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Against The Death Penalty: a Persuasive Argument for Abolition

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Capital punishment, or commonly known as the death penalty is used in 53 countries, or 27% of countries around the world, to punish someone for committing something strictly prohibited whether it is murder, treason, espionage or genocide. But does the death penalty really make any difference in helping the rates of crimes committed? Or is it just perhaps a way of getting revenge for something that cannot be undone? In this persuasive essay I will argue that capital punishment should be abolished as it has proven of it not helping reduce crime rate, neither is it fair to punish someone that could have been innocent or not in their right mind.

As the quote from the professional American golfer Scott Langley said, “You can release an innocent man from prison, but you can’t release him from the grave”. Once someone executed, you cannot go back. The death penalty has put so many innocent lives over the past 36 years. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in the United-States in 1976, 1414 individuals have been put on death row, which 156 have been set free, after being proven non guilty. That is, 1 innocent free released for every 10 executed since the death penalty was reinstated. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown, two brothers with mental disabilities forcefully admitted to the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. Brown was sentenced to life imprisonment while McCollum spent 30 years on death row. It was until 2014, that he was proven innocent by a DNA evidence related to another imprisoned man for a similar crime. The two brothers were then both released. These brothers never got to have a normal life like any other. They never got help and support for their mental health. Even if they did commit that crime they should have never been imprisoned or sentenced to death, and rather provided help as they weren’t in their right minds. There are over a hundred of similar cases of people executed and accused for crimes that they did not commit. ‘You see, I truly believe that murderers are mentally ill, their brains don’t work like the rest of ours do. To deliberately kill someone requires crossing a profound boundary. Most of us couldn’t do it. We couldn’t even think about it. But they can. They do. Why? Because they’re mentally ill. And fundamentally, as a society, I believe it is barbaric to kill people who are ill.’ Says Elaine Whitfield Sharp, an American defense attorney, that has been working with murder cases for over 20 years.

Statistics over the years have shown that the death penalty has not helped in the decrease of the crime rates. Looking into Alabama, a state with around 4 800 000 000 residents, where the capital punishment is used, has around 170 000 crimes every year, which 25 500 are considered violent. If we now look at a state where death penalty has been abolished, taking Michigan as an example, statistics show that it has 200 000 crimes annually. There are more crimes in Michigan than Alabama by 30 000 but considering that Michigan has a population of almost 10 million residents that is not bad at all. A research done by Huffington post has found that out of the 25 most dangerous states in the U.S 20 of them have death penalty, including to Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Alabama, Delaware, Nevada, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Kentucky, Virginia and Arizona. That goes to prove that the death penalty does lead to big increase of crimes committed, and that capital punishment does not help whatsoever in reducing crime rates in the United-States.

The last argument against death penalty is that, as various studies have proven, the costs for the death sentence are very expensive compared to other, less harsh types of sentences or punishments. The states could save millions of dollars by eliminating the death penalty and replacing it by things that would benefit the society and communities in the long-term effect. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death penalty, a 2012 study has shown that 4 billion dollars have been used for the death penalty since 1978, in California alone, and that changing the death sentence to a life imprisonment or another type of sentence could save at least 170 million dollars a year. The money used on death penalty can be used wisely to make improvements to our communities and reduce crimes, as well a save loads of money for the government. Many things such as early childhood education, gang prevention, drug and alcohol treatment, and especially have been proven to help diminish the rate of crimes in youth and adults in the future. All these programs and benefits that we can add to our communities can help us build stronger communities and happier and healthier people. It will not only help our society, but also the state by saving money so everyone wins.

In conclusion, I think death penalty should be abolished in the United States. It cannot be undone which puts many innocent lives at risk. Additionally, statistics have proven an increase of crimes in the states where death penalty is used. The millions of dollars used on death penalty can be used to make more programs for mental health, free and better education, better access to healthcare, and add more things to our community to guarantee a better life for our future generations. 

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Against the Death Penalty: A Persuasive Argument for Abolition. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from
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