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An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is how the saying goes.

Coined by the infamous


Hammurabis Code around 1700 BC, this ancient expression has become the basis of a great political
debate over the past several decades the death penalty. While the conflict can be whittled down to a
matter of morals, a more pragmatic approach shows defendable points that are far more evidence
backed. Supporters of the death penalty advocate that it deters crime, provides closure, and is a just
punishment for those who choose to take a human life. Those against the death penalty argue that
execution is a betrayal of basic human rights, an ineffective crime deterrent, an economically wasteful
option, and an outdated method. The debate has experienced varying levels of attention over the years,
but has always kept in the eye of the public. While many still advocate for the continued use of capital
punishment, the process is not the most cost effective, efficient, consistent, or up-to-date means of
punishment that America could be using today.
Proponents of the death penalty are right to argue that capital punishment does provide a sense of
closure to those who are faced with the tragedy of losing a loved one due to homicide, but they
exaggerate when they claim that this is the only means by which murderers receive just punishment for
their crimes. Advocates of the death penalty fail to recognize that there are alternative methods such as
psychotherapy that are able to replace the barbaric method of the death penalty.
The death penalty is an economically wasteful method of punishment. It has been calculated that if the
death penalty was extinguishedwe could save $11 million a year (Locke). While this may not seem a
significant sum, ..

Morally, I simply do not believe that we as human beings have the right to
"play God" and take a human life ---especially since our human judgments are
fallible and often wrong. Indeed, since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S.
Supreme Court in 1976, 700 men and women have been exonerated from Death
Row, three-fourths of those taking place since 1992. That translates into one death
row inmate being found innocent for every seven executed. Given this track record,
I simply cannot support the death penalty since we know that it will, inescapably, be
erroneously applied and innocent people will be put to death. Second, all the
evidence suggests that the death penalty is no deterrent to crime. Indeed, in those
states that do have capital punishment, the average murder rate per 100,000
people is 8 percent, while in states that have abolished the death penalty, the
murder rate is just 4.4 percent. In other words, states that do not have capital
punishment actually have lower murder rates than states that do. I confidently
believe that rather than decreasing murder, capital punishment actually has a
brutalizing effect on society, contributing to an increase in murder. Third, the
evidence and statistics all show that the imposition of the death penalty is both
racially and economically biased. African American defendants, for example, are far
more likely to receive death sentences than others who committed similar crimes.
To put that into perspective, 42 percent of inmates on death row today are African
American even though they comprise only 13 percent of the US population; 180
African Americans have been executed in cases involving white defendants while 12
whites have been executed in cases with black defendants. Of all the people on
death row today, 75 percent of them are non-white. Moreover, a full 98 percent of
all defendants sentenced to death were people who could not afford their own
attorneys. I simply cannot support a policy that is so unfairly and unevenly applied.
Fourth, America is one of the last nations in the world to still practice the death
penalty. In fact, in each year since 1976, two additional countries have abolished
capital punishment, and the overwhelming majority of nations around the world
have now put an end to it in law or practice. Even in our own country, opposition to
the death penalty has doubled since 1994. Recent polls say that 64 percent of
Americans support a moratorium on all executions. As President, I will seek an end
to capital punishment by supporting the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act of
2003, which I recently introduced. At the same time, however, I believe that
criminals who take innocent life or commit other horrific crimes should pay a severe
penalty, and that we have a duty to protect our society from danger. For that
reason, I favor life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as an acceptable
moral alternative for the worst and most violent offenders in our society.