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The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished

Ashima Agrawal |
April 9, 2013 | 10:49 p.m. PDT


James Holmes may be sentenced to death. (David Seaton, Creative Commons)
James Holmes may be sentenced to death. (David Seaton, Creative Commons)
Last week, many news sources reported that James Holmes, the man responsible for the shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater last year, could receive the death penalty. There are many people who support this possibility, and also many people who support the use of the death penalty in general. Then, there are those such as myself who think that any use of the death penalty is immoral.

Applying the death penalty to criminals lowers us to the level of the criminals over whom we claim moral superiority. Rather than letting a criminal rot in jail as punishment, thereby giving them time they can use to adequately reflect on their actions and potentially become a better person, putting a criminal to death simply reinforces the medieval maxim of "an eye for an eye." We should be past that.

Some may argue that ending the use of the death penalty would require more prison space for the criminals who would have been executed, and thereby cost more money. Yet, executing a criminal costs taxpayers more money than if they were sentenced to life in prison; they remain on death row for years as their lawyers work to appeal the case or the sentence.

Besides, no matter how cruel someone's actions, no one deserves to die for them. Even if a person was sentenced to death for killing multiple people, should they be forced to endure the same fate as their victims? If we kill people who kill other people, we create an unending cycle of killing. Wishing death on someone is possibly the worst thought a person could have, and if we wish death on a murderer, what makes us better than they? I want to believe that, as a society, we are better than that.

Hanging is no longer an option for carrying out the death penalty in most U.S. states, removed from the list for its immoraliity. Why stop there? Lethal injection should be removed as well, and the death penalty should be banned; they are both immoral, too. Not only that, but they are also sins, according to many religions which decree that it is a sin to kill, no matter whom one is killing and no matter what he or she has done. Killing a criminal is not an exception.


Reach Contributor Ashima Agrawal here.


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Anonymous (not verified) on February 6, 2014 2:48 PM

The argument can go both ways. On one hand, the death penalty is considered by some as immoral, unethical, unjust, etc. on the other hand, the death penalty is the proper punishment for those who have committed murders. Ethics aside, it's takes an additional 4 years of prosecuting an individual for the death penalty, an amount that we cannot afford to spend as we are already In tremendous debt. That's millions or billions of dollars spent on just ONE individual. The government isn't going to waste away that amount of money when they can spend it on something else, and that's a harsh fact I'm sure we are all aware of. At the same time, crime has increased so much, that they are forced to shorten the jail time of criminals in order to have room for the new ones. That means those who should have been sentenced for a much longer period will get out sooner. Now here's the real question: which costs more? Which will have a less impact on our economy?
I know ethics are important, and each of us have our own strong opinions on what should be vs. reality.

Anonymous (not verified) on December 10, 2013 9:24 PM

u are retarded. that is all.

Anonymous (not verified) on November 15, 2013 12:12 AM

I disagree with you. There are acts in which a person can forfeit their right to life. If some one tortures someone for days until finally killing them, than yeah, so sad to bad you lost your right to life. However, that being said, I agree that the death penalty should be abolished. As our justice system is run by humans errors and mistakes are made. For example, Hurricane Ruben Carter convicted of a murder he did not commit because he was black. Therefore, the death penalty must be illegal. The death of one innocent man is one too many.

COW (not verified) on November 1, 2013 8:01 AM

I like cows

A Nonny Mouse (not verified) on September 13, 2013 1:01 AM

Im up for the cheaper solution. I thought it would be death but if it is more expensive than to just throw them in a cell then just let them die in prison.

K Lawliet (not verified) on June 3, 2013 12:41 PM

Well I think this article is very interesting. I live in a country where the Death Penalty is not legal but find the punishment quite fascinating,while I agree with some of the view point of people such as that people like that will not be able to develop feelings and do not have a conscience, some of these disorders can be treated. The thing that bothers me about the Death penalty is not only do you have to go through (at most) years knowing that you will die and it could be at any time,once your time has been certified, it would be so difficult to get your head around that. I do not agree with some of the methods of execution either, such as the electric chair, which to me seems barbaric and a new way to end these people (if the penalty is continued) has to be sorted out, I also think that the time should be kept from the inmates and they should be killed like they do in Dignitas, they may not have been nice people but the way it is done should be a lot better.

Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2013 7:22 AM

If there is a victim, kill the perpetrator. If anyone says it would cost more than keeping them in jail for life... they are an idiot. Make their death ironic. Stab a stabber. Shoot a shooter. Rape a guy with a bat imbedded with nails. Just get them out. If you have a problem with innocents getting killed, make the government pay for trials so the perpetrator gets a good lawyer to.

Anonymous (not verified) on May 13, 2013 6:38 PM

Great Article

TN (not verified) on April 9, 2013 11:32 PM

Time to "reflect on their actions" doesn't usually apply to these sorts of individuals. You should educate yourself on psychological disorders like psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder. Criminals of these magnitudes commit the crimes they do because they are not physically capable of understanding emotion, morals, or any of the things in place that allow normal functioning humans to determine right and wrong. They do not have a CONSCIENCE. There's no "cure" or "fix" for these individuals either because the the structures or connections for emotion and abstract concepts are just not there. Severe cases of these disorders remain dangerous and threatening to the rest of society and to keep them in prison takes up space for years to "rot."

Speaking of "rot in jail"... that seems to contradict your thought that they'll become a better person. Do they just magically become "good" one day in the "rotting" environment of prison? To say rotting in jail sounds like you want them to wait for years to die in jail. So how is that any better than the death penalty? A period of reflection, if that happens as you say, to understand their terrible acts of crime won't really matter if they'll die in the end anyways, will it now?

tl;dr -- Educate yourself on psychology. Take an abnormal psych class. Read Robert Hare's book "Without a Conscience." He's spent his career working around and researching these types of criminals inside and outside of the prison system. Then come back and see if you sing the same tune.

Anonymous (not verified) on April 9, 2013 11:05 PM

Awesome article! I absolutely agree about your position. I am glad that someone has finally brought more attention to this often unpopular position!