Why Capital Punishment Should Be Abolished

Jacqueline glenn, Staff Writer

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The Constitution promises every American citizen the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But not everyone is guaranteed to enjoy those freedoms.

Despite its founding laws, American prisons executed 25 people last year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

That doesn’t sit well with us, and it shouldn’t with the American people either.

Some rationalize the death penalty for American murder convicts by an eye-for-an-eye justification. But statistics show justice is hardly served — not to the American people, not to the convict and not to his victim.

In a death penalty trial, the American taxpayer is shortchanged. For example, an independent study, which was conducted by Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission, concluded that seeking the death penalty for defendants costs, on average, $700,000 more for counties in the state than not seeking it because of the costs that amass when a life is at stake.

The prospect of capital punishment requires more public defenders representing the accused, paid for by taxpayers, and those lawyers must spend ample time cultivating the defense they will use to potentially save their client’s life.

Why amass that crushing $700,000 when avoiding it is completely possible?

The convict is also a victim of injustice. His crime is now committed against him by the same government that convicted him of killing.

And sometimes, the miscarriage of justice goes even further.

According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, 156 inmates have been exonerated from the death penalty after wrongful convictions. A person’s life is hardly a gambling matter, but it can certainly be jeopardized in a similar way. Had the convictions not been reviewed in time, or had the judges refused a re-trial or had a mistrial occurred, it would have been too late for the inmates.

Lastly, a convict’s victim gains nothing from the death of his killer. The victim is permanently stripped of breath, and nothing can reverse the finality of his death. If the victim’s murderer receives the death penalty, it only results in another life lost.

Semon Frank Thompson, former Superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, wrote it best in his book “What I learned form Executing Two Men” — capital punishment is a failed policy.

“America should no longer accept the myth that capital punishment pays any constructive role in our criminal justice system,” Thompson wrote.

It is time to abolish the unconstitutional, taxpayer-burdening, miscarriage of justice that is the death penalty.

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