Capital punishment - we should think twice

Hazel McCallion Senior Public School
Mississauga, Ontario

By Khalid B. (Grade 7)

Prior to his execution on Sept. 15, 1992, Willie Leroy Jones had said, "Killing me is not the answer, thereís a place called prison." He, along with many of the other inmates on death row, felt this way.

Many inmates feel capital punishment should be abolished and rightly so. Capital punishment serves no legitimate purpose in our society. Since the 18th century, people have been questioning the morality of capital punishment. Early acts of capital punishment are justifiably the cruelest acts of punishment toward mankind that this world has ever seen. Early acts of capital punishment included crucifixion, boiling in oil, quartering, impalement, beheading, burning alive, crushing, tearing apart and drowning. Now, in this day and age, these acts are seen as cruel. But who is to say the electric chair or lethal injections arenít just as cruel and inhumane?

In most cases, the argument supporting capital punishment is that it serves as a deterrent. However, statistical evidence proves that capital punishment has no effect on homicide rates. The homicide rates in American states with and without capital punishment are very similar. A study conducted in the 1980ís showed that,as a group, the states with capital punishment averaged 7.5 homicides per 100,000 population. The group of states without capital punishment averaged rates of 7.4 per 100,000 population. The states without capital punishment had a lower homicide rate than those that did. This means that capital punishment did not decrease the homicide rates. In addition to the fact that capital punishment doesnít serve as a deterrent, too many people are being wrongfully executed for acts of crime they did not commit.

"The death penalty is an irrevocable act of justice," says Leslie Cantu. Many people feel that a wrongfully convicted murderer can be pardoned from prison but it is impossible to pardon the corpse of an alleged killer. According to a survey done by Stanford University, at least 23 Americans have been wrongfully executed and 75 have been wrongfully convicted in the 20th century.

Many cases have been documented regarding innocence after a prison term. A perfect example is the case of Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee who were accused of killing two white men. They were released in 1975 (one year before capital punishment was returned) after serving a 12-year sentence. Three years after the initial sentence, a man confessed to the murder but it took nine years after the confession to free Freddie and Wilbert. If they had been in prison one year longer, they would not be here today. Situations like this cannot be condoned in our society and the margin of error should be zero.

In our society, capital punishment should be abolished, as it serves no purpose to us. It does not serve as a deterrent and innocent life is at risk. The ratio of lives saved to the number of executions will never be the same. The one thing it does do is create controversy amongst the public and prisoners on the morality of it. Before Robert Drew was executed he said, "Remember, the death penalty is murder." After all, the death penalty is nothing more than a planned assassination. So, now, doesnít th man who pulled the switch need to die? Arenít the executioners now murderers, too?

Front Page Soap Box