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Federal Government The Death Penalty Essay

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Kelsey McManus
Extra Credit Assignment
The Death Penalty
The death penalty has long been used as a punishment for heinous crimes by the United States Justice Department. With all of the civil and social reforms that have taken place over the last century, it is surprising the death penalty is still implemented in the United States. It is my opinion that the death penalty should be made illegal on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and incoherent with the values of the American people, as well as economically detrimental.

Although it is easy to claim that the capital punishment is immoral based on religious teachings and texts, such evidence does not hold up in a court of law, no matter how widespread belief in it is. What cannot be denied are the basic principles of civil behavior. I am confident that no civilized person would think it acceptable to punish a rapist with rape, or an arsonist by burning down his or her home. Likewise, it should seem equally barbaric to kill a murderer as punishment for his misdeed. It is not difficult to see that punishing criminals by subjecting them to what they do to their victims is an unacceptable method of carrying out justice (Death Penalty Information Center). By condemning killers to death, the government is stooping to the level of the murderer; instead of a wrong being made right, another wrong is committed. As if this is not reason enough to cease capital punishment, the Constitution presents further reason to doubt the practice.

In the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, it is stated that no citizen may be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”. If a person is condemned to death by a judge, then one would assume that due process of law had been carried out; however, the number of people convicted of a capital crime that were later proven innocent, combined with the extensive amount of time that sometimes passes before such revolutions occur, seems to allude to a different conclusion. Overturning of guilty verdicts, whether as the result of an appeal, the emergence of new evidence, or the application of new technology, is not as uncommon as one might hope. By condemning a person to die, the government is taking away the chance that such a revelation could take place (Death Penalty Information System). When there could be the release of an innocent man or woman, wrongly convicted, there is instead the knowledge that an innocent person has been killed in the most disgraceful way.

The government has a history of sentencing innocent men to death row. Shockingly, more than 130 people have been released from death row after evidence has proven their innocence since 1973 (Staff Report). Whether such people were wrongly condemned due to botched detective or forensic work or inadequate representation, they were well on their way to the morgue at the hand of the government. It is safe to say that a greater degree of certainty ought to be achieved before any judge feels comfortable sending a defendant to death row. Of death sentences that have been appealed, the courts have reversed more than two thirds. Although 20% of those reversals were made because it was determined that the defendant had been too harshly sente...

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