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Sep 05 2016
by Aggie Kallinicou

6 Reasons Capital Punishment Needs to Be Eradicated

By Aggie Kallinicou - Sep 05 2016
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Recently I've been reading the book Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean, and it's completely opened my eyes to the reality of one of the most unfair and barbaric practices carried out in our country: capital punishment. After finishing the book, I was inspired to take a stand to end this practice, and I hope that these reasons will inspire you to do the same.

1. It's discriminatory. 

According to Amnesty USA, "the single most reliable predictor of whether someone will be sentenced to death is the race of the victim."  Someone who has committed murder is many times more likely to be sentenced to death if their victim was white. Therefore, juries seem to place more value on the life of a white person than the life of someone who is a minority. 

2. The cost of killing someone is enormous.

The average cost of a capital punishment case (including execution) is $1.26 million, whereas the average cost of a life imprisonment case (including incarceration) is $740,000. It costs less to pay for the needs of a prisoner for their entire life than to end their existence. Practicing the death penalty is costing states millions of dollars that they could be using elsewhere. For example, why not use this money toward education instead? There are plenty of ways to use it in a more beneficial way. 

3. Innocent people often end up on death row.

In 2003, 10 people were released from death row due to being proven innocent. Imagine if even one of them had been killed. The state would have been murdering someone who never committed the crime they were being killed for. Since the death penalty was introduced, over 150 people have been released from death row upon being proven innocent. That's too large of a number to ignore. Our justice system is not perfect, so how can we risk killing people who might not even be guilty?

4. Most countries have banned it.

Since studies have shown that there is no benefit to capital punishment, 101 countries have outlawed it and 140 countries have either outlawed it or no longer practice it. Why hasn't the U.S. followed suit? Countries all over the world have realized the truth about capital punishment and its effects, so it's hard to understand why our government still hasn't. Although activists all over the country have continuously fought to end the practice of capital punishment, the government still has not taken action. 

5. It does not deter crime in the slightest.

The southern region of the United States performs 80% of executions, but has the highest murder rate in the whole country. In the Northeast, 1% of the country's executions are carried out, and it has the lowest murder rate. These statistics speak for themselves, killing people in no way stops others from committing the same crimes. If the original purpose of the death penalty is no longer applicable (if it ever was), why are we still carrying it out?

6. To put it simply, it's barbaric and vengeful. 

Even though in Gregg v. Georgia the Supreme Court reaffirmed that capital punishment is not considered "cruel and unusual punishment," how can this be accurate? Imagine sitting in prison for months (sometimes even years), knowing that you are going to be murdered by the state and counting down the days that you have left. To me, that sounds like torture. If forcing someone to endure that isn't cruel, then I don't know what is. 

Why do we kill people who have killed other people to prove that killing people is wrong? I support justice that works, but the death penalty isn't justice and it doesn't work. It doesn't end crime, it only ends lives. In the 21st century, there is simply no place for something as archaic and ineffective as capital punishment. To do your part to end capital punishment, go to Amnesty USA and get involved

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Aggie Kallinicou - DePaul University

Aggie Kallinicou is a sophomore at DePaul University in Chicago majoring in Environmental Studies and double minoring in Food Studies and Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies.

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