Abolishing the Death Penalty Essay

Submitted By cclausen41
Words: 1936
Pages: 8

Catherine Clausen
Mr. Dwinell
AP Language, Period 2
March 17, 2013
Abolishing the Death Penalty Since the beginning of mankind, people have been held accountable for their actions. Many societies throughout history have used death as a punishment for crimes, from Babylon to China to Rome to Britain (Reggio). Recently, societies have been questioning the effectiveness of the death penalty. In fact, only two European countries (Belarus and Russia) still allow the death penalty, and death sentences are extremely rare in Russia ("Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries."). Societies today wonder if the death penalty really decreases crime rates. It is really cheaper than life in prison? Some may say that the answer is yes to these questions; however there is significant evidence to refute these claims. Not only that, but there are other points that help to substantiate the claim that the death penalty should be abolished and this paper will only scratch the surface of those reasons. The death penalty should be abolished because it does not deter crime, people can be wrongly convicted/executed, and it costs more than life in prison. The death penalty should be abolished because people can be wrongly convicted and/or executed. Even if there is substantial evidence to prove that someone may not have committed a crime, executions can still go on. For example, in 1990 Claude Jones was charged with the murder of a convenience store clerk. He was convicted based on a testimony given by an accomplice of the robbery (who received a reduced sentence in return) and a strand of hair that was supposedly Jones’. Ten years later, technology had been developed to determine whether or not the hair belonged to Jones. In 2010, the results from a test on that strand of hair showed that the hair belonged to not Jones, but the victim. Not only was the trial somewhat unfair (since the accomplice of the robbery was given a reduced sentence for testifying), but the DNA evidence poked holes through the prosecution’s argument. Even though no one was really sure if Jones was actually guilty, Texas executed him anyway (Mann). This is just one of many examples of instances when people might have been wrongly executed. No life should ever be taken if there is any amount of doubt present, because no innocent person should be killed for a crime they did not commit. While DNA evidence can help exonerate wrongly-convicted people (as of December 26, 2012, 142 people have been exonerated from death row from 26 states (“Innocence and the Death Penalty.")) and can help ensure that innocent people are not wrongly convicted, DNA evidence is often not available. “Although invaluable, DNA testing cannot always be put to use. In many cases, because of the nature of the crime, a DNA test cannot identify the murderer. In other cases DNA samples were not collected at the crime scene and preserved in a state suitable for testing today, or DNA testing of sufficient sophistication either was not available or not performed. And most significant, in some cases relevant samples may no longer be at hand because the evidence was destroyed” ("DNA Testing and the Death Penalty." ). A lack of DNA evidence means that people can still be wrongly convicted and/or executed. Even George Gascon, a former police chief (Mesa, AZ, and San Francisco, CA) and current District Attorney for San Francisco understands this and said, “The criminal justice system makes mistakes and the possibility of executing innocent people is both inherently wrong and morally reprehensible.” Even someone who makes a living locking “bad guys” up, understands that there is no way to prevent the execution of an innocent person besides eliminating the death penalty. The death penalty should be abolished because it does not deter crime. Not only have many authorities noted this, but it is also evident in many graphs showing crime rates in death penalty states as well as non-death penalty states. Former US