Against the Death Penalty Outline essay


Againstthe Death Penalty


  1. 1, 188 people were executed in the United States between 1977 and 2009.

  2. Death penalty has been controversial since the colonial era.

  3. This paper argues that death penalty should be abolished.

  1. A case against death penalty

  1. Death penalty is immoral.

  2. Death penalty is not effective in deterring capital crimes. It promotes revenge and violence in the society.

  3. The constitutionality of death penalty has been challenged.

  4. Death penalty increases the burden and clogs the justice system.

  5. Death penalty causes irrevocable mistake in cases where new evidence exonerate the convicted individual.

  6. Death penalty promotes discrimination in the criminal justice system.

  1. Conclusion

  1. Death penalty should be abolished.

  2. It has negative impacts on the criminal justice system.

  3. Death penalty has not place in the modern civilized society.

Againstthe Death Penalty

Deathpenalty and the controversies associated with it have existed in theUnited States since the colonial era. The death penalty also referredto a capital punishment can be defined as punishment by death, whichis sanctioned by the government. In many jurisdictions where thedeath penalty is applicable, it is used to punish crimes which areclassified as capital crimes or capital offenses. The rationale andmorality of the death penalty have been disputed resulting into a lotof controversies. It is estimated that between 1977 and 2009, 1,188people were executed in the United States. The majority of thesecases of execution involved treason and espionage and violent capitalcrimes. There are several methods that are used in the execution ofcapital offenders. The most common method in the modern justicesystem is lethal injection (Kirchgässner, 448). A large number ofpeople have been opposed to the use of death penalty in criminaljustice. On the other hand, other people view it as the mosteffective method of dealing with capital crimes. This paper arguesthat death penalty should be abolished.

Acase against death penalty

Thedeath penalty should be abolished because it contravenes basic moralprinciples. Opponents of the death penalty have argued that theultimate question is whether it is moral to kill someone because heor she has committed a particular crime. Any killing or murder isimmoral irrespective of the crimes committed by the offender. Bysanctioning murder, the government promotes immorality in thesociety. It is important to appreciate the fact that there arenumerous weaknesses in the criminal justice system. The legacy ofbias and discrimination in the criminal justice system where peopleare treated differently depending on their social, cultural andracial background aggravates the moral question in the administrationof death penalty. Irrespective of the provocation, it is immoral totake an individual’s life. Additionally, ethics in the medicalprofession does not provide provisions for use lethal injections toend life. It is immoral and unethical for a medical professional tocause harm. It is also contrary to the moral teachings of the majorreligions in the American society (Chad, 595).

Thereis no evidence that death penalty is an effective deterrence orretribution for capital crimes. Proponents of the death penalty haveargued that executing a murderer is a form of retribution. However,retribution by killing a person because he or she killed anotherperson is revenge. Revenge is considered to be one of the lowestforms of human rationality. Although retribution is applicable insome cases, it is not applicable in cases where violence or murder isinvolved. This is because the death penalty propagates a cycle ofviolence and a culture of violence. Traditionally, the death penaltywas more acceptable in the “eye for an eye” society which wasbased on revenge. The culture of revenge has no place in the modernsociety because of its ineffectiveness in solving problems facing thesociety. While the individual may have committed a heinous crime,executing the offender bring about grief to his family. The emotionaldrain of seeing a family member suffer is not dependent on thecriminal act committed by the individual. Additionally, there is noevidence that subjecting capital offenders to death penalty detercapital crimes more effectively compared to other forms ofpunishments such as life imprisonment. Jurisdictions that haveabolished death penalty do not record higher rates of capital crimes. Criminologists have argued that life imprisonment is a moreeffective deterrence to capital crimes and therefore death penalty isunnecessary (Charles and John, 123).

Theconstitutionality of death penalty has also been challenged.According to the United States constitution, criminals are consideredas human being just like law abiding citizens. Thus, the governmenthas a responsibility of protecting the civil rights and human dignityof the offenders. Actions or decision by government agency thatsubject offenders to a fate that is prohibited by the “principle ofcivil treatment” is unconstitutional. Based on this argument, itcan be argued that because the death penalty is unusual and cruel, itviolates the eighth and fourteenth amendments of the United Statesconstitution (Stephanie, 107).

Deathpenalty results into increased financial burden and clogs thecriminal justice system. Evidence indicates that the American justicesystem is overwhelmed by the high number of criminal cases. Everyyear, the United States government spends billions of dollars incriminal cases and housing criminals in the correctional facilities.Questions have been raised on whether death penalty is more expensivecompared to imprisonment of the offenders and how it affects thecriminal justice system. Although many people may not realize thecost of capital punishment, it is more costly to the taxpayerscompared to imprisonment. Due to the additional procedures, legalrequirements, and appeals, death penalty cost up to five times morethat other forms of punishment. Handling capital punishment casesrequire more pretrial time, more experts and investigators, moreattorneys and the case is likely to take significantly more timebefore it is concluded. Additionally, death row suspects and inmatesrequire high security and special handling which further increasesthe cost of punishment. It is important to note that some of thedeath penalty cases may take up to 20 years before they areconcluded. This increases the burden on the already overstretchedjustice system (Scott, 14).

Deathpenalty increases the risk of irrevocable mistakes in cases whereinnocent individuals are convicted based on wrong or inadequateevidence. There are several incidences where new evidence, mainly DNAevidence have exonerated individuals who were previously convicted ofcriminal activities. Some of these individuals who have been provedinnocent were on death row. These incidences suggest that thecriminal justice system is not perfect and therefore cannot determinethe guilt of an offender without some risk of mistake. Thus, there isa likelihood of executing an innocent individual (Chad, 595). Whilean offender who has been proven innocent based on new evidence can bereleased from prison, he cannot be brought back to life. Since thedeath penalty was reinstated in the United States, 87 convictedindividuals have been freed from the death row due to new evidence.This suggests that a significant number of individuals are likely tobe executed based on wrong evidence or unjust trial (Chad, 595).

Deathpenalty promotes discrimination based on race and social class in thecriminal justice system. Opponents of the death penalty have arguedthat the poor and less privileged members of the society are the onlypeople who face death penalty due to inequality in the criminaljustice system. This is not because they commit more capital crimes,but because they are unable to navigate through the justice system.In the modern criminal justice system, the outcome of a case islargely influenced by whether the accused person is able to getadequate defense or not. Thus, while the rich can afford to payhighly skilled defense attorneys increasing their chances of avoidingthe death penalty, the poor cannot afford these services. Two-thirdsof all offenders on death row in the United States are AfricanAmericans or of other minority races. Although the African Americansconstitute about 13 percent of the United States population, half ofdeath row offenders are African Americans. It has been argued thatdeath sentence in the criminal justice is racially biased resultingin racial disparity and discrimination (Londono, 95).


Thereare many reasons why the death penalty should be abolished. Althoughsome people are convinced by the arguments in favor of death penalty,it rational has been challenged. Killing another person because he orshe has committed a crime is immoral. It also violates the principleof civil treatment and therefore is violates the constitution. Thedeath penalty has negative impacts on the criminal justice systembecause it is more expensive compared to imprisonment and promotesdiscrimination and bias based on race or class. Death isirreversible. As a result of the high number of errors in sentencingdue to inadequate evidence, the mistake is irrevocable. Additionally,the death penalty does not deter capital crimes and promotes aculture of violence and revenge. Therefore, the death penalty has isinappropriate in the modern justice system.


Chad,Flanders. The Case against the Death Penalty. New Criminal LawReview: Internationaland Interdisciplinary Journal,16(4), (2013) 595-620.

Charles,F. Manski and John, V. Pepper. Deterrence and the Death Penalty:Partial Identification Analysis Using Repeated Cross Sections.Journalof Quantitative Criminology.29 (1), (2013): 123-141.

Londono,O. A Retributive Critique of Racial Bias and Arbitrariness inCapital Punishment. Journalof Social Philosophy,44 (2013): 95–105.

Kirchgässner,G. (2011). &quotEconometric estimates of deterrence of the deathpenalty: Facts or ideology?&quot Kyklos,64(3), 448–478.

Scott,Vollum. TheDeath Penalty: Constitutional Issues, Commentaries, and Case Briefs.Routledge, 2014.

Stephanie,Boys. The Death Penalty: An Unusual Punishment America is Inflictingupon Itself. CriticalCriminology19(2), (2011) 107-118.