Discussion over whether or not capital punishment should be used in the United States has been reinvigerated as the Biden administration has been inconsistent in its attitude toward the death penalty. (Photo via Flickr (Josh Rushing) under Creative Commons license)
Discussion over whether or not capital punishment should be used in the United States has been reinvigerated as the Biden administration has been inconsistent in its attitude toward the death penalty.

Photo via Flickr (Josh Rushing) under Creative Commons license

Head 2 Head

Death penalty is back in the news

February 11, 2022

Discussion over whether or not capital punishment should be used in the United States has been reinvigorated as the Biden administration has been inconsistent in its attitude toward the death penalty. Staff Writers Ashton Lewandowski and Drew McCarthy go head to head and discuss why their respective stance is better.

Capital punishment is powerful tool to dissuade and punish criminals

Criminals deserve punishments equivalent to their crimes. However, when the crimes are truly despicable, justice must not stoop to their level of abhorrence. Capital punishment is the perfect balance between vengeful retribution and moral self-righteousness. 

The death penalty is baked into the very Constitution of America. The fifth amendment directly gives the state the power to issue death penalty. Whether or not the state should use it should be delivered on a case by case basis. A complete and outright ban is unnecessary and would require constitutional level change, on top of severely limiting state power to deliver deserved justice.

Capital punishment is the perfect balance between vengeful retribution and moral self-righteousness.”

— Staff Writer Ashton Lewandowski

By removing state ability to issue capital punishment, it would be removing the nuclear option for courts. Criminals already faced with life in prison will no longer have the threat of losing their lives no matter how they act. The threat of capital punishment, even if it is precarious, is a good deterrent to make the worst of society behave. 

It also provides an option for victims and their families to get comparable justice toward a nefarious actor. The death penalty is the most humane way for horrible people to get retribution for their actions. Actions which would not be punished as fairly otherwise. 

Some might say that the death penalty should not exist due to the potential for an innocent person to get sentenced to it. This critic unfairly targets capital punishment. An innocent person could be sentenced to anything, not just the death penalty. This flaw is present in the entire judicial system. Just because the judicial system is imperfect does not mean the whole judicial process should get abandoned. 

Regardless, the majority of people still support using the death penalty. Americans do not want to harbor these criminals. The level of depravity shown from death row inmates, found guilty by a jury, should not be tolerated in the United States. 

Biden should consider all of these factors when consulting with Attorney General Merrick Garland on his administration’s capital punishment policy moving forward. Americans should be disgusted with the actions of these individuals, and continuing capital punishment would send a heavy message to those responsible for the ongoing crime spikes.

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Death penalty is deficient, wasteful form of punishment

The death penalty, although effective in preventing a small amount of crime, results in the ending of a life and that is unacceptable. The death penalty is not morally and economically viable. Even though money is a problem, the morality of killing another person simply because we deem what they do is wrong is fallacious. 

Since 1976 there have been 1491 executions. 173 of those who died were innocent. Killing a person is bad in general but it is even worse when they literally do nothing. The system is flawed or 173 people would probably still be alive. The amount of innocent people who were killed is scary because there is no bringing them back. Once someone dies, they are dead for good. 

All of the modern death row victims have been murderers. Although it may seem like murder is a fitting punishment for a murderer, it is important to look at how the victims family think about it. Other than the victim, the family is going to be affected the most. 

Instead of using our taxes for a new school or new roads, the government uses them for holding and euthanizing people.”

— Staff Writer Drew McCarthy

The opinion that the death penalty gives closure to the victim’s family is false. Although there are people on both sides, studies show that generally families agree that another death does not remedy their feelings. Through the idea of collective morality, the general population believes that killing people is bad. 

The second biggest factor aiding in the death penalty being inessential is the cost. The cost of keeping a prisoner on death row is around $90,000 more per prisoner per year than a regular prisoner. In California alone there are 670 death row inmates, which costs $63.3 million annually.

Instead of using our taxes for a new school or new roads, the government uses them for holding and euthanizing people. Taxes are important assets for the government. Wasting them on such things is impudent and selfish. 

Biden has had a confusing background when it comes to the death penalty. He needs to put his foot down and declare the death penalty illegal. Doing this will save a substantial amount of lives and free up funds that can be better spent elsewhere.

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