This piece talks about the death penalty and its practice, specificaly on how its internal tenants impact the society the punishment takes a part of. Also, it goes into detail about how barbaric and unpractical the death penalty is in this day in age.
The death penalty is a very controversial issue in our modern society. While some think that it is the correct atonement for abominable crimes, others think it is a travesty that such a barbaric act can be committed in our modern society. It is, in fact, amazing that one man can deem himself the judge of another’s fate. The atrocities that are the every day realities of the death penalty would bring a grown man to his knees. There two areas where the flaws in the death penalty can be seen; it’s abolition trends and it’s inevitability of error.
The death penalty has been abandoned by many of our world’s top nations. Today, 28 European nations have abandoned the death penalty in some way. The United Nations General Assembly said formally that, throughout the world, it would be best to, “progressively restrict the number of offenses for which the death penalty might be imposed, with a view to the desirability of abolishing this punishment.” (Adam Badau). Nations that regularly practice the death penalty; China, Iraq, and Iran are known to have instable and insurgent-lead governments that are a danger to society. The world trend of the past number of centuries points towards the abolition of the death penalty, and that is where our nation should head.
The death penalty has a proven history of follies and incorrect convictions. During the years of the French Revolution, Marquis de Lafayette said, “I shall ask for the abolition of the punishment of death until I have the infallibility of human judgement demonstrated to me.” (Adam Badau). The penalty of death is uniquely irreversible, thus, the conviction of death needs to be 100% correct 100% of the time. This fact is a fallacy. There are, on average, four entirely innocent people convicted of murder a year and most are convicted of the death penalty. There are hundreds of places where a murder trial can be erroneous, but it only takes one to kill an innocent man.
In it’s totality, the death penalty is a gamble. Going back to Marquis de Lafayette’s words, there will never be a day when the, “infallibility of human judgement,” can or will be demonstrated to anyone. The fact is that people can make errors, and people are in control of issuing the death penalty. It is a shame that in our great nation we still reduce ourselves to the eye for an eye technique of retribution. Though it logically makes sense, there is more. I would like to point to the great philosopher and thinker Henry David Thoreau while he was in jail. While in jail, HDT chastised the government for not making better use of him. It was fine just to jail him and keep him isolated, but they could have gotten much more if they had utilized his intellect. In other words, killing someone that kills someone else is pointless and shows a sign of a retardation of societal dynamics. I hope that our great nation can overcome the whole that it has dug itself into with the death penalty.
rcn.com by Hugo Adam Bedau