses to date. When it comes to the death penalty, there are certain […]

The Debate of the Death Penalty

Capital punishment is a moral issue that is often scrutinized due to the taking of someone’s life. This is in large part because of the views many have toward the rule of law or an acceptance to the status quo. In order to get a true scope of the death penalty, it is best to address potential biases from a particular ethical viewpoint. By looking at it from several theories of punishment, selecting the most viable theory makes it a […]

The History of the Death Penalty

The History of the death penalty goes as far back as ancient China and Babylon. However, the first recorded death sentence took place in 16th Century BC Egypt, where executions were carried out with an ax. Since the very beginning, people were treated according to their social status; those wealthy were rarely facing brutal executions; on the contrary, most of the population was facing cruel executions. For instance, in the 5th Century BC, the Roman Law of the Twelve Tablets […]

Death Penalty is Immoral

Let's say your child grabs a plate purposely. You see them grab the plate, smash it on the ground and look you straight in the eyes. Are they deserving of a punishment? Now what if I say your child is three years old. A three year old typically doesn't know they have done something wrong. But since your child broke that one plate, your kid is being put on death row. You may be thinking, that is too harsh of […]

The Death Penalty in the United States

The United States is the "land of the free, home of the brave" and the death penalty (American National Anthem). Globally, America stands number five in carrying executions (Lockie). Since its resurrection in 1976, the year in which the Supreme Court reestablished the constitutionality of the death penalty, more than 1,264 people have been executed, predominantly by the medium of lethal injection (The Guardian). Almost all death penalty cases entangle the execution of assassins; although, they may also be applied […]

Cost of the Death Penalty

The death penalty costs more than life in prison. According to Fox News correspondent Dan Springer, the State of California spent 4 billion dollars to execute 13 individuals, in addition to the net spend of an estimated $64,000 per prisoner every year. Springer (2011) documents how the death penalty convictions declined due to economic reasons. The state spends up to 3 times more when seeking a death penalty than when pursuing a life in prison without the possibility of parole. […]

The Solution to the Death Penalty

There has never been a time when the United States of America was free from criminals indulging in killing, stealing, exploiting people, and even selling illegal items. Naturally, America refuses to tolerate the crimes committed by those who view themselves as above the law. Once these convicts are apprehended, they are brought to justice. In the past, these criminals often faced an ultimate punishment: the death penalty. Mercy was a foreign concept due to their underdeveloped understanding of the value […]

Costs: Death Penalty Versus Prison Costs

The Conservatives Concerned Organization challenges the notion that the death penalty is more cost effective compared to prison housing and feeding costs. The organization argues that the death penalty is an expensive lengthy and complicated process concluding that it is not only a bloated program that delays justice and bogs down the enforcement of the law, it is also an inefficient justice process that diverts financial resources from law enforcement programs that could protect individuals and save lives. According to […]

Death Penalty as a Source of Constant Controversy

The death penalty has been a source of almost constant controversy for hundreds of years, splitting the population down the middle with people supporting the death penalty and people that think it is unnecessary. The amount of people that are been against the death penalty has grown in recent years, causing the amount of executions to dwindle down to where there is less than one hundred every year. This number will continue to lessen as more and more people decide […]

Death Penalty is Politically Just?

Being wrongfully accused is unimaginable, but think if you were wrongfully accused and the ultimate punishment was death. Death penalty is one of the most controversial issues in today's society, but what is politically just? When a crime is committed most assume that the only acceptable consequence is to be put to death rather than thinking of another form of punishment. Religiously the death penalty is unfair because the, "USCCB concludes prisoners can change and find redemption through ministry outreach, […]

George Walker Bush and Death Penalty

George Walker Bush, a former U.S. president, and governor of Texas, once spoke, "I don't think you should support the death penalty to seek revenge. I don't think that's right. I think the reason to support the death penalty is because it saves other people's lives." The death penalty, or capital punishment, refers to the execution of a criminal convicted of a capital offense. With many criminals awaiting execution on death row, the death penalty has been a debated topic […]

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How To Write an Essay About Death Penalty

Understanding the topic.

When writing an essay about the death penalty, the first step is to understand the depth and complexities of the topic. The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, is a legal process where a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. This topic is highly controversial and evokes strong emotions on both sides of the debate. It's crucial to approach this subject with sensitivity and a balanced perspective, acknowledging the moral, legal, and ethical considerations involved. Research is key in this initial phase, as it's important to gather facts, statistics, and viewpoints from various sources to have a well-rounded understanding of the topic. This foundation will set the tone for your essay, guiding your argument and supporting your thesis.

Structuring the Argument

The next step is structuring your argument. In an essay about the death penalty, it's vital to present a clear thesis statement that outlines your stance on the issue. Are you for or against it? What are the reasons behind your position? The body of your essay should then systematically support your thesis through well-structured arguments. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of the death penalty, such as its ethical implications, its effectiveness as a deterrent to crime, or the risk of wrongful convictions. Ensure that each point is backed up by evidence and examples, and remember to address counterarguments. This not only shows that you have considered multiple viewpoints but also strengthens your position by demonstrating why these opposing arguments may be less valid.

Exploring Ethical and Moral Dimensions

An essential aspect of writing an essay on the death penalty is exploring its ethical and moral dimensions. This involves delving into philosophical debates about the value of human life, justice, and retribution. It's important to discuss the moral justifications that are often used to defend the death penalty, such as the idea of 'an eye for an eye,' and to critically evaluate these arguments. Equally important is exploring the ethical arguments against the death penalty, including the potential for innocent people to be executed and the question of whether the state should have the power to take a life. This section of the essay should challenge readers to think deeply about their values and the principles of a just society.

Concluding Thoughts

In conclusion, revisit your thesis and summarize the key points made in your essay. This is your final opportunity to reinforce your argument and leave a lasting impression on your readers. Discuss the broader implications of the death penalty in society and consider potential future developments in this area. You might also want to offer recommendations or pose questions that encourage further reflection on the topic. Remember, a strong conclusion doesn't just restate what has been said; it provides closure and offers new insights, prompting readers to continue thinking about the subject long after they have finished reading your essay.

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  • Death Penalty Essays

Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty Essay

Death penalty has become one of the most controversial and debated issues in the United States and as a result the pros and cons of death penalty have long been discussed. While supporters of death penalty argue that capital punishments would deter dreaded criminals from indulging in serious crimes there are many who hold that death penalty is against one’s human rights. The growing rates of homicides and serious offences have prompted many to support. On the other hand, the major argument against death penalty is that it is violates human rights, ethics, and morality. This paper seeks to explore the major pros and cons of imposing death penalty as a criminal judicial sentencing.

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Many researchers, human rights activist and the Catholic Church argue that death penalty is against human rights, morality and ethical considerations. There are also a large number of people who oppose death penalty because of the cruel inhuman way it is administered. In this respect, James Coleman observes that the application of the death penalty today in the American judicial system is quite arbitrary and inconsistent (The Death Penalty: Arbitrariness and the Death Penalty). Similarly, Coleman, citing the famous Lockett v. Ohio in 1978, goes on to argue that the ultimate decision of the jury to impose the death penalty is usually followed by the defendant’s opportunity to plead for mercy. It is also a fact that there are many deserving defendants who are eligible for the death penalty but escape the capital punishment and vice versa which pose a number of questions on the amount of fairness in administering death penalty. Even when the advocates of death penalty hold that it should be imposed ‘fairly and with reasonable consistency’ despite the legal formulas and procedural rules “the death penalty remains fraught with arbitrariness, discrimination…and mistake” (The Death Penalty: Pro and Con). In fact, the ideal death penalty system in the United States does not exist in its application. This is very well suggested by Greenberg when he observes that even though the goals of administering death penalty are “deterring crime, punishing the guilty, acquitting the innocent, avoiding needless cruelty, treating citizens equally, and prohibiting oppression by the state – America simply does not have the kind of capital punishment system contemplated by death penalty partisans” (Greenberg). Life time imprisonment without any parole would be a better alternative than death penalty. It can thus be seen that the current judicial system of applying death penalty has a lot of flaws and it is high time that the nation re-examine the system.

On the other hand, one can never undermine the positive impacts of death penalty. Death penalty, undoubtedly, is a great tool of deterrence in putting an end to serious and cruel criminal activities. The criminals are most likely to indulge in more of serious crimes when the judicial system poses no threats to their own lives. The proponents of death penalty believe that death penalty is better deterrent than other alternative punishments such as life imprisonment. It is a fact that abolitionists who stress on the value of the life of a convicted murderer or, at least, his non-execution fail to “value the lives of the innocent victims who might be spared by deterring prospective murderers” (Haag). In the same way, it is the duty of the judicial system to ensure that retributive social justice is maintained, the interests of the common public are protected and that their lives are being secured and guarded against unwanted tragedies. The criminal justice statistics on death penalty makes it clear that majority of the public opinion are in favor of death penalty. For instance, the criminal justice survey in 2002 revealed that almost 68% of women were in favor of death penalty whereas only 29% of them opposed the system (Attitudes toward the death penalty for murder for selected groups, United States, 2002). Similarly, another remarkable statistical survey conducted in the United States in selected years from 1953 to 2010 also reveal that public opinion is quite in favor of death penalty (Attitudes toward the death penalty for persons convicted of murder, United States, selected years 1953-2010). All these surveys reveal that the American public still believes that the death penalty has a positive impact in the American society.

Works Cited

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Attitudes toward the death penalty for murder for selected groups, United States, 2002. Web. 23 June 2011. .

Attitudes toward the death penalty for persons convicted of murder, United States, selected years 1953-2010. Web. 23 June 2011. .

Greenberg, Jack. Against the American System of Capital Punishment. Harvard Law Review Association (1986), WGBH educational foundation, 2011. Web. 23 June 2011. .

Haag, Ernest van den. The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense. WGBH educational foundation, 2011. Web. 23 June 2011. .

The Death Penalty: Arbitrariness and the Death Penalty. ABA Focus 12.2 (Spring 1997). Web. 23 June 2011.

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16 Advantages and Disadvantages of the Death Penalty and Capital Punishment

Human civilizations have used the death penalty in their set of laws for over 4,000 years. There have been times when only a few crimes receive this consequence, while some societies, such as the seventh century B.C.’s Code of Athens required the punishment for all crimes to be death.

The death penalty in the United States came about because of the influences of the colonial era. The first recorded execution in the colonies occurred in 1608 in Jamestown. Captain George Kendall was executed for being a spy for Spain. It only took four more years for Virginia to institute the death penalty for minor offenses such as stealing grapes or trading with Native Americans.

Today, capital punishment is reserved for brutal and heinous crimes, such as first-degree murder. Some countries use the death penalty for repetitive violent crime, such as rape and sexual assault, or for specific drug offenses. Here are the pros and cons of the death penalty to review as we head into 2021 and beyond.

List of the Pros of the Death Penalty

1. It is a way to provide justice for victims while keeping the general population safe. There is an expectation in society that you should be able to live your life without the threat of harm. When there is someone who decides to go against this expectation by committing a violent crime, then there must be steps taken to provide everyone else the safety that they deserve. Although arguments can be made for rehabilitation, there are people who would continue their violent tendencies no matter what. The only way to keep people safe in those circumstances, and still provide a sense of justice for the victims, is the use of the death penalty.

2. It provides a deterrent against serious crimes. The reason why there are consequences in place for criminal violations is that we want to have a deterrent effect on specific behaviors. People who are considering a breach of the law must see that the consequences of their actions are worse if they go through without that action compared to following the law.

Although up to 88% of criminologists in the United States report that capital punishment is not an effective deterrent to homicide, the fact that it can prevent some violence does make it a useful tool to have in society.

3. It offers a respectful outcome. A critical component of justice in modern society involves punishing criminal behavior in a way that is not cruel or unusual. That societal expectation has led the United States to implement capital punishment by using lethal injections. Although some regions struggle to purchase the necessary drugs to administer lethal injections, the process of putting someone to sleep before they stop breathing eliminates the pain and negative outcomes associated with other execution methods.

Modern processes in modern societies are much more compassionate compared to the historical methods of hanging, firing squads, or other gruesome methods of taking a life under the law.

4. It maintains prison populations at manageable levels. Over 2 million people are currently part of the prison population in the United States. About one in five people currently in jails across the country are awaiting trial for charges that they face. That is about the same amount of people who are labeled as being violent offenders. By separating those who are convicted of a capital crime, we create more room for individuals who want to work through rehabilitation programs or otherwise improve their lives and live law-abiding futures. This structure makes it possible to limit the financial and spatial impacts which occur when all serious crimes require long-term prisoner care.

5. It offers society an appropriate consequence for violent behavior. There are criminals who have a desire to rehabilitate their lives and create new futures for themselves within the bounds of the law. There are also criminals who desire to continue their criminal behaviors. By keeping capital punishment as an option within society, we create an appropriate consequence that fits the actions taken by the criminal. The death penalty ensures that the individual involved will no longer be able to create havoc for the general population because they are no longer around. That process creates peace for the victims, their families, and society in general.

6. It eliminates sympathetic reactions to someone charged with a capital crime. The United States offers a confrontational system of justice because that is an effective way to address the facts of the case. We make decisions based on logic instead of emotion. The law must be able to address the actions of a criminal in a way that discourages other people from conducting themselves in a similar manner. Our goal should be to address the needs of each victim and their family more than it should be to address the physical needs of the person charged with a capital crime.

7. It stops the threat of an escape that alternative sentences would create. The fastest way to stop a murderer from continuing to kill people is to eliminate their ability to do so. That is what capital punishment does. The death penalty makes it impossible for someone convicted of murder to find ways that kill other people. Failing to execute someone who is taking a life unjustly, who is able to kill someone else, makes us all responsible for that action. Although there are issues from a moral standpoint about taking any life, we must remember that the convicted criminal made the decision to violate the law in the first place, knowing full well what their potential outcome would be.

List of the Cons of the Death Penalty

1. It requires one person to kill another person. In an op-ed published by the New York Times, S. Frank Thompson discussed his experience in executing inmates while serving as the superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary. He talked about how the death penalty laws forced him to be personally involved in these executions. He came to a point where, on a moral level, he decided that life either had to be honored or not. His job required him to kill someone else. Whether someone takes a life through criminal means, or they do so through legal means, there still is an impact on that person which is unpredictable.

2. It comes with unclear constitutionality in the United States. In the 1970s, the Supreme Court of the United States found the application of the death penalty unconstitutional, but four years later, allowed the death penalty to resume with certain limitations on when and how it must be carried out. Some justices have called for a review of the death penalty due to current information about the risk of sentencing innocent people to death and other concerns about the death penalty.

After four decades of surveys, studies, and experiences with the death penalty, there are three specific defects that critics state exist. There is unreliability in the systems that are used to put prisoners to death, there are delays that can last for 20 years or more before executing a prisoner, and the application of capital punishment has been called arbitrary.

3. It does not have a positive impact on homicide rates. The United States implemented the death penalty 22 times in 2019, and imposed 34 death sentences. Crime statistics for that year indicate that there were 16,425 reported murders and non-negligent manslaughter cases in the U.S. Some claim that criminals do not think they’ll be caught and convicted, so the death penalty has a limited deterrence effect. Statistics on crimes show that when the death penalty is abolished, and replaced with a guaranteed life in prison, there are fewer violent acts committed.

4. It creates a revenge factor, which may not best serve justice. No one can blame families of victims for wanting justice. There is enough reason because of their pain and loss to understand concepts like vengeance. The problem with the death penalty is that it implements only one form of justice. It can be seen to create the framework for allowing for an eye for an eye, rather than taking a morally higher ground. If we permit the killing of people as a consequence of their own murderous decisions, then do we devalue life itself? It cannot be assumed that something that is legal is necessarily morally correct.

5. It costs more to implement the death penalty. The average case brought to trial which involves the death penalty costs taxpayers $1.26 million (counted through to execution). Cases that are taken to a jury which do not involve capital punishment cost an average of $740,000 (counted through to the end of incarceration). When you compare the costs of maintaining a prisoner in the general population compared to keeping someone on death row, taxpayers save money by avoiding the death penalty.

Maintaining a prisoner on death row costs $90,000 more per year than keeping that person in the general population. When one considers the cost of keeping someone on death row for 20 years or more, it is cheaper to sentence someone to life in prison without the possibility of parole in most states that it is to put them to death.

6. It comes with a risk that an innocent person could be executed. Although we like to think that our criminal justice systems are perfect, it is not. A study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined that at least 4% of the people that are on death row are likely to be innocent. Since 1973, over 170 people have been taken off of death row because evidence showed that they were innocent of the crime for which they were convicted.

The justice system has flaws in our justice system. There have been cases where prosecutors knowingly withheld exculpatory information. There have been times when the justice system has introduced false evidence against defendants. People can be coerced into entering a guilty plea, or admitting their guilt, because of external pressures placed on them.

7. It does not always provide the sense of justice that families require. Research published in 2012 by the Marquette Law Review found that the victim’s family experienced higher levels of psychological, physical, and behavioral health when the convicted criminal was sentenced to life in prison, instead of the death penalty. The death penalty might be considered to be the ultimate form of justice, but it does not always provide the satisfaction people think it will once it is administered.

8. It does not seek alternative solutions. About one in every nine people in the U.S. is the population is currently serving a life sentence. Many more are serving a sentence that keeps them in prison for the rest of their lives because it will last for 15 years or more. Violent crime has declined dramatically since it peaked in the early 1990s. According to FBI data, the violent crime rate fell 51% between 1993 and 2018, and using the Bureau of Justice Statistics, it fell 71% during that same period. In 2016, 2,330 prisoners escaped from prison in the U.S.

There are numerous ways to prevent someone from breaking out of prison and hurting someone else, and the decreased number of violent crimes should mean a smaller prison population to work with to seek alternative solutions.

9. It automatically assumes that the criminal cannot be rehabilitated. There will always be people who decide they will live with a disregard for others. These people may never successfully complete a rehabilitation process after committing a crime. Sentencing someone to death makes the assumption that the person cannot be rehabilitated and suggests that there is no other way to help society except to get rid of that criminal.

These death penalty pros and cons are not intended to serve as a moral framework but are an attempt at a balanced look at reasons why capital punishment is a useful tool within societies, as well as reasons to the contrary. There are also specific outcomes that occur when the death penalty is not a potential sentence, which can be beneficial. That is why these critical points must continue to be discussed so that we all can come to the best possible decision to keep one another safe.

Finding Sources for Death Penalty Research

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One of the most popular topics for an argument essay is the death penalty . When researching a topic for an argumentative essay , accuracy is important, which means the quality of your sources is important.

If you're writing a paper about the death penalty, you can start with this list of sources, which provide arguments for all sides of the topic.

Amnesty International Site

Amnesty International views the death penalty as "the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights." This website provides a gold mine of statistics and the latest breaking news on the subject.

Mental Illness on Death Row

Death Penalty Focus is an organization that aims to bring about the abolition of capital punishment and is a great resource for information. You will find evidence that many of the people executed over the past decades are affected by a form of mental illness or disability.

Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty

This extensive article provides an overview of arguments for and against the death penalty and offers a history of notable events that have shaped the discourse for activists and proponents.

Pro-Death Penalty Links

This page comes from ProDeathPenalty and contains a state-by-state guide to capital punishment resources. You'll also find a list of papers written by students on topics related to capital punishment. 

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pros of death penalty essay

Why is the death penalty still used? Let's look at the pros and cons and then the facts

O n a cold, wet November morning in 1972, Roger Bontems was marched to the guillotine for complicity in two murders, neither of which he committed. He had requested a little extra time to comb his hair before meeting his fate.

The spectacle and crack of the blade so haunted his attorney and future French justice minister, Robert Badinter, that he became a staunch champion of abolition. When the French parliament overwhelmingly outlawed the death penalty in 1981, he put his hand on the plaque commemorating Victor Hugo’s seat, also a strident abolitionist, and said “It is done.”  

I recently heard a law professor argue that lethal injection was tantamount to water boarding and fraught with administrative problems. I was compelled to point out the elephant in the room. Why do we still administer the death penalty?

Apologists argue that it is valuable as a deterrent and essential for maintaining public safety. They may see it as a cheap alternative to a lifetime of imprisonment or as justice for taking another’s life. But are these legitimate arguments?

The death penalty is sought in only a fraction of murder cases, and it is often doled out capriciously.

The National Academy of Sciences concludes that its role as a deterrent is ambiguous.

In Tennessee, federally prosecuted capital trials where the death penalty is sought cost about 50% more than those where it is not, and 29% of these sentences are overturned on appeal.

The cost of seeking capital punishment is higher at every point in the process and in some states can multiply the cost as much as eight times. In Maryland, for example, between 1978 and 2008, taxpayers paid more than $37 million per prisoner executed.

With most states spending half of their budgets on education and health care alone, the opportunity cost of that money is great.

There is virtually no difference for public safety between life sentences and execution. It usually takes many years or even decades to bring someone to an execution stage. Even if the convict is ultimately released, the rate of violent crime recidivism drops significantly in older age.

Brain science tells us that our decision making is mostly the product of competing brain centers that have been trained by our experiences, so it is misguided having a criminal justice system motivated primarily by retribution − itself an atavistic instinctual response.

If 80% of all homicides in the U.S. are committed with guns and most of these crimes are committed with the types of guns that are designed to kill people − 25% of all gun deaths are from 9 mm handguns − then why not tightly regulate these types of guns?

Unfortunately, there is a human tendency for someone to double down on bad policy instead of admitting to themselves or others that they are wrong.

More guns and state-sanctioned killings do not represent any form of moral high ground and will never make us safer.

William Culbert is a retired physician. He lives in Oak Ridge.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Why is the death penalty still used? Let's look at the pros and cons and then the facts

William Culbert


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    Pro 3 The death penalty is the only moral and just punishment for the worst crimes. Talion law (lex talionis in Latin), or retributive law, is perhaps best known as the Biblical imperative: "Anyone who inflicts a permanent injury on his or her neighbor shall receive the same in return: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The same injury that one gives another shall be ...

  6. Should the Death Penalty Be Abolished?

    In the July Opinion essay "The Death Penalty Can Ensure 'Justice Is Being Done,'" Jeffrey A. Rosen, then acting deputy attorney general, makes a legal case for capital punishment:

  7. Most Americans Favor the Death Penalty Despite Concerns About Its

    The data in the most recent survey, collected from Pew Research Center's online American Trends Panel (ATP), finds that 60% of Americans favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder.Over four ATP surveys conducted since September 2019, there have been relatively modest shifts in these views - from a low of 60% seen in the most recent survey to a high of 65% seen in September ...

  8. 5 Death Penalty Essays Everyone Should Know

    5 Death Penalty Essays Everyone Should Know. Capital punishment is an ancient practice. It's one that human rights defenders strongly oppose and consider as inhumane and cruel. In 2019, Amnesty International reported the lowest number of executions in about a decade. Most executions occurred in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt.

  9. Essays About the Death Penalty: Top 5 Examples and Prompts

    Top 5 Writing Prompts On Essays about the Death Penalty 1. Death Penalty: Do You Support or Oppose It? For a strong argumentative essay, consider the death penalty and list its pros and cons. This topic always comes first to mind when thinking of what to write. For a strong argumentative essay, consider the death penalty and list its pros and cons.

  10. Common Pro-Death Penalty Arguments

    Depending on one's perspective, however, the death penalty may not actually represent justice for victims. 01. of 05. "The Death Penalty Is an Effective Deterrent". This is probably the most common argument in favor of capital punishment, and there's actually some evidence that the death penalty may be a deterrent to homicide, but it's a very ...

  11. Pros and Cons of Death Penalty

    Some of the cons of capital punishment include the following; Death penalty is a great burden to taxpayers financially because the actual cost of carrying out capital punishment is approximated to be 2-5 times higher than leaving the offender in prison for as many years as possible. The process of reaching the final ruling as to whether to hang ...

  12. Argumentative Paper on the Pros of the Death Penalty

    The death penalty ensures that some of the society's most vicious criminals; murderers, arsons, etc. are rid off the society for good. The society can therefore continue without fear of there undesirable elements every coming back and causing chaos. From an economic point on view, the cost of maintaining prisoners in the correctional ...

  13. The pros and cons of the death penalty

    Pro: public support. Although use of the death penalty is gradually declining in the US, a 2021 survey by Gallup found a majority of Americans (54%) said they were "in favour of the death penalty ...

  14. The Pros of The Death Penalty: a Comprehensive Analysis

    Conclusion. In conclusion, the pros of the death penalty revolve around the potential deterrent effect on violent crime, the concept of retributive justice, and the cost-effectiveness compared to alternatives. While these arguments provide a foundation for supporting the death penalty, it is important to acknowledge the opposing viewpoints and ...

  15. The Death Penalty: Pros and Cons

    I believe the death penalty should be legal throughout the nation. Discussing the death penalty pros and cons, there are many reasons as to why I think the death penalty should be legalized in all states, including deterrence, retribution, and morality; and because opposing arguments do not hold up, I will refute the ideas that the death penalty is unconstitutional, irrevocable mistakes are ...

  16. Death Penalty Free Essay Examples And Topic Ideas

    46 essay samples found. The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, remains a contentious issue in many societies. Essays on this topic could explore the moral, legal, and social arguments surrounding the practice, including discussions on retribution, deterrence, and justice. They might delve into historical trends in the application ...

  17. Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty Essay

    The growing rates of homicides and serious offences have prompted many to support. On the other hand, the major argument against death penalty is that it is violates human rights, ethics, and morality. This paper seeks to explore the major pros and cons of imposing death penalty as a criminal judicial sentencing.

  18. 16 Advantages and Disadvantages of the Death Penalty and Capital

    Some countries use the death penalty for repetitive violent crime, such as rape and sexual assault, or for specific drug offenses. Here are the pros and cons of the death penalty to review as we head into 2021 and beyond. List of the Pros of the Death Penalty. 1. It is a way to provide justice for victims while keeping the general population safe.

  19. Death Penalty Research Paper: Sources for Arguments

    When researching a topic for an argumentative essay, accuracy is important, which means the quality of your sources is important. If you're writing a paper about the death penalty, you can start with this list of sources, which provide arguments for all sides of the topic. 01. of 04.

  20. Benefits of the Death Penalty Essay

    Historically, executions have been around for a long time. The first established death penalty laws date as far back as the Eighteenth Century B.C. but didn't make an appearance in the United States until 1608 (Part 1, n.d.). Death penalty is seen as a form of accountability for someone's action.

  21. Why is the death penalty still used? Let's look at the pros and ...

    The death penalty is sought in only a fraction of murder cases, and it is often doled out capriciously. The National Academy of Sciences concludes that its role as a deterrent is ambiguous.

  22. Pros And Cons Of The Death Penalty Philosophy Essay

    This creates more violent acts in society and more problems with how to punish these individuals. Having the death penalty for violent crimes often prevents this. To summarize, the main point of the argument for the death penalty is that crime will go down because of the fear of punishment. This is the belief of those that advocate the death ...

  23. The death penalty

    Arguments for the death penalty. If someone murders someone else, they have given up their human rights, including the one to stay alive themselves. The punishment should 'fit the crime' - if you ...

  24. Death Penalty Essay Pro

    The Death Penalty and its Consequences: Permanent Punishment Nikki Partlow-Loyall University of Arkansas at Little Rock Abstract This essay discusses the due process and just nature of the death penalty. Discussed are the pro-death penalty arguments of deterrence preventing crime and retribution being just and providing closure.