Can people decide who lives or dies?

Can people decide who lives or dies?

By: Sydney Holmes | Published: October 9, 2019


Most people’s opinions on why the death penalty should be an option are related to it being unconstitutional, against their religious beliefs, and that the system is based off of racial discrimination. My reasoning for wanting the country to move away from capital punishment is based on how many people are not being given fair trials, and therefore people are being condemned to death before they are proven innocent.

The first known and recorded use of capital punishment in America took place in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608 when Captain George Kendall was executed for being a spy and was sent to the British Colonies by Spain. Since then, the practice of condemning people to death due to the severity of their crimes has been an ongoing argument in our country. The main question about capital punishment in America is whether the death penalty is constitutional or even humane.

When the Bill of Rights was drawn up, it included the Eighth Amendment, which prohibited cruel and unusual punishment. Then the Fifth Amendment was drafted and it implied that the death penalty was possible with an indictment for a “capital crime” and due process of law by the government. The argument has always come down to whether the death penalty should be a viable punishment if the crime that was committed was severe enough, which in most cases the convicted are found guilty of murder or sexual assault. The questioning of the use of capital punishment has even been questioned by the Supreme Court in numerous occasions, but the rulings have been back in forth as well like in Furman v. Georgia and Gregg v. Georgia. 

In 1992, a man named Cameron Todd Willingham was found guilty of splashing gasoline around his house and then setting it on fire, murdering his three little children, in Texas. It was later found by experts that no crime was committed, due to there being no evidence of there ever being gasoline. The fire ended up being caused by faulty wiring. Willingham was found innocent, but sadly he had already been executed by lethal injection in 2004. He died knowing that the world thought he had done such a horrible thing to his family. 

I can’t even fathom losing the people you love the most in the most traumatic way, and then being falsely accused of murdering them and losing your life due to a faulty justice system. 

If only our country, or even our state, could realize that the death penalty does not help the victim’s family to cope, and that killing people who are convicted is not humane. That by allowing the jury or judge to make a life or death situation is not right. No one should be able to decide if a person performed such a heinous crime that they should be put to death. 

We are not God. 

Innocent people like Willingham are losing their lives because this country allows capital punishment to be possible when trying someone. Every person that was part of the Willingham case and trial should be guilty because they murdered an innocent man. 

Texas murdered an innocent man. 

He is not the only one who has been a victim of this justice system and Texas is not the only state which has been at fault. 

In 1995 in Missouri, Larry Griffin was put to death for the murder of a drug dealer but later was found innocent, due to an eye witness later stating that Griffin was nowhere near the crime scene at the time of the murder. 

There are more stories in our history that prove that this system is unjust and faulty, and by practicing capital punishment, allows people to make grave mistakes.

Even if the convicted are guilty, why does killing them have to be a viable option? Why isn’t making them rot in a cell for the rest of their lives not enough? Why are we allowing Americans to become murderers by condemning people to death? 

Now of course this is one opinion, upon many, dealing with a national controversy, but one I hope you think about.

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