Death Penalty: Pros and Cons Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

It violates the right to life...It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. There can never be any justification for torture or for cruel treatment" (White, n.d., pg. 1).

In addition to the argument that it is a denial of human rights, abolitionists have an equally strong offender-centered argument of innocence (White, n.d. pg. 2). They argue that innocent people are often put to death, in what can only be termed a heinous denial of justice. Further arguments against the death penalty consist of its use against primarily poor offenders, its inconsistent use, and the fact that convicted criminals, even murderers, can reform in prison and be reproductive once again (White, n.d., pg. 2). White uses the example of Stanley "Tookie" Williams to show this is true. Williams, a former gang member and founder, was executed in 2005, but only after he had sincerely reformed of his ways during the prison sentence prior to his execution. He wrote children's books about the dangers of gangs and was nominated for both the Nobel Peace and Literature prizes. Despite protest, the state decided to execute him for his crimes. Advocates of the death penalty would most likely question his conversion or suggest that he still needed to be punished, through death, for the lives he took.

Thus, the death penalty debate contains well-founded arguments on either side, and thse arguments are continually used as the debate rages in the United States. Of all the arguments used, however, the one that elicits the most response is the claim that the death penalty is a violation of civil rights. This is because, in Western countries, a person's civil and human rights are their greatest asset, inalienable rights that cannot be taken away by a governing body. Many non-profit organizations and faith groups believe that the death penalty is, indeed, a violation of these rights, and it would certainly seem this way. Most Western countries, such as Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Italy, have abolished the death penalty, leaving it a scarlet letter on the statue of liberty. After reviewing both sides of the argument, it is easy to understand advocates' position, but abolitionists make the strongest case. Having the death penalty reduces the United States to nothing more than a partner in crime. While statistics may show that the death penalty deters crime, good education, rehabilitative programs in prison, community service programs, and the involvement of non-profit and faith-based groups in the community can have similar, if not greater effects.

References

Liptak, A. (2007, Nov. 18). "Does Death Penalty Save Lives? A New Debate." Retrieved

May 28, 2009, from the New York Times. Web Site: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/us/18deter.html

White, D. (n.d.). "Pros & Cons of the Death Penalty." Retrieved May 28, 2009, from About.com. Web Site: http://usliberals.about.com/od/deathpenalty/i/DeathPenalty.htm

Sources Used in Document:

References

Liptak, A. (2007, Nov. 18). "Does Death Penalty Save Lives? A New Debate." Retrieved

May 28, 2009, from the New York Times. Web Site: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/us/18deter.html

White, D. (n.d.). "Pros & Cons of the Death Penalty." Retrieved May 28, 2009, from About.com. Web Site: http://usliberals.about.com/od/deathpenalty/i/DeathPenalty.htm

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