9 Arguments Against the Death Penalty: Are There Any Pros?

There are more cons than pros when it comes to the death penalty. Here’s why you should be against capital punishment too. As one of the only Western industrialized countries, the United States is a country that still actively used the death penalty. 30 countries around the world have stopped using death punishment as a punishment since the early 1990s. However, there are still roughly 74 countries that continue to use the death penalty, but overall, there are only a small group of countries that make up most of the population of executions. These countries are the United States, Vietnam, Iran, and China.

In the United States alone, there are more than 3,200 inmates who are currently on death row. When the death penalty was reinstated back in 1976, over 1,200 inmates have been executed throughout the United States. Unfortunately, nearly 75-percent of these executions took place in the southern portion of the United States. Texas alone counts for over 35-percent of these executions.

For the past few decades, both political parties, Democrats and Republicans have competed with one another to be the “toughest on crime.” It was not until the 1980s and well into the 1990s, that the executions went out of control and increased tremendously.

In October of 2005, a Gallup Poll published that 64 percent of people supported the death penalty. This number went down tremendously from the Gallup Poll in 1994 when nearly 80-percent of people supported the death penalty. However, in 2006, the United States witness the lowest number of inmate executions that we have seen in the last 30 years.

Death Penalty Facts

Granted, we’ve talked briefly about the death penalty, but let’s get into some not so well-known facts about this capital punishment.

  1. As of May 2019, only 29 states currently allow the death penalty.
  2. As of October 2018, there is a total of 2,721 inmates on death row in the United States.
  3. The United States Military and the United States Government has 62 inmates on death row as of December 2018.
  4. The United States Government as executed 3 people since 1988.
  5. As of October 2018, there was 55 women on the death row list.
  6. Between 1976 to 2005, 22 juveniles have been executed.
  7. 288 death row inmates have been granted clemency since 1976.

Arguments Against Capital Punishment

Now that we have discussed a bit about the death penalty and how the support for the death penalty is ever so fast dwindling, let’s talk about why you should be opposing the death penalty as well.

1. Is the Death Penalty Racist?

In short, yes. Here’s why.

The death penalty was always applied in such a racist way, to be completely honest. It was always racially biased. This biased tend to come from a few different factors. This does not just have to do with the color of the defendant’s skin, but also the color of the victim’s skin as well. When it comes down to the death penalty, the lives of whites are much more valuable than the lives of minorities.

Let’s bring in some death penalty facts for a second. For starters, in the United States population, African American equate for nearly 12-percent. While in the death row population in the United States, African Americans equate for 42-percent.

While in states such as Maryland, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania, along with the United States military and even the federal system, over 60-percent of the inmates on death row are African American. While in states such as South Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, and North Carolina, over 50-percent of the inmates on death row are African American.

Even though African Americans commit nearly 50% of the murders each year in the United States, but nearly 80-percent of these victims in these capital punishment cases were white, and only a small percentage of 14 were African American.

If that is not enough, out of the 18,000 executions that were taken place in the United States history, nearly 42 of these executions were a white person being put to death for killing an African American.

Back in 1972, the United States Supreme Court stated that the death penalty laws within the United States were unconstitutional due to the issues with racial disparities.

Sick Twist Game: Murder by the Pound

A former prosecutor in Cook County, Illinois, known as Michael Goggin, finally admitted that their district attorney’s office was running a contest, which involved their prosecutors to convict defendants to a total weight of 4,000 pounds. This lead both women and men to be marched into a room right after their conviction to be weighed. Because many of these men and women were African American, the murder by the pound game was officially known as the “Niggers by the Pound.”

2. Is the Death Penalty Punishing the Poor?

In short, yes. Here’s why.

For starters, if you cannot obtain good legal counsel, like many cannot, you may very well end up on death row.

Nearly 90-percent of the defendants that were charged with a capital crime are poor, and they or their families cannot afford to hire the best criminal defense attorney around. These people are forced to use a public defender. Most public defenders are not experienced in their crimes, they are overworked, and they are highly underpaid.

However, many of these capital trials will only last a week at most. This is not even enough time when you have one of the best attorneys in town, let alone an inexperienced public defender. So, the results in these cases are very certain you will be sitting on death row, by the weekend.

For instance, if the famous O.J. Simpson was a poor man, he would not be where he is today. He would be on death row, no questions asked.

Money Talks in the United States

In the United States, as you can so far see, money talks and everything else walks. You will never be equal with someone who has an abundance of cash laying around.

For those poor people, who are being charged with a capital crime, it’s a sure-fire way to get on the death penalty. But, if this person was rich, this person would be off the hook because of money talks in the court system.

3. Are the Death Penalty Killing Innocent People?

In short, yes. Here’s why.

123 inmates on death row have been released in 25 different states throughout the United States since 1973. These death row inmates were released due to the evidence proving they were innocent all along.

This is not surprising with how the justice system herds the African Americans or the poor through their gates to slap the death penalty on them. Unfortunately, those who use leniency or even plea bargains are the ones who are often the most taken advantage of since they are likely to be serving more time than the others. Not to mention, that prosecutors and police both work quickly to arrest and ignore some of the most powerful evidence that may tell them the suspect they have in jail is innocent.

In early 2003, George Ryan, the Illinois Governor changed all the death row inmate sentences since the Illinois Justice System was beyond flawed and they could not be sure who was innocent and who was not.

When it comes to execution, one can never be sure who is truly innocent and who is truly guilty. Between 1900 to 1992, Michael Radlet, a Criminologist documented nearly 416 cases of inmates who convicted of either capital rape or murder. Out of these 416 cases, nearly a third of them were given the death penalty. Out of these 416 cases, only 23 of these inmates were executed.

The Death Row 10 Members

Before George Ryan, Illinois Governor left office in 2003, he pardons 4 death row inmates. These inmates were Stanley Howard, Aaron Patterson, Madison Hobley, and Leroy Orange. These were Death Row 10 members.

All these inmates were sentenced to the death penalty under the supervision of Lieutenant Jon Burge, who worked with the Chicago’s Area Two Violent Crimes Detective Unit. However, in early 1993, Burge was later fired by the Chicago Police Department for the obvious reason of turning torturing inmates. It was revealed the Burge participated in torturing over 40 African American men during their interrogations. Burge used many methods of torture, including the following:

  • Death Threats
  • Electric Shock
  • Beatings
  • Suffocation Hoods
  • Burns
  • Russian Roulette

This leads us to Madison Hobley. Hobley was given the death sentence based on his coerced confession. The police in the Area Two handcuffed Hobley to the wall and beat him severely. He was then taken downtown where he would be handcuffed to a chair this time and beaten by Sgt. Patrick Garrity. Later, Hobley said that three cops would come in to suffocate him with what he called a plastic-type-writer cover until he lost consciousness.

Even though the police stated that Hobley confessed that he set a fire in his own apartment that would later kill his child and his wife. However, there was never any evidence that backed up this claim, and Hobley always insisted he never confessed to this crime.

A witness who later identified Hobley stated that Hobley purchased a gas canister just an hour before the fire, but the witness couldn’t pick him out of a line-up. Later in 2002, there was a hearing that unearthed evidence that the jury in the case was intimidated. That gas canister that was such a crucial piece of the entire trial had no signs of being burned whatsoever. The plastic cap was still intact, which resulted in the evidence showing it was merely planted at the crime scene.

4. Does the Death Penalty Deterring Crime?

In short, no. Here’s why.

Over the past decade or so, there have been many studies trying to prove that the death penalty deters murder. Unfortunately, none of these studies could possibly show this.

Jeffrey Fagan, a Professor in the Colombia Law School, stated that these studies include many omissions and come equipped with some serious flaws, that this work these studies are doing is just junk.

Let’s be honest for a second nearly 80-percent of executions take place in the south. The southern United States has a much higher murder rate than the north United States does.

More Executions Means More Murders

However, let’s be real, the credible evidence points in the opposite direction. More executions will always equal to more murders. One study that was conducted by Thorsten Sellin found that in the years of 1989 up to 2002, New York state had no executions, California only had one execution, while the good state of Texas had 239 executions. These states had nearly the same patterns of murder rates between the years, but Texas had the most executions.

5. Is the Death Penalty Cruel?

In short, yes. Here’s why.

In the year 2007, in many states throughout the United States, executions were placed on hold. This was since botched executions were put into the limelight when the lethal injection process was closely monitored.

The Lancet, a British medical journal posted in 2005, that their team of medical researchers discovered many flaws in how these lethal injections were being used. One main thing that was pointed out was the way these lethal injections were administered was causing the inmate to suffer tremendously by this process. The report stated nearly 43 out of 49 received some sort of anesthetic prior to receiving the lethal injection. This rate was MUCH lower than the rate that is required for surgery.

Tortured on the Way to Death

Angel Nieves Diaz was just one victim of a botch execution that happened on December 13, 2006. This botched execution then led Jeb Bush, Florida’s Governor at the time to sign an executive order stopping all executions within the state.

This botched execution was a technician error. The technicians did not insert the needles correctly. These needles are vital as they are what carry the drugs administered to kill the death row inmate.

Since these needles were not inserted correctly, the drugs were injected into his soft tissues rather than his veins. This left Diaz suffering in pain for over a half hour. When finally, they inserted the second set of needles to again administer the drugs.

After the execution of Diaz, the county medical examiner found 12-inch chemical burns inside both of Diaz’s arms.

6. Is the Death Penalty Biased Towards Guilty People?

In short, yes. Here’s why.

In short, the death penalty does not see the good in people. People can change. People should be allowed second chances. However, the justice system thinks not. Many inmates on death row, never really got a first chance let alone a second chance. Many of the inmates on death row grew up with violence, neglect, in poverty, with racism, and along with many mental illnesses. These traits right here are a cocktail for making a criminal.

However, no one ever televises the countless stories of inmates who turned around their lives while they were in prison. Despite being in a facility with no rights, they turned over a new leaf. Executing these inmates denies them the ultimate chance to prove to not only themselves, but their friends, family members, and even the community that they truly changed.

Killing the Peacemaker

Stan Tookie Williams was once a leader of the Crips gang out there in Los Angles. He was sentenced to death. While on death row, Williams disavowed his past. Williams even went on to write a series of anti-gang books that were geared towards teens and young adults. Williams even went as far as having teachers call the facility to have him speak to their class to urge students to never get involved in the gang atmosphere.

Williams message resonated with anyone and everyone he told it to. Especially the impressionable youth. They listen. They hung on to his every word. Williams work helped reduce the gang violence and was even said to be more effective than any legislative action the government put in place. Despite all his good work, Williams was still executed back in 2005.

7. Is the Death Penalty Degrading?

In short, yes. Here’s why.

No matter how you spin it, the death penalty is degrading for everyone involved. It should not be what the United States is known for.

For starters, many executions are from high-profile cases. Which then turns these executions into an even more public event. The United States even will go as far as live broadcasting the lethal injections of these inmates. This does not serve the public in any way, shape, or form. It only increases Americans to become sensitized to this type of behavior. When, making a public event out of it is degrading, cruel, and very inhumane.

The United States the Drug Abuser

Throughout the United States, many individuals suffer from some sort of drug addiction. Whether it is prescription drugs or illegal drugs, they are both equally as deadly and equally as scary.

Nearly all the states who have the death penalty, executed by lethal injection. This makes the states look as if they are now drug abusers.  These states are killing inmates with these drugs such as sodium thiopental. These drugs, as stated by their manufacturer, should be used in healing purposes, not killing purposes.

8. Is There a Better Option Than the Death Penalty?

In short, yes. Here’s why.

Throughout everything, there is always a better way than to execute someone. For instance, in Oregon, they have the chance to sentence murders to life in prison without ever receiving the chance for parole. So far, there are over 120 inmates in the state of Oregon who was given this sentence.

Religious Views do NOT Support the Death Penalty

Even though there are a handful of isolated messages in the Bible, that get quoted a lot in support for the death penalty, nearly all religions and religious groups throughout the United States say executions are as immoral as they come.

This Does Not Heal the Victim’s Families

Killing these inmates on death row will not bring peace or even joy to the families of these victims. They will not bring back their mother, father, brother, sister, or whoever was lost. This extends their pain tremendously having to go through the ever long execution process.

The family of these victims would be better off having these funds used for counseling and other assistance that they may need rather than executing the criminal.

9. Does the Death Penalty Kill the Mentally Ill?

In short, yes. Here’s why.

Since 1977, out of every ten inmates who have been executed at least one of these inmates was mentally ill, according to the National Association on Mental Illness and Amnesty International.

Majority of these mentally ill inmates were not able to partake in their in any helpful way. Many of these inmates came off as cold, unfeeling, and unengaged in the juror’s eyes. Even some of these inmates were forcibly medicated to make them competent enough for the execution to happen.

However, the United States Supreme Court finally signed a bill that people who suffer from mental retardation cannot be executed.

Gives PTSD to the Civilian in Charge of the Execution

Too many correctional personnel that are heavily involved with these executions also suffer from PTSD from having to execute these individuals.  There is no reason whatsoever to place correctional personnel under this much turmoil and stress to execute someone when they could simply live their life in prison.

Are There any Pros and What are the Death Penalty Cons?

For starters, we went over a lot of pros and cons to the death penalty already, but here are just a few more, we would like to share with you.

  1. Cost of the death penalty vs. life in prison. The death penalty is cheaper than life in prison.
  2. The death penalty is constitutional. It does not violate your 8th amendment.
  3. It is just another added bill for the taxpayers.
  4. Execution is a form of revenge.

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