Debating the Death Penalty

Essay by loyalCollege, UndergraduateB+, March 2002

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?U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that there are two essential human rights that every human being has: the right not to be tortured and the right not to be killed (Prejean 182).? The death penalty obviously infringes these rights, but at what cost? There needs to be an equal punishment for those who have committed the crimes, but it is all too often an innocent person is put to death for a crime they did not commit.

The death penalty is not being used regularly as a method of deterring, preventing, and punishing criminals. As is stated in the opening chapter, ?More than half of the world?s nations ? including most Western democracies ? have abolished or have virtually abandoned [the death penalty] in practice (192).? This is probably because these countries understand that human rights cannot be violated; and understand that the death penalty only deters a minimal amount of crimes.

What makes the death penalty uncomfortable for so many Americans is that they believe that it targets only certain cases:

In this country the ? lethal injection gurney has been almost exclusively reserved for those who kill white people? the death penalty will be reserved for only the most heinous crimes, but? there is a great selectivity in the process (Prejean 179).

This is not always the case, but many people do see the prejudices on death row. They ask, is it fair that some cases do not get good representation and lose? But the justice system claims it keeps a blind eye. What makes the death penalty the most uncomfortable on death row is that a percentage of all who are executed end up being innocent.

As Hugo Adam Bedeau noted, ?? the death penalty is no more effective than imprisonment in deterring murder (192).?...