Death Penalty Essay
The death penalty is a very questionable punishment in many states across the U.S.
Thirty-one of the fifty states officially have the death penalty, and nineteen without. Four of the
states with death penalty have death penalty with gubernatorial moratoria. This is when the state
governor can change a death sentence to life in prison, instead. In my opinion, I am for the death
penalty because I believe it is sometimes necessary. If I were a prisoner, I would rather be put to
death than rot in prison.
Our state of California has the largest Death Row in the country, with more than 700
convicted prisoners. In November of 2016, California had two death penalty initiatives on the
ballot. One inquired to abolish the death penalty (Proposition 62) and the other to limit state
court judicial review of death penalty claims (Proposition 66). If I were to vote, I would have
voted ‘yes’ for Proposition 66, and ‘no’ for Proposition 62. Most who voted ‘yes’ for 62 most
likely believed death penalty is inhumane, which is understandable. What gives the government
the right to decide who dies and when they die? These matters of application and morality are
very crucial issues as to why death penalty is so controversial.
When deciding who dies and who does not, there are many factors that come in place.
This is why California has allowed voters to have a say in what crimes are death-eligible. Those
who believe the death penalty is inhumane need to consider the crimes one has to commit to be
put on Death Row. I believe if you intentionally take someone’s life, you do not deserve to life
the rest of yours. Some may take into consideration the possibility of a mentally ill person
committing such a crime. Some mental illnesses can cause someone to do insane things, but if a
suspect is found insane or mentally ill at any time before execution, the execution could be
delayed. Once the prisoner has recovered, their execution is rescheduled.
A downside to the death penalty is the racial bias that takes place. People of color have
accounted for an unequal 43% of total executions since 1976 and 55% of those currently
awaiting execution. As of October 2002, 12 people have been executed where the suspect was
white and the victim black, compared to the 178 black suspects executed for the murder of a
white victim. This may be a coincidence, but with such a wide gap in numbers, it does not seem
likely. Another issue with death penalties is one’s innocence. Unjust convictions and executions
can happen due to multiple factors, such as mistaken eyewitness testimony, racial bias, or
blatantly ametuer lawyers. In some cases, a suspect is proven innocent after their execution.
Although there are multiple factors as to why the death penalty is unjust, I still believe we
should have Death Row. It is all a matter of correcting the mistakes and being more careful in
investigating a case when it comes to the punishment of death. There should be more diversity in
the court system so there is less racial bias. Before executing a suspect, there should be a
background check and current checkup to see if they are mentally disabled or ill. The principle of
a person being ‘innocent until proven guilty’ should be taken into great consideration. No one
should be put to death until completely proven guilty and no questioning their innocence.