Discussions Unit 2

Final Draft- Should the Death Penalty be Abolished?

Should the death penalty be abolished, in the United States? I got interested in this question, because I had written a paper on this subject during my junior year of high school. I wrote a paper on the death penalty in general, more of an informative essay. I wanted to write more about it on the argumentative side. So, when asked to pick a topic with a research question as the thesis, I thought why not write about the death penalty, and try to give my opinion towards the subject. I felt like I had only touched the tip of the iceberg when writing about the topic during high school, and I feel like there’s still more information to write about, and things to learn from the topic. I feel like it is also an important matter of subject and is something every American citizen should have a voice about it, which makes me feel like I am writing for a cause, which I enjoy. I expect to find a lot in my research. I expect to find valuable opinions/ information on both sides of the argument, whether that is being for the death penalty or against it. I expect to find finances that are affected by the situation, regarding taxpayer’s money, and governments money of such, also anything else involving money around the subject, like how much it cost for an inmate on death row, or how does a capital punishment fulfilling penitentiary affect the real estate in towns near the penitentiary, etc. If I find something I was not expecting but I think is useful towards my topic I will try to include in my essay. I pretty much know what to expect when researching my topic, as I had previously written about this topic before in school.


Source One- Amnesty International/ McCann Erickson Berlin Death Penalty | Amnesty International

The Death Penalty has been around for three hundred years In the United States and has been around for thousands of years worldwide. The earliest form of capital punishment dates to 1755 B.C. with Hammurabi’s code. The ancient Babylonians believed in what goes around comes around. On the code itself it states, “An eye for an eye, or a tooth for a tooth” (Hammurabi’s code) meaning that a person who has injured another person shall be penalized in a similar degree. Ancient times usually involved a lot of torture methods and brutal deaths, but over the course of time and science lethal injection is not the main source of capital punishment. There are just five methods being used today lethal injection being the main one the others, hanging, beheading, electrocution, and shooting. All these methods are cruel, regardless of if it is painful or not. Civil servants should not have the power to take someone’s life away. A lot of countries even use execution against minors, and even individuals with mental disabilities who are not aware of their actions. The article states “Since 1990 Amnesty International has documented at least 149 executions of child offenders in 10 countries” (McCann Erickson Berlin Death Penalty | Amnesty International) One hundred forty nine children’s lives taken from them, from a decision that they were most likely manipulated into. The authors focus of this article was to expose the death penalty and show just how cruel it is, and how common it is across the world. The author states “Amnesty International recorded at least 657 executions in 20 countries in 2018, and Amnesty International recorded at least 2,307 death sentences in 56 countries in 2019” (McCann Erickson Berlin Death Penalty | Amnesty International.) He then goes on to say how this affects the lives of the families of the inmate, the executioner, and the inmate itself up until his/her day of execution (of course if there still sane) the author states “The death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it.” (McCann Erickson Berlin Death Penalty | Amnesty International.) I like this quote because it says a lot on the subject in just a few words. Indeed, we do live in a society where violence is in our culture, violence is almost accepted. But taking a life away is not the solution to this. I feel there are more ways to cope with this rather than executing someone. I fount this article overall very informing and very well written on the topic.

Source Two: Pro Con: Should the Death Penalty be Abolished? – Ashley Nellis


In the article by Ashley Nellis, she really gives a clear perspective on both sides of the argument. She mentions how appropriately cruel. A bittersweet taste, that has both positive and negative outcomes on both sides. In this article the journalist recurring theme is that prisoners should just receive life in prison without parole. She mentions it serves the same purpose, without taking the life of an individual. Which seems like it is a good compromise. The criminal is put to justice, without his life being taken away. But the politics and finances behind the decision is actually very difficult. The author states “In Kansas, the median cost for death penalty trials is over $500,000 each, compared to about $33,000 for non-death penalty cases. The cost of the full case in which the death penalty is sought is, on average, $1.2 million, compared to $740,000 for non-death penalty cases.” (Ashley Nellis Should the Death Penalty be Abolished?) That is over three quarters of a million of taxpayer’s money going towards an inmate’s food and shelter. Is it cheaper to execute them for five hundred thousand? It is a very difficult decision. Which leads to the next question, should the entire program be abolished? The state of California alone has spent over four billion since 1978, on working on a cause against the penalty. Which leaves most states at a standstill. Is it cheaper to initially pay billions of dollars to abolish it, or seven hundred forty thousand x amount of times? The author states that states could save millions of tax money a year if the penalty is abolished. The author also states, “for the first time in polling history 60% or Americans voted on having life imprisonment without parole rather than the death penalty.” (Ashley Nellis Should the Death Penalty be Abolished?) Which then leads to listening to the taxpayer’s voice, or make a decision based off money. I like this article because this showed side C of the argument. There are always three sides to an argument/ discussion. A one view on the topic, B the other view of the topic, and C the truth. I feel like this journalist really did a great job on giving a realistic perspective on the topic. Because in all honesty it comes down to money, and which side will save more. This article showed the finances behind the situation, and if a situation were to be made it would be based off money and that’s what this article showed.

Source Three: Should the Death Penalty Be Allowed? – Death Penalty –

In this article there is a bunch of passages from speeches and other articles written by senators, mayors, and even presidents, and their opinion on whether the death penalty should be abolished or not. One of the first articles is a passage from former president Donald Trump that states “The death penalty. It should be brought back and it should be brought back strong… They say it’s not a deterrent. Well, you know what, maybe it’s not a deterrent but these two [men convicted of killing two police officers in Hattiesburg, MS] will not do any more killing. That’s for sure.” (Former President Donald Trump) I agree with him on that it will prevent the person from committing the same crime, it also sends a message, and turns it into a lesson towards other criminals. Another passage is from vice president Kamala Harris that states “It is also a waste of taxpayer money. The California Legislative Analyst’s office estimates that California would save $150 million a year if it replaced the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. That is money that could go into schools, health care, or restorative justice programs.” (Vice President Kamala Harris) I agree with Vice President Harris on this because I think the money can go towards something with a higher purpose. She mentions how it is a gross misuse of taxpayer’s money which I agree with. I would rather have health care for the sick and elderly rather than pay for an inmate to die that I do not even know. Another passage in the article is a speech from Pope Francis that states “it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice. Nor is it consonant with any just purpose of punishment. It does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance. The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty…” (Pope Francis) I chose to mention this article not because of my personal religion towards the pope, but in consideration for all religions. The death penalty contradicts most religions, whether that is the executed, or executioner. For Catholics one of the ten commandments is thou shall not kill which pope Francis mentions and goes against that religion. I liked this article because it gave me another perspective on the topic, when religion was mentioned. Religion was something I had not previously thought of when it comes to capital punishment. This contradicts people’s religion, at least in the united states where freedom of religion is an amendment but is now being contradicted.



In Conclusion, I learned a lot more about the subject than I had previously knew. I learned statistics, politicians’ views, citizens views, and even just some facts on how the death penalty works. I learned that it cost half a million dollars to rightfully execute someone via capital punishment, and honestly that is what surprised me the most. How much is cost to put a death penalty inmate on trial then feed him, and then execute them. But it cost even more to keep them alive. It cost over seven hundred and fifty thousand to keep the inmate alive and feed and shelter them. Which leaves most states just leaving the penalty alone, having it legal and just not using it. Why I think learning this information was important, is because this is a very serious topic going on in the United States right now, in fact I think it was one of the most government worked on projects, before the pandemic of course. I think it’s important for every citizen to have an opinion on this subject, as we are all paying for it. All death penalty servants are paid for by the taxpayer’s money. Which I believe leads to every American having a say in what should happen to the penalty. It’s also important to point out your state may be saving a lot more money if the penalty is abolished. Which might lead to your community having more schools or libraries etc. I think everyone needs to know about this subject obviously, but to narrow it down of course high government officials such as the president and vice president, which I’m sure they do know about but if they bump it up on their priority list. I think all criminals should know, so they should be more cautious, not with crime but with thinking, and I think all judges should know the logistics behind the penalty, before sending someone to death.

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