Capital Punishment

Dear Future President, My name is Melina. I am an eighth grade student at a school in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. The United States still uses capital punishment and is the only western country to do so. Capital punishment is the legal killing of someone because of the crimes they have committed. It violates the Eighth Amendment, which states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”, meaning that people shouldn’t get “cruel and unusual punishments” for any crime. The death penalty is a cruel and, if you will, illegal punishment given to those who have committed crimes. People deserve to live. Our country needs laws to protect people, even if they are guilty. People shouldn’t be given unequal treatment because of the monetary situation they are in. The capital punishment should not be given to people based solely to race, gender, or their physical appearance. The cost of taxes that people have to pay for the inmates in prison should be lowered. People should absolutely not be given the punishment of the death penalty, or anything near as cruel as capital punishment. It should not exist. The death penalty seems to be very discriminatory and biased. You will never see a celebrity or someone with a large mass of money be put on death row. They have the income level to afford good defense to help them, but poor people do not. They can’t afford the best defense to help them. With bad defense, they may not be able to find the best evidence to try to prove them innocent. Even if they are not guilty, they will often be put on death row because of the small amount of evidence. Out of every seven people put on death row, at least one of them is innocent. Even if a wealthy person is guilty, you won’t see them be put on death row because they have good resources to get them out of it and try to prove their innocence. Research from Russ Feingold, a United States Senator, shows that 87 people have been freed from death row after later being proven innocent. We need to let the innocent live. We can not just rush to a conclusion. Based on what our country believes and what our Constitution states, it is better to let many guilty free than kill just one innocent. According to, individual states that have death penalty laws do not have an impact on crime or murder rates than states without such laws. If the death penalty has no effect on crime rates, why is it being imposed? If capital punishment doesn’t solve anything, it shouldn’t be used. People should just get time in prison. If someone kills someone, that victim's family is already suffering. If you give the death penalty to the defendant, their family has to suffer. That’s a lot of people suffering for something that could have been taken in a different direction. Also, giving someone the death penalty doesn’t help the victim or the family of the victim. People think that it helps them grieve, but it doesn’t. states that killing the person who has done something to you or someone close to you, just continues to present more violence which tears down the retaliator. Expressing violence makes us want to express it more and more, and this desire doesn’t go away. The death penalty also shows prejudice. Out of all of the people on death row, 50% of them are African Americans, and all six of the next scheduled executions are for African Americans. From 2001 to 2006, where capital punishment was being sought, 48% were African Americans. Some may say, “Only 48%? What about the other 52% of white people?”. But in these cases, those African American being accused could have been proven innocent if the investigation was looked into further. We can’t look at race or ethnicity when deciding on a verdict. In many cases, the final verdict is decided based on race. People may say that the death penalty costs less than the taxes we will have to pay for someone to be in prison for many years. But, that has not been proven. If we don’t really know the truth about it, then why should we risk killing an innocent person, especially if we don’t have all the evidence? I think that the cost of taxes that go to prisons should be decreased. Some may also have the opinion that African Americans commit crimes based on the numbers they have in their societies or because of their poverty status. That may be true, but many African Americans have been accused of crimes they haven’t committed just because of the way they look. I strongly believe that this issue should not be legal. I am a Christian and a Catholic, and I truly believe that no one should be killed for any reason. No matter what anyone has done, they do not deserve to die. They are a human being and should never get their life taken away. Imagine if it were you or one of your loved one’s, sitting in a chair, awaiting their death. Then how would you feel about capital punishment? Imagine saying goodbye for the last time, knowing you’ll never see them again. It is almost unimaginable. No, not unimaginable but inconceivable. Anyone can imagine it, but no one wants to think about it. These are major problems, but you could change it. Provide better defense for the poor who can’t afford it. Treat them the same way wealthier people are treated. Petition to the Congress to sponsor an Amendment to overturn capital punishment. You could pardon people on death row and help them live. There will always be prejudice; no one can change that. But enforce a law in which people can’t be convicted based on gender, nationality, or ethnicity. Make people look at all the evidence without looking at the physical appearance of the person. Take a step to help keep the innocent alive. Sincerely, Melina


Mrs. K's Social Studies Class

Social Studies 8-1

An 8th grade social studies class.

All letters from this group →