Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper
Why I oppose the death penalty
A central principle of a justice society is that every person has an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why I oppose the death penalty. If you are Queer, or a woman who does not behave in socially acceptable ways, courts and juries are stacked against you, including those that can send you to death row. This is particularly true if, in addition to being queer, you are poor or not white. If anti-queer in not enough to oppose the death penalty try ethics, if killing is wrong for an individual, it s wrong for cold bureaucratic machinery. If you can afford good legal representation, you won t end up on death row. Over 90 percent of defendants charged with capitol crimes are indigent and cannot afford to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent them. They are forced to use inexperienced, underpaid court-appointed attorneys.
In most states the pay for court appointed attorneys is so low that lawyers assigned to capital cases will lose $20-$30 an hour if they do an adequate job. Many capital trials last less then a week, hardly enough time to present a good defense. An FBI study shows that states, which abolish the death penalty, averaged lower murder rates than states, which have not. We cannot turn to dictionaries or law books to provide us with our moral definitions. If we could do that, there would be no reason to practice philosophy. It is often said that in order to be moral creatures, we must have free will, which includes the possibility of choosing evil. Then how can we deny the humanity of those who choose evil, or declare them to both of a fundamentally different moral constitution? Evil is within human boundaries.
By applying capital punishment, we imply that we are objective judges (which we are not). That we are perfect (which we are not), that we have the right to assign punishment (which we do not), and finally and most significantly, by killing a prisoner, we affirm that we deserve to live. It is an action of pride, which seeks to affirm our superiority to someone else. To say that the death penalty is racist does not imply that black men are exceptionally violent. It means that the death penalty itself is applied in a racist fashion because it is a component of a racist justice system and a racist society.
Many people would argue that the solution in not to execute fewer black murderers, but instead, to execute more white murderers. They think the solution to the death penalty s racism is to make sure that criminals are executed on the basis of what they have done, not to abolish the death penalty altogether.
Intuitively, it would be cheaper to kill someone than to sustain him for years; in practice, execution actually costs more because of extra legal expenses. So, pro-death penalty people argue that if appeals were limited, the excessive legal costs would be eliminated. Even if it turns out that execution is 1000 times cheaper than incarceration, that s not a basis for an ethical decision.