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Capital Punishment: Is It Morally Right? Essay Sample

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Capital Punishment: Is It Morally Right? Essay Sample

Capital punishment is one of the most controversial topics among Americans today. Since every person has his or her own opinion on the topic, either for or against, the question always raised is “Is it morally right?” To many death penalty abolitionists, the answer is very clear and they believe capital punishment is not only morally wrong, but ethnically wrong as well. Human beings do not have the right to take a life of another individual; moreover, innocent people are being executed. Many times the race of the accused clearly plays a part in whether or not the death penalty is required. As Americans we are taught to be in favor of the death penalty; however three things would have to be proven. That it is morally correct, that there is a valid amoral reason for it, and the risk of executing the innocent.

One argument, based on morality, commonly used against the death penalty is that it is an insult to the purity of human life. If one believes that, morally, murdering someone who does deserve the punishment of death, one must also decide whether it is justified in every case. Many states in the U.S. have a system of frustrating and justifying circumstances. These circumstances are used in deciding if the death penalty is appropriate.

There has been much debate on the exact purpose of punishment and to this day is still not agreed on. It is clear to me that it is morally correct to punish criminals; however, the actual moral level of punishment is difficult to establish. Relief and piece of mind is certainly something that some victim’s relatives hope to receive from the execution of the criminal. The execution puts an “end to it all” or a sort of closure in a way that a sentence of life without parole would not. The relatives must ask themselves if the relief they receive from the execution is really worth the criminal’s life. Who are we, as Americans, to play God?

There is no proof that any innocent people have been executed but it is a fact that over sixty-five people have been released and declared innocent from death row since 1973 (Innocence and the Death Penalty: The Increasing Danger of Executing the Innocent by Richard C. Dieter). The size of this figure implies that there are errors in the system and creates the possibility that innocent people have been executed. Some of the people released did definitely commit the crimes of which they were charged previously. In 1987, a study published by the Stanford Law Review found at least 350 people in capital cases between 1900 and 1985 in America were later found innocent of the crime for which they were convicted. Of these statistics, 139 people were sentenced to death and as many as twenty-three were executed.

The only solution to protect the innocent and minorities from an extremely defective system is to issue a suspension on executions, even for the most gruesome and shameful of crimes. In a judicial system where prejudices, hate, and political pressure play a large part, deciding whether a person should live or die cannot be left up to the other individuals who are as human and as imperfect as those they are sentencing. There are many arguments for as well as against the death penalty; nonetheless, I firmly believe that it is morally and ethnically wrong.

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