Deadly Consequences

Samantha Street’s Argument Against the Death Penalty


The Death Penalty Information Center reports on the number of executions per year in the United States (chart courtesy of DPIC).

Samantha Street, Staff Writer

Eighteen inmates have been executed in the United States in 2017 (Death Penalty Information Center). According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s report on the death penalty, 2,843 people are on death row. They are awaiting execution. The death penalty is an archaic form of punishment that violates prisoners’ rights, wastes taxpayer dollars, may punish the innocent, and needs to be abolished.

Many people argue that the death penalty is not inhuman because lethal injections do not cause pain, but these executions can be botched in a way that makes them painful. The death penalty takes away people’s lives and subjects them to inhuman punishment.  The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted. The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights also guarantees the right to life and the right to not be “subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” These are violated by the death penalty.

Supporters of the death penalty often say that they do not want their tax dollars going to keeping a convicted murderer alive, but it is actually more expensive to put them on death row. Taxpayers’ money is being wasted on these trials. Millions more are spent on death row cases than on life sentences. A study in Maryland found that a death penalty case cost the state $186 million more than a similar case that did not seek the death penalty (The Cost of the Death Penalty in Maryland).

As much as people would like to believe that the justice system is flawless, unfortunately, it is not. It is unacceptable that our government puts innocent people behind bars and possibly in their graves. Since 1973, 159 people have been released from death row when evidence proving their innocence was discovered (Death Penalty Information Center).This raises the question of whether innocent people have died because of this system. There are multiple cases where the defendant had strong evidence of their innocence but was executed despite it.

This is not a simple issue since it involves the lives of human beings. These people may be convicted criminals, but they are still human. The death penalty violates the basic rights afforded to everyone, wastes money, and may punish the innocent. For these reasons, the death penalty must be abolished.