A common questioned idea and action that seems either supported or hated is the use of capital punishment. It has been highly debated by both the Supreme Court and state officials. The process has been changed many times from hanging to lethal injections, but the results still bring about the same thing—the death of a human being. A death penalty is a hypocritical form of punishment; because if one person kills another, he or she shall be killed as well. At the end of the day, people are just recreating the crime that was committed on a repetitive basis. The death penalty should be abolished because of Christian beliefs and teachings, unjust convictions, and ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment.
First, sixty-two percent of the citizens of the United States are Christians. The Catholic Church is one of the most powerful Christian denominations. During a 1999 visit to St. Louis, Missouri, Pope John Paul II said, ‘The death penalty is ‘cruel and unnecessary’ even in the case of someone who has done great evil” (Capital Punishment ‘Cruel and Unnecessary’1). His statement enforces the Catholic Church’s belief that the death penalty should be abolished. Also, the Catholic catechism says that the use of the death penalty should be “very rare, if not practically non-existent.” It also states that the purpose of punishment is to correct the guilty party, not to kill him or her (Capital Punishment ‘Cruel and Unnecessary’ 1). For the Christian thinkers and believers, capital punishment goes against Biblical morals of care and love.
Second, when a trial is held, it should always be unbiased and unprejudiced in the thinking of the judge and in that of the jury. Sentencing and decisions must be made with concrete evidence, not circumstantial. If one can afford good legal representation, there is a good chance that he or she will not go on death row. Good representation is a luxury that a large percentage of defendants charged with capital crimes cannot afford. They are forced to use inexperienced, underpaid, and overworked lawyers provided by the court. An example of this is in the case of Chris Thomas, a black twenty-two-year-old involved in a parking lot robbery and murder. Scott Turow says, “It was clear to us that Thomas, like many other defendants, is now on death row essentially for the crime of having the wrong lawyer” (Turow 5). Turow says that prejudiced thinking among judges regarding race has a strong pull in the capital courtroom. As of May 2018, black defendants accounted for 34.5 percent of all people executed in the United States since 1976, and nearly 42 percent make up the inmates on the country’s death rows, despite only making up just over 13 percent of the general population (Turow 6). Prejudices and unfair practices lead to an unfair courtroom.
Lastly, the Eighth Amendment in the United States Constitution gives protection to citizens from “cruel and unusual punishment.” This amendment has been broken several times as a result of human error and lifestyle and health conditions. There is a chance for human error in every task that people perform, but training tends to make humans more accurate and less susceptible to error. This is not the case when doctors are not conducting executions, and they are being done by execution technicians. When there is human error in the use of the drugs, extreme side effects can occur. Another problem is the ineffectiveness of the drugs in particular situations. Deborah Denno says, “Physicians have problems finding suitable veins for injection among individuals who are diabetic, obese, or extremely muscular. Heavy drug users present particularly difficult challenges because of their damaged veins and even resistance to high levels of lethal injection chemicals” (Denno 3). This all shows the inhumanity associated with the death penalty.
Crime continues to grow in the United States. There are murders, kidnappings, sexual abuses, and many other heinous crimes that are reported each day. It is easy to conclude that these perpetrators should be put to death to make up for their crimes. There will be continued debate on the subject with each side presenting its reasons. What is the answer? It is apparent that because of Christian beliefs and teachings, unjust convictions, and “cruel and unusual punishment,” the death penalty is ineffective.
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