Olivia K. Michigan

Capital Punishment or Legalized Torture

Is the death penalty really an effective way to serve justice in our society?

Dear Future President,

In America, it is currently legal in 31 states to execute a criminal in a humane manner, if there is evidence of the guilty party being a future danger to society. The controversy of the topic stems from the fact that killing another clashes with most people’s moral values. Citizens must also consider that if an execution causes excess pain to the inmate, it has violated the 8th Amendment in our Constitution, which prohibits any form of cruel and unusual punishment.

On the contrary, no taxpayer wants their hard earned money going to pay for these criminals to live out the rest of their lives in prison. Many feel getting the convicts off the streets is the best option in preventing future incidents. Picture all of the innocent people that would be saved from these monsters if they no longer had access to our society. All of the lives preserved and suffering avoided. However, there are many ways to keep these dangerous people from the general masses of our society without eliminating them from the living.

There are five legal methods of execution in the United States. This includes: lethal injection, hanging, gassing, firing squad, and electrocution. Though all are said to cause minimal pain during the execution, there are debates on the ethical implications of some of these methods and the executions that have gone wrong. One example of an execution being botched is Clayton Lockett’s in 2014. Lockett was administered the drugs as routine, but instead of dying quickly he writhed in pain for forty-five minutes due to vein failure before dying of a heart attack. This is a clear violation of the 8th Amendment which our country has vowed to uphold. No matter what actions have led the convict to the point of being sentenced to death row, no American citizens should be subjected to legalized torture.

The United States is the only industrial democracy in the world, besides Japan, that has legalized capital punishment. It makes you wonder why no other country has thought to participate in this penalty as well. Many believe that this is the only way for justice to be carried out, because no person who has killed innocents should be allowed to continue to walk the Earth with other potential victims. But what if the criminals themselves are innocent? Unfortunately, this isn’t a question of “what if” but rather, “which time”. When an innocent has been wrongly convicted, does their execution mean we have gone against our only reason for having the death penalty, to stop the murder of innocents?

One reason that the death penalty is still widely supported in the United States is so the punishment may fit the crime. If an innocent has been killed, it’s only fair and just to execute the murder. Is this really a punishment that fits their crimes? This is only providing the inmate with a way out, an escape from the consequences their actions have brought upon them. Having to wake up in a grungy cell everyday for the rest of their lives and face the reminder of the heinous things that led them to a life in prison could be a much more severe punishment than death. By not giving convicts capital punishment, you are prolonging their suffering and weighing down their consciousness with guilt that they have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Why do people find joy in taking the life of another? For some, the sense of retribution they feel provides them with closure. Most feel that to protect themselves, they must eliminate their biggest threat, a natural human survival instinct. Yes, we’re are saving the lives of many, but we’re achieving this through the path of blood. What measures will our society take to ensure our safety before we realize that we have sacrificed not only our people, but our morals?


Olivia K

Royal Oak High School

Royal Oak Ravens

High school juniors and seniors from Royal Oak, Michigan.

All letters from this group →