The Case Against the Death Penalty

The death penalty should be eliminated due to the types of drugs used, the issue of race in sentencing, it is morally wrong, and the mentally ill cannot get a fair trial. The type of drugs in these executions are suspect. The race of the offender can play a large role in their sentencing and this is a big deal when deciding whether or not this person has the right to keep on living. The death sentence itself is morally wrong because humans have no right to “play God” and decide whether or not to take the life of other human beings.

Finally, the death penalty should be eliminated due to the mentally ill being unable to get fair trials that take into account their illness/illnesses. The death penalty should be outlawed throughout the entire United States.

The types of drugs used in the executions when a person is sentenced to death are not legitimate in the sense that they are very subject.

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When traditional drugs used for lethal injection begin to “dry up,” states are forced to turn to alternatives such as trying combinations of drugs that can in hand lead to botched and “inhumane” executions. Michelle Johnson states, Death-penalty states also face growing pressure over lethal injection, as sources of traditional drugs dry up and states are forced to try new drug combinations. After Oklahoma botched execution in April, President Obama called for a federal review of protocols used in state executions. Meanwhile, support for capital punishment has gradually diminished, though the practice continues to have widespread support in some states.

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This botched execution took place due a new drug protocol in Oklahoma. The man on death row was Clayton Lockett and he was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman. This drug used on Clayton Lockett caused to writhe and groan just minutes after the drug was administered. The drug was injected into Clayton Lockett at 6:23 p.m. and at 6:42 p.m. it was determined by doctors that Lockett’s vein had collapsed. Lockett ended up dying due to a heart attack. This is just one case of the many in which the drugs administered failed and ended up causing a slow and painful death. If the death penalty were to be administered the death should be quick and painless in order to make it more “humane.” This, however, is not the case therefore this method of justice is ironically unjust. Another example of a botched execution took place in Ohio with the execution of Dennis McGuire. From the time that the lethal injection is administered, the process should take only 5 minutes until the inmate is officially pronounced deceased. This however was not the case with Dennis McGuire in which his execution took 3 times the normal amount. The death of Dennis McGuire took place within 15 minutes in which he was suffering brutally. Michelle Johnson states,

Eyewitnesses described him gasping and struggling in his final minutes after being injected with the sedative midazolam and hydromorphone, a painkiller derived from morphine. McGuire’s lawyers had argued against the use of the drugs, but a federal court approved their use after the state’s supply of pentobarbital, a commonly used sedative, dried up. After a review of McGuire’s death, Ohio officials announced they would increase the dosages of both drugs in future executions.

These cases of botched executions all have one thing in common, the type of drug administered. With experimentations taking place on humans with different kinds of drugs more suffering comes out of the process. If drugs were to be labeled the most inhumane form of execution and were to uniformly be used across all states that administer the death penalty, there should be a federally regulated drug or classification of drugs that can only be used. Christina L. Lyons states, “Pharmaceutical companies, meanwhile, are increasingly taking legal action to prevent the use of their drugs in lethal injections, forcing states to use other drugs that death penalty opponents say make botched executions more likely.” This point made by Christina L. Lyons would only further complicate my previous solution to these problems. If pharmaceutical companies refuse to allow their drugs to be used in for these purposes, it will only be more difficult to regulate a list of permissible drugs for the purpose of execution.

Another issue in the sentencing of capital punishment is the implicit bias within judges. Christina L. Lyons states, “A study commissioned by Gregory’s attorneys found that black defendants were at least 3.5 times more likely to be sentenced to death in the state than white defendants.” This statistic is significant because people are more likely to die due to their race. This is something that must be taken into consideration when sentencing someone to death. People of color have accounted for 43% of total executions within the United States from 1976 until now. 55% of people awaiting execution are African American. Although it cannot be denied that statistically, African Americans tend to commit crimes due to several reasons such as community and such, this does not explain the disproportionate amount of African Americans that have been executed or are awaiting their execution. Some of this is attributed to implicit biases within the judicial system.

The color of the defendant should have no effect on the verdict of the judge however, it unfortunately still does to this day. Peter Katel states,
Following that action, a 7-1 high court majority in late May ordered a new trial for Timothy Foster, an African-American convicted of murder by an all-white Georgia jury, and sentenced to death in 1987. Citing prosecution records from the jury selection process, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority that the notes showed a “focus on race . . . [that] plainly demonstrates a concerted effort to keep black prospective jurors off the jury.” Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s only black justice, was the only dissenter from the decision.

Instances such as these promote these implicit biases because white people, on average, are more likely to have these biases against people of color due most likely to less exposure. African American people on average show less implicit biases against people of their own race so it is important to have a diverse jury. These biases are not conscious instead of unconscious labeling them implicit. Race should not have any effect on the outcome/verdict especially when it comes to such an important and substantial decision such as the sentencing of a human being to death.

The idea of capital punishment is not only immoral but ironically unjust. Sentencing a human to die is not something that should be up to other humans to decide. The idea of a “humane” execution does not exist because execution in it of itself is wildly cruel and inhumane. Humans should not have authority over other human beings to decide the outcome of their lives. Democratic Gov. Jack Markell called the death penalty an instrument of imperfect justice. The death of a human being does not bring them justice because they do not pay for the horror they have caused. Someone who has committed such atrocities to deserve capital punishment does not actually pay for their actions as they are dead. If for example, one were to commit murder and then receive the death sentence, the sentence would not make things right. This system runs on the basis of the “eye for an eye” idea but in reality, 2 deaths do not make things right. It is not a humane punishment to sentence another human being to death. The life or death of a person is a sphere of influence that other fellow human beings have no right to control. Republican Mark Earley says that he had “come to the conclusion that the death penalty is based on a false utopian premise. That false premise is that we have had, do have, and will have 100 percent accuracy in death penalty convictions and executions.” This however is not the case. This death penalty is built on the premise that we will get things right without a doubt and for us humans to believe something so naive is simply immoral when dealing with such a heavy topic as the life or death of another living person. The death penalty should be eliminated because it is, all in all, immoral.

The death penalty should be eliminated because it does not allow for fair trials for the mentally ill. The mentally ill depending on the severity of their mental illness do not have fair trials when it comes to the sentencing of capital punishments. Many of these people are unfairly sentenced to death because of the mental illnesses that they suffer from. Instead of killing these people options to help them should be offered. For example, Vernon Madison was sentenced to death for the murder of an Alabama police officer in 1985 but due to his dementia, he was unable to recall the crime he committed and therefore that sets up an argument for if the death penalty should still be used. There is constant discussion about whether or not a prisoner’s mental illness should give them protection from execution. The mentally ill are many times incapable of controlling themselves due to their mental illness so instead of putting these people to death for the heinous crimes they committed, they should be helped to deal with their mental illness. There is no way to account for one’s mental illness and its effect on the crime committed therefore the death penalty should be all in all eliminated because it serves no purpose and it and is an unjustified end to the means.

The death penalty should be eliminated due to the suspect drugs being used to carry out the executions, the issue of race, and how it affects the leniency of the judge/jury, it is immoral from a humanitarian point of view, and the mentally ill cannot get a fair trial that accurately accounts for their mental illness. The drugs used in executions only lead to more harm than justice as they are not well regulated by federal or state law. Race plays a large role in the decisions carried out by judges because people of color are significantly more prone to receive the death sentence for the same crime. The death sentence itself is absolutely immoral as humans have no right to decide whether or not to take the life of another fellow human being. Lastly, the mentally ill are unable to get a fair trial that accounts for their mental illness which can cause unfair sentencing especially when the sentence is death. The death penalty should be eliminated.

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The Case Against the Death Penalty. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from

The Case Against the Death Penalty

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