by Marie Nader

The death penalty is one of the largest affronts to human rights this country has ever known. It is imperative that this country abolishes the death penalty. American cannot continue to use the death penalty to curtail crime. As a country we cannot sit idly by while our government uses cruel and unusual punishment on its citizens. The stories of Troy Davis and Carlos DeLuna try the integrity of this great nation. As of May 2012, over 141 countries have abolished the death penalty. The United States should do everything it can to join that list.

Many proponents of capital punishment argue that the death penalty quells crime. However, the death penalty has never been a proven deterrent of crime. In 2008, in fact, the fourteen states that did not have the death penalty had homicide rates equal to or below the national average.

It is hard to believe that the death penalty can diminish crime rates when innocent people have been put to death. Since 1976, at least 140 peopel have been freed from death row due to wrongful conviction. With so many innocent people being put on death row, it is hard to imagine the death penalty as a viable restraint on crime. As a society we should be focusing on rehabilitating our criminals, not killing them. Once the needle is put in someone’s vein, there is no going back. That decision cannot be changed.

Capital punishment is the most arbitrary punishment that this country uses. Many do not want to realize that the death penalty is a highly flawed system of punishment. These are the same people who fail to comprehend the death penalty’s discriminatory application.  When a victim is white, African-American defendants are three times as likely as white defendants to receive the death penalty; the death penalty seems to disproportionately affect minorities.

The death penalty also discriminates based on the geography of where the crime was committed. The Northeast has accounted for less than one percent of executions since 1976, while over 80 percent of executions have taken place in the South. Two people charged with the same crime often receive different punishments; one may receive the death penalty while the other only receives prison time. This country cannot continue to use such a haphazard punishment on its citizens.

This country must come together to abolish the death penalty. Groups such as Amnesty International and the Innocence Project have been heading movements to bring the death penalty to an end. Through these organizations, citizens can urge the US government to become civilized by abolishing the death penalty. There should be more urgency on the Supreme Court to review the death penalty under the purview of the Eighth Amendment. Together this nation can come together to create a voice for those affected by the death penalty.  The stories of lives unjustly taken can help empower us to make a difference.