Dead Man Walking: Thoughts on the Death Penalty 

Dead man walking is what inmates on death row hear when they are taking their last walk of life before they are served their method of death penalty. But what lead them to that last walk? What crime could they have committed in order to be sentenced to murder? And what gives any person the right to sentence a person to losing their life? However, what gives a criminal the right to walk free without punishment? Life is full of consequences.

There’s a saying, “you do the crime, you do the time.” I fully agree with this quote, but who determines the consequence for the crime? There are many cases of innocent people being found guilty of a crime they didn’t even commit, what then? Who’s to say a jury member wasn’t having a bad day when they chose to decide a verdict and what exactly qualifies them to help aid in the ruling of any case? We do have laws in place, as we should otherwise it would be mass chaos, but are we giving too much leverage to our judicial system? Capital punishment for drug charges or burglary? Seems a little harsh of a punishment and inhumane, agreed? An eye for an eye or going straight for the jugular without reason? Or what you dish out, you get back in return? Capital punishment, a consequence to committing any level of crime or a cruel punishment undeserved?

Capital punishment has been around since before Christ walked the earth.

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However, over time the forms of punishment have been adjusted. Prior to the new age methods, there were forms of the death penalty such as hanging and taking off the criminal’s head. These laws were in place in the early days in order to make a model of how a person shouldn’t act. However, these sentences were given for simple acts such as theft. Yes, a crime is a crime as well as a wrongdoing of any sort is still wrong. However, when does it become a bit too much? When does it become a level of cruelty? Death because a person stole something is merely harsh in the eyes of some. Can there not be a better ruling in favor of all parties? Over time, the death penalty has shifted, and the judicial system has lessened how often they sentence someone to the death penalty. Capital punishment has also shifted to new forms of carrying out the sentence. Such as lethal injection, the electric chair and a firing squad. Even though capital punishment has evolved, does it make it any better? There are laws in place that are still choosing to murder someone over a crime. In fact, a firing squad is a paid gig to murder someone for a crime they committed, so does this put “blood” on the paid firing squads’ members hands?

When looking at a few of these methods of capital punishment, at what point do they become torturous and inhumane? The firing squad doesn’t seem so bad when you read it, however once researched, it sounds just like target practice. Men line up and shoot the inmate and if they purposely want to torture them, they can let them bleed to death rather than ending their life immediately with a kill shot. My stomach turns at the thought of this! Not to mention, another hidatos punishment, the electric chair. It too is beyond inhumane; it is downright morally shocking! The convicted get strapped to chair and the electrocution process takes more than one pass in order to carry out the death. These two forms are mere agony and total torment. How could anyone be okay with witnessing, being paid for or be the one carrying out these acts of cruelty? Lethal injection seems to be somewhat the best and most humane one, but it’s not even done by a doctor! Again, a hired person is responsible for injecting various drugs into the inmate’s system. How much is supposed to be administered? Wouldn’t it be a case by case amount due to the persons age and weight, just like taking Advil? Shouldn’t proper protocols be done? If done incorrectly, the person is said to suffer painfully as they die. Even when dogs are put down for being aggressive, we have a trained veterinarian or vet tech put the dog down. But a human life isn’t worth the same respect?

There are valid points to having the death penalty in place. It has been said that the death penalty is a deterrent. Merely using capital punishment as a scare tactic to deter criminals from repeating crimes or even committing the crime right off the bat could be a valid factor in keeping it legal. However, there are no specific reports, cases or studies that validate that it is a deterrent. According to Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, there was a study done in order to show if the experts considered it a deterrent. Their response was, more than 88% of these criminal experts agreed that capital punishment isn’t a deterrent. More than one study has been done to reflect that most homicides are not done out of sheer cold blood. Most are driven by emotion or fueled by some type of extracurricular activity that may enhance and advert the mind. And in specific cases, such as a serial killer, the criminal may quite possibly have a mental disorder or be clinically insane. Therefore, how much of the death penalty is a scare tactic, especially for those under the influence, those being overcome by emotion or those that have mental issues?

There has been the argument that the death penalty is a better choice than life in prison. The argument is that it’s tough on the taxpayers pockets to contain an inmate in prison for a lifetime. Whereas, exercising capital punishment would be a lesser break for the community. Valid point! However, the taxpayers’ dollars are used to house these criminals until their execution date which can sometimes be many years. Even then, does it cost more to house an inmate for a lifetime? According to, it costs more to execute a criminal rather than to house them for an entire lifetime. Some capital punishment cases have been known to surpass a million dollars just to execute the punishment. Michelle Lyons from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said, “It costs approximately $47.50 per day to house an inmate in the Texas prison system.” Given this estimate, we could factor an entire lifetime and still not reach anywhere close to a million dollars. So, if money was an actual factor in favor of the death penalty this point is now eliminated. Taxpayers are clearly stuck paying either way.

Another factor in the death penalty is the innocent being wrongfully accused. More than one capital murder case has convicted a person of a crime they didn’t commit. Sometimes when we leave fate in the judge’s hands or even in the jury’s hands, there is a chance that someone will not receive the correct verdict. According to, roughly one hundred thirty people were sentenced to the death penalty and were released. How could over a hundred people be wrongfully sentenced to death and then be released? That is a huge mess up! A person’s life can completely be ruined by an, “I’m sorry, we were wrong, now you can go live your life”, after sitting in prison for a crime that person didn’t even commit and on death row at that. If wrongfully accused by any means, no one wants to be punished for an act they didn’t commit. Especially if that punishment ends up costing you your life! Are we putting too much faith in the judicial system? Almost everyone dreads the awful jury duty notices that arrive in the mail. Who’s to say that a member of the jury wasn’t already angry when they showed up to jury duty or felt prejudice towards the convicted merely due to their race?

What exactly is the cause of a death penalty verdict? Is it merely an eye for an eye? You reap what you sow? The convict took another person’s life and therefore is being punished with the reciprocal? Or, can other convictions cause a person to end up on death row? In the state of Texas, there are currently 212 inmates on death row. (The Texas Tribune). After researching these inmates and the crimes they had committed, all 212 are found to be on death row for murder including other harsh crimes. Yes, the crimes shook me to my core when I read some of them. I was overcome by such intense emotion to where my stomach literally hurt. However, morally what is right? Where do we draw the line? Given these inmates chose to end someone’s life, what right does anyone have to end theirs? A child rant used to say, “Who died and made you God.”

The bright side to the death penalty is that over time it has lowered. If this fact doesn’t delight those in favor of capital punishment, then there is always the option to move! There are countries such as Cuba and Saudi Rabia that are fully committed to the death penalty.

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Dead Man Walking: Thoughts on the Death Penalty . (2021, Apr 21). Retrieved from

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