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Daphna Rosenberg


The Death Penalty is a very controversial ethical question. It has been debated whether or not it is considered inhumane to kill someone or if it is justified to have this person locked away their whole life instead. In the history of the world, capital punishment for criminals has been practiced without question for years. While some argue that the death penalty is unethical, I would argue that the death penalty is a valid and reasonable punishment for a wrongdoer under specific circumstances. 

For a person to be eligible to receive the death penalty, they should be convicted of 1st-degree murder, 2nd-degree murder, or voluntary manslaughter. A criminal should never receive the death penalty if they committed involuntary manslaughter and 3rd-degree murder; both 3rd-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter are committed without the intent of actually killing. All other crimes should not be punishable by death, and if a criminal is a juvenile or mentally insane, they should not be subjected to this punishment. If someone is such a ruthless person who can purposefully take someone’s life, their life should be taken from them as well. 

There have been several instances where criminals facing murder charges faced no capital punishment and were let out on parole after their sentences. In these instances, criminals went out in the real world and murdered more innocent people. Why risk innocent people's lives while these criminals can be sentenced to death in the first place? An example of this was in 1968: Leigh Robinson was convicted of murder, and was supposed to receive the death penalty. Instead, he was commuted to 30 years with a minimum of 20 in jail. After all of this, he was let out on parole and ended up committing more crimes including rape, assault, and abuse. Eventually, in 2018 he killed his former girlfriend, Tracy Greenbury.  

There have been several instances where murderers do not face the death penalty to receive life in jail. Even in jail, they find ways to kill more people. An example of this was in October 2011, when Michael Parr and Nathan Mann, who was convicted of murder, killed another inmate. They lured him into a prison cell, cut his throat, stabbed him in the eye, then disemboweled him with the intention of eating his organs. Even if a murderer is put in jail, they can still find ways to target and kill. 

Additionally, it is easier for a person to escape jail than to escape death. There have been several instances where criminals who did not receive capital punishment managed to escape while in jail and ultimately kill several innocent people. For example, Randy Greenawalt and Gary Tison were convicted murderers and were sentenced to life in prison, but in 1978, they met in prison and escaped. While on the run, Greenwalt and Tison kidnapped and murdered John and Donnelda Lyons, their toddler son Christopher, and their niece Theresa Tyson. After these killings, they then moved north and killed newlyweds James and Margene Judge.

Capital punishment can deter murders altogether as the wrongdoer would fear being killed themselves. By inflicting the death penalty, criminals are most likely to turn away from their crimes and think twice.  As John McAdams of Marquette University stated, “If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact, have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former.” 

 Furthermore, for the sake of the victim and their family, the death penalty helps provide closure for the criminal’s horrid acts by providing justice. Even though families and victims cannot undo the crime, knowing the offender will never do this to them or anybody else again is comforting. Families will have an easier time beginning the healing process and move on with their lives. Capital punishment also ensures justice is served for the victim.   

While some people consider the death penalty cruel and inhumane, the death penalty is more humane than most realize. Lethal injection is the most widely used execution tool since it is a swift, painless death for the offender. Therefore, with all its benefits and little downsides, capital punishment should be implemented. 


Browning, Hilary. “7 Criminals Who Were Murdered by Their Inmates in Prison.” Life Death Prizes, 11 Aug. 2017, 

Hagan, Kate. “Life Term for Double Killer Who Gunned down Fleeing Mum-of-Two.” The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Jan. 

“Methods of Execution.” Death Penalty Information Center.

Olivia Harvey Updated Nov 17, and Olivia Harvey. “10 Serial Killers Who Have Escaped Prison and Were Fugitives.” HelloGiggles, 

White, Deborah. “Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty and Capital Punishment.” ThoughtCo


The death penalty is a form of capital punishment that has been controversial throughout all 50 states of America. Some believe that the death penalty should be practiced freely to punish and deter criminals. On the other hand, many feel strongly that it should be abolished. I believe that the death penalty should not be carried out because it can sometimes be applied to innocent people and it is not financially practical.  

Even if a person commits heinous crimes, they should not be sentenced to something as permanent as the death penalty. Once a person is sentenced to the death penalty, there is no way of turning back if the convicted were to be found innocent. There have been several instances where people have been convicted of a horrid crime, found guilty, and received the death penalty. After receiving the death penalty, these people were found innocent. In 2004, Cameron Todd Willingham was found guilty of murdering his three young daughters by setting his house on fire. Since forensic science stated that his daughters were killed because of arson, Willingham was sentenced to the death penalty. After his execution, multiple forensic fire consultants reviewed the case and objected to Willingham’s execution, stating there was no evidence that the fire was intentionally set. He was declared guilty based on flawed forensic science. Willingham’s last words were, “Please clear my name; I did not kill my children.” After being declared innocent, it made no difference because he already received the death penalty, and there was no way to bring him back to life. Instead of something as irreversible as the death penalty, criminals should be placed in jail without parole to allow for the possibility that they will be proven innocent.

It would seem that the cost of life in jail would be more expensive than just ending someone's life. In jail, money is spent feeding criminals, housing them, and providing them with medical care. However, contrary to popular belief, the cost of the execution of a criminal is significantly more than the cost associated with keeping a criminal in prison for life. The added costs of the actual execution and the process of the lengthy appeals process are immensely more than keeping a criminal locked up. When a criminal is faced with the possibility of the death penalty, they are subjected to a complex and serious trial that determines the rest of their life. The prosecution goes through a preliminary hearing, the jury selection process, appeals, incarceration, and finally, the execution. Each little decision has a significant effect on a wrongdoer's life, and there is much to consider, so every part of the process requires a lot of time, effort, and spending. It can take years for a court to decide if a defendant is suitable to incur the death penalty based on their mental state, evidence, witnesses, history, and so much more. For example, in Florida, enforcing the death penalty costs $51 million more a year than giving all first-degree murderers life in prison without parole. It would make more sense financially to lock a criminal up for the rest of their life, rather than pay for a lengthy trial, appeals, and execution. 

There is an idea that the act of killing a defendant will provide a victim and families with feelings of justice and relief. However, there have been families and victims that have said just the opposite. Many families that have lost loved ones say that a death sentence for the murderer won't give them a feeling of comfort and reassurance but will give them a prolonged feeling of dread and pain. In 2003, the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was caught and put in custody. He was faced with the possibility of the death penalty, but only 15 percent of his victims’ families wanted him to receive the death sentence. Bill and Denise Richard lost their 8-year-old son in this bombing, but still didn’t want Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to receive the death penalty, saying, “the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives.” Even though the Richards lost a lot, including their 7-year-old daughter’s leg, and their own son, they still wanted to take the death penalty “off the table.”

In the US Bill of Rights, the 8th amendment states that "excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The death penalty can be considered cruel and unusual based on the fact that there is a possibility of pain during a botched execution. In most of the world, the most widely used method of execution is by lethal injection, which is supposed to be painless. In some cases, this type of execution can go wrong and cause immense pain for the wrongdoer and result in a violation of the 8th amendment. There have been several instances where the death penalty was a painful and horrible experience for offenders. In 2019, Angel Diaz was sentenced to death by lethal injection. This injection gave him an 11 by 7 inch chemical burn. He should have been dead almost immediately, but ten minutes after the drug was administered, he managed to whisper, “What's going on?,” and even 14 minutes after that, his body jolted awake, and he widened his eyes. Despite the three additional drugs to “dull his pain,” it was still an additional two minutes before he was pronounced dead; his death was more than three times longer and far more painful than what he should have experienced.

The administration of the death penalty is anything but fair and just. Unfortunately, some criminals are sentenced to the death penalty because they do not have enough money to pay for good counsel to protect them. Due to their low quality of defense, they are more likely to receive the death penalty. According to OADP, ineffective assistance of counsel is one of the factors that frequently cause reversals in death penalty cases. Columbia University found that “68% of all death penalty cases were reversed on appeal, with inadequate defense as one of the main reasons requiring reversal” (OADP, 2018). It is unjust and unconstitutional that one’s wealth and class can determine whether or not a person might get the chance to live.

The death penalty is not good for criminals, nor citizens, and is unfair to everyone. Criminals face the possibility of a botched execution, wrongful execution, and executions as a result of their social class. It is unfair to citizens that the death penalty uses their tax dollars for expensive trials, while not even providing families of victims closure. The death penalty was originally used impartially to deter criminals and provide justice, but it is evident that it is not used in this way anymore. Over 70 percent of the world has abolished the death penalty, and we should aim for more to do so. In my opinion, it is completely dishonorable for countries to utilize this inhumane practice. 


Amadeo, Kimberly. “Why the Death Penalty Costs More Than Life in Prison.” The Balance

“The Facts: 13 Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty.” The Facts: 13 Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty | Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

“International.” Death Penalty Information Center, 22 Apr. 2020, 

Knox, Patrick. “Worst Botched Execution Ever as Killer's Skin Rips Apart & He Gasps for Air.” The Sun, The Sun, 24 Oct. 2019, 

Marsh, Jason. “Does Death Penalty Bring Closure?” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 May 2015, 

“Wrongful Executions.” Wrongful Executions, National Coalition To Abolish the Death Penalty.

Do Killers Deserve to be Killed?: Academics
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