Abolish the Death Penalty

The death penalty should be abolished for the following reasons:

1. There are people on death row who are innocent. Individuals are being let out all the time after serving many years on death row facing execution. Killing innocents is an unjustifiable risk, especially when life in prison without parole is an option and sufficient for incapacitation.

2. The poor are disproportionately executed given their representation in homicide statistics. Poor people are at a marked disadvantage when it comes to defending themselves against the power of the state. The death penalty is class biased and therefore unjust. Most serious punishment is biased and unjust because of this, however the death penalty is irrevocable.

3. Blacks are disproportionately executed given their representation in homicide statistics. Blacks are at a marked disadvantage when it comes to defending themselves against the power of the state, both because blacks are disproportionately poor and the system is racially discriminatory. The death penalty is race biased and therefore unjust.

4. It is not a deterrent. In fact, it increases murder where it is practiced (what has been called the brutalization effect). This is because the state sanctions lethal violence. The state should not engage in behavior that increases the likelihood of lethal violence. The state, by killing people, puts others at risk of being killed or injured.

5. It is inefficient. The costs of killing a person is far more than the costs of keeping them in prison for life. It costs more because we have safeguards in place so that the risk of executing innocent person is less. The safeguards must remain in place as long as we practice the death penalty, so there is no way to make the punishment cheaper than imprisonment.

6. Incarceration is an effective method of incapacitation (and you don’t risk killing an innocent person). The more rational alternative is preferred.

7. The death penalty as currently practiced violates the eighth amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishments. It is therefore unconstitutional. It is unlikely that killing a person can with any certainty be made free of suffering, either physically or psychologically.

8. The taking of human life, except in self-defense or to save the lives of the innocent, is unjustifiable homicide. The death penalty is employed under neither exception and is therefore unjustifiable homicide – that is murder.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

2 thoughts on “Abolish the Death Penalty”

  1. My answers :
    1º No. Crossing Lines: What’s Wrong with the Wrongful Conviction Movement https://www.newcity.com/2014/02/20/crossing-lines-whats-wrong-with-the-wrongful-conviction-movement/#more-10049 Martin Preib versus the Innocence Industry https://tinatrent.com/?p=6786 Moreover Amnesty International and other humanitarians search ban LWOP (It sounds to you Kenneth Allen McDuff, Darryl Kemp, Joe Morse, Harvey Louis Carrignan, Bennie Demps, Eddie Simon Wein, Mad Dog Taborsky).

    2º Mostly poor are disproportionately executed because have mostly poor; not for clasism.

    3º RAND Study Finds No Evidence of Racial Bias in Federal Prosecutors’ Decisions to Seek Death Penalty from 1995-2000 https://www.rand.org/news/press/2006/07/17.html vía @RANDCorporation

    4ºSure? 10 Paroled Serial Killers And Murderers https://listverse.com/2017/08/26/10-paroled-serial-killers-and-murderers/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=SocialWarfare

    5º That is a fiction created by the anti-capital-punishmentlobby, in another attempt to persuade legislators to outlaw the death penalty.

    It involves a good bit of slick argumentation, bolstered by a pile of made-up statistics.

    The hard fact is that if a State keeps a prisoner for life, in his later years that guy will need a great deal of medical care. Very costly care, and he won’t be eligible for Medicare. The State will have to pay for it, and it is ruinously expensive. Way costlier than legal fees for the reviews and appeals which must be completed prior to an execution.
    6º Remember Lemuel Smith? : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemuel_Smith
    7º The Supreme Court think different. Clear that after abolishing death the “reformers” would seek to attack LWOP next, then any long prison sentences.
    Please, I deeply respect for human rights of the victims also Activists fight against the Death Penalty but want to keep the LWOP. I Just want that victims are not deceived as happened in Spain.
    8º Seriously? Someone said ” The right to life is not absolute. Almost everybody agrees there is no absolute right to life. We take life in self defense. We take a life to throw off tyranny. ” I think his name was Andrew.

  2. There are innocent people on death row. That’s a fact. Calling it the “innocence industry” doesn’t change facts of the significance of them. Like “victims rights,” the term “innocence industry” is a rhetorical device to falsely delegitimize efforts to prevent injustice. It’s propaganda.

    Poverty, just as affluence, beyond gatherer and hunter societies, is a consequence of class relations. The poor, whether working people or redundant labor, exist in a class system. Your attempt at rebutting this point falsely denies the reality of social class.

    I wrote this in 2007. I no longer accept point 3 as stated. It needs to be articulated differently. The disproportionately concerns the race of victims. White victims account for approximately half of all murder victims, yet four out of every five capital cases involve white victims. Black perpetrators with white victims are the most likely to be sentenced to death. Randall Kennedy has written extensively on the racial disproportionalities in the enforcement of the criminal law. See also John Hagan.

    I don’t get the relevance of the website to point 4.

    You did not rebut point 5. You stated an opinion.

    As for point 6, exceptions do not disprove generalizations. On the whole, incarceration is an effective incapacitation strategy.

    Who doesn’t know the Supreme Court thinks differently from me on a number of issues? The court also thinks corporations are persons and that the Second Amendment indicates a personal right to keep and bear arms. Courts are often wrong. Which is why courts overturn precedent. In fact, the Court just overturned one concerning the necessity of the unanimity of juries in criminal cases.

    Taking the life of a person in captivity does not fall under my list of justifications for the taking of life. You cannot use my words against me in this case. I was very clear about the necessary conditions.

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