The death penalty is doing more harm than good


Anna Harrington

The death penalty has been around for thousands of years, but it is not the most effective way to deliver justice.

Editorial Staff

The death penalty has been around for thousands of years, but it is not the most effective way to deliver justice. Today, the justice system is different and it is time to reconsider Tennessee’s support of the death penalty.

The death penalty costs countless dollars. According to “Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty”, taxpayers paid $253 million more for the death penalty than they would have for life in prison without parole. This means that the taxes the people of Tennessee paid went to murder criminals instead of bettering society and helping to improve the criminal justice system.

The death penalty is also often unfair. Studies have found that since 1990, no person condemned to death row could afford their own lawyer. This means that the person could only provide their own defense or use a court-appointed attorney while going up against a trained prosecutor. People with the money to hire a better lawyer might have received a lesser punishment, even if they committed the same crime.

Another way the current system is unfair is that it is racially biased. People of color have a higher chance of being sentenced to death compared to white people. According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, the state of Tennessee has executed 86 African Americans and only 50 whites. This means that people of color could have been executed while others might be sentenced to a lesser punishment just because of how that person looked.

The death penalty has gone through many methods of execution, including firing squad, hanging, electrocution and now lethal injection. These injections, however, are not a humane way to execute criminals. According to the “Tennessean”, lethal injections have caused victims to endure pain and a sense of drowning.

This is essentially torturing the criminal, which is against the 8th Amendment of the Constitution. It states that cruel punishments are unlawful. It is also morally wrong, plain and simple.

Mental illness is another reason why the death penalty should be reformed. According to “Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty”, mental illness can directly influence someone’s actions and cause people to commit a crime, as well as affect how reliable their statements are. This means that convicted person might literally have not been able to keep themselves from committing the crime. Instead of just executing them, it would be better to help someone with mental illnesses.

Finally, sometimes the jury can get it wrong. One hundred and sixty four people on death row across the United States have been released due to new evidence proving their innocence. This proves that the death penalty might not be the best solution, because it also executes innocent people who didn’t actually commit a crime.

Essentially, the Tennessee death penalty system should be reformed. Not only are innocent people executed, hundreds of thousands of dollars are wasted on these executions. Our society needs to be better than that. The government should not kill people in order to avenge murder. It is time for Tennessee to change its methods of justice.

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