Katelyn N. Louisiana

The Inhumane and Coldhearted Death Penalty

Discusses the pros and cons of the death penalty and why it should be abolished in the United States.

15 November 2016

Dear Future President:

It was 1:00 a.m. on December 9, 2015 when Brian Terrell’s life ended with the words: “Didn’t do it.” The nurse administered the lethal injection without even questioning it. It all started twenty-three years ago, when Terrell was convicted of the killing of a close friend of his mother. Without knowing it at the time, in the years to follow, he would have three trials, where his guilt would be questioned extensively. He ultimately would die from the death penalty even though evidence proved otherwise. Imagine this was the case of your son or daughter, who you deeply loved without comparison. Would you want your loving, unique, and talented child to die innocent? Would you be able to live if you could never say the words: “I love you” to your child again? According to ProCon.org, there are 17,833 people under a death sentence at this moment. There are 17,833 people that could possibly die without having a second chance to live. The death penalty is affecting the lives of numerous amounts of people in ways far unimaginable. Families are struggling to continue day-to-day activities as a result of the death penalty. Relatives are struggling with feelings of emptiness and regret. Friends are struggling with feelings of loneliness and anger. The death penalty is wrong and should be abolished because it goes against the eighth and fourteenth amendments, and it is simply another name for revenge.

While some Americans may argue that the death penalty costs the government less money than life imprisonment without parole, in reality, the government actually spends more of taxpayers’ money in cases dealing with the death penalty because of the length and complexity of the trials. According to a report by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, California was one of several states spending close to $137 million per year on the death penalty. This same California Commission also estimated that it would only cost the state approximately $11.5 million per year for life imprisonment without parole. Some Americans may also claim that the death penalty will prevent future murder. While numerous people believe that nothing will scare a criminal more than the fear of death, therefore, making a life sentence less deterrent than a death sentence, there is no evidence whatsoever showing that the death penalty prevents crime more efficiently than life imprisonment.

Subsequently, the death penalty should be abolished because it is contrary to the eighth and fourteenth amendments, therefore, making it unconstitutional. The eighth amendment states that cruel and unusual punishments should not be imposed, while the fourteenth amendment states that no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. According to ProCon.org, execution takes place with several different methods, including: lethal injection, electrocution, gas chambers, hanging, and shooting. How are these extreme and inhumane methods not considered cruel and unusual punishments? These approaches to execution are tearing down members of the human race as objects that are to be simply thrown away whenever one may please. The amendments of the constitution were made to follow, not to ignore. By proceeding on with the death penalty, we, as a country, are disregarding the most important and vital principles we have set.

More importantly, the death penalty is absolutely wrong because it is simply another meaning for revenge. The death penalty is retaliation. The death penalty is vengeance. The death penalty is payback. To kill a person who has killed someone else, specifically someone close to you, is just to continue the cycle of viciousness. Are we doing onto others as we would have them do unto us? God commanded us not to kill, and this applies to both the innocent and the guilty. By continuing executions, by continuing death trials, and by continuing hurtful acts, we are going against the will of God. According to Pope Francis, every life is sacred, and therefore, every person has dignity and the right to life.

The death penalty is cruel and should be ended because it is clearly unconstitutional, and it is nothing more than revenge. If we continue to allow the death penalty to occur, it will be arduous for us to progress as a country. Instead of killing people who have killed, we should require imprisonment for life as an alternative. This way the defendant has to suffer as a result of their actions without having to lose their life. Albert Einstein once said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” Future President, let us take a stand together to end the death penalty once and for all!


Katelyn N.


Brumback, Kate. "Georgia Man Set to Die for Killing of Mother's Friend." AP the Big Story, Associated Press, 5 Dec. 2015, bigstory.ap.org/article/d5b0217f99824027a08fe4f427c30a93/georgia-man-set-die-killing-mothers-friend. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.

Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. "Life Imprisonment Is Preferable to the Death Penalty." Capital Punishment, edited by Mary E. Williams, Greenhaven Press, 2005. Current Controversies. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=false&displayGroupName=Viewpoints&currPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010036264&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=&source=Bookmark&u=lafa43079&jsid=d2ba0c878a50931fa89d3eea91fffa04. Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.

Dieter, Richard C. "The Death Penalty Is Too Costly for Society." Death Penalty, edited by Noël Merino, Greenhaven Press, 2015. Current Controversies. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=false&displayGroupName=Viewpoints&currPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010955216&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=&source=Bookmark&u=lafa43079&jsid=d310b0870958b9f21cddf62f8dce7467. Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.

Goldberg, Jonah. "Why Death-Penalty Opponents Can't Win." The Death Penalty, edited by Jenny Cromie and Lynn M. Zott, Greenhaven Press, 2013. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=false&displayGroupName=Viewpoints&currPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010124292&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=&source=Bookmark&u=lafa43079&jsid=76f624efaddd4a7d423a4e4da772c534. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.

O'Connell, Gerard. "The Abolitionist." America, 4 July 2016, p. 25. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/MagazinesDetailsPage/MagazinesDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=false&displayGroupName=Magazines&currPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CA459460967&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=&source=Bookmark&u=lafa43079&jsid=c51c56719db67d3956bdea229005a63d. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.

"Should the Death Penalty Be Allowed?" ProCon.org, 13 Apr. 2009, deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002000. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.

St. Thomas More Catholic High School

Guillory English III

Honors English III 1st period Honors English III 3rd period AP English III 4th period AP English III 5th period AP English III 7th period

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