Argumentative essay on death penalty

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In 1994, Seth Penalver was sentenced to death for a brutal murder that involved three individuals. There was no actual physical evidence relating him to the crime. The only evidence they had was a video with poor quality in which the murderer’s face could not be seen as well. Penalver remained in custody until 2012, when he was finally acquitted of all charges. (Florida: Seth Penalver, acquitted in 2012) Death Penalty is a crime. The death penalty is unjustifiable, hypocritical and leads to false imprisonment that results in executions that are later discovered to be found.

Seth Penalver case is just among the countless cases that have been recorded by individuals who have been on the verge of death due to poor apprehension tactics in their case. Investigations that have been carried out in numerous states following the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976 reveals that there are numerous people who were executed yet innocent. It is inevitable to state that the execution of any innocent individual is morally reprehensible. Despite the effort that has been put into guaranteeing proper investigation and conviction of individuals brought in front of a court, no case is fool proof (Ogletree 18). Thus, there might be the conviction of people into death row yet innocent. Based on this, it is recommendable that all individuals, if found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, are given a sentence of life without parole which is reasonably effective. The sentencing of death to some criminals might put them out of the misery they might have endured in prison.

The manipulation of the judicial system has been evident where in history it is recorded that factors such as race influenced the death sentence in certain states. This is evident in cases whereby if an African American murdered a white man, he or she was likely to be sentenced to death which is unlike if the situation was reversed. In states such as Oregon, there have been numerous accounts of biases whereby the blacks were victimized by being given the death sentence, which would not have been the case if a white man killed an African American. The death row system has also been a significant waste of the taxpayers money whereby in cases such as the 1995 Washington County murder cases an estimated $1.5 million shillings was spent yet only one of the three suspects was sentenced to death (Ellsworth and Samuel 28). An investigation conducted by the Oregon Department of Administrative Service has made statements that the abolishment of the death row system would save the federal government a substantial amount of resources that could be utilized in significant development projects.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that may be rendered against a suspect, it is important to note that this does not necessarily make them guilty. However, the lack of a proper defense, particularly among suspects who do not have the financial resources to hire a good lawyer, are likely to be found guilty and sentenced to death. An analysis of the numerous cases that the death penalty has been reversed there has been overwhelming evidence pointing out poor counsel. A study conducted by the Columbia University argues that an estimated 68% of appeals made by individuals sentenced to death have been reversed due to ineffective assistance of counsel. Based on this understanding, it would be inappropriate to continuously sentence people to death row as there are numerous factors that could contribute to misjudgment.

Despite the numerous arguments that have been presented in support of the abolishment of the death penalty, there continues to exist counter arguments who believe that the death penalty should be upheld. Among the substantial arguments that have been presented is that, the public execution of the said offenders serves a public reminder to criminals that crime is not rewarding. Speculations reveal that an evaluation of the rate of homicide in numerous states significantly dropped after the incorporation of the death sentence (Hood and Carolyn 7). The further argument presented in support of the death penalty states that the execution of a convicted felon guarantees that the killer will never be engaged in the act again. This argument has been supported by the fact that a significant number of people have been killed by convicted felons who managed to get parole or escaped from jail.

Irrespective of the varied arguments that have been presented in support of the death penalty, I believe that everyone has the capacity to change. It would, therefore, be inappropriate to sentence convicted felons to death without giving them an opportunity to express their remorse towards their actions. It is important that other means of dealing with criminals who are engaged in great crimes is developed because the death sentence has seemingly had no positive impact on lowering the crime rate.

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  1. Ellsworth, Phoebe C., and Samuel R. Gross. “Hardening of the attitudes: Americans’ views on the death penalty.” Journal of Social Issues 50.2 (1994): 19-52.
  2. Hood, Roger, and Carolyn Hoyle. The death penalty: A worldwide perspective. OUP Oxford, 2015.
  3. Ogletree Jr, Charles J. “Black man’s burden: Race and the death penalty in America.” Or. L. Rev. 81 (2002): 15.
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