By Jackson Jost

The United States is one of fifty six countries to still implement capital punishment also known as the death penalty. The United States is seventh on the list for number of executions conducted in 2016 with twenty. Ahead of the United States on this list is Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China. The United States is also the only western country to still use the death penalty. The death penalty is barbaric and should be abolished as it is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. Life in prison is already a severe enough punishment for those who commit even the most heinous crimes. The death penalty also send the wrong message to the people of our country. It send the message that it is ok to live by the expression, “an eye for an eye.” Instead we should send the message that it is better to take the high road and not stoop down to the same level as the criminals.

Supporters of the death penalty may argue that the death penalty deters others from committing heinous crimes. This is simply untrue. A criminal who is willing to commit a murder or other inexcusable crimes who is not already deterred by life in prison will not be deterred by the small possibility that many years down the road they might be executed. Another argument supporters of the death penalty make is that the death penalty provides justice for the families of the victims. There is no question the families of the victims are feeling extreme pain and in some cases want revenge. The death penalty is used as an outlet for revenge. There are many laws preventing people from taking justice into their own hands because if they go and kill someone they are no longer the victim and become the perpetrator. All the death penalty does is shift the pain from one family to another.

If you look at the over one thousand executions since 1976 it is hard to say exactly how many of them were innocent. Once they are executed the people looking into the case shift their attention to cases where they can still save someone’s life. According to deathpenaltyinfo.org, there are thirteen cases that have strong evidence suggesting the executed may have been innocent. If only one person was innocent that should be enough to horrify you about what can happen.

The death penalty is morally wrong, it does not deter people from committing crimes, and it kills innocent people. It is everything stated above combined that leads me to the conclusion that the death penalty needs to be abolished.