An Eye for an Eye: The Death Penalty

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The death penalty has been present, in one way or another, for virtually as long as human civilization has existed. The reasons why are apparent; it is intrinsically logical to human beings that a person who takes the life of another should also be killed. This philosophy is exemplified in the famous Biblical passage, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." However, in light of recent research into ethics, criminology and the justice system, the time has come for us to re-examine our ageless paradigm of revenge. Capital punishment is a custom in which prisoners are executed in accordance with judicial practice when they are convicted of committing a “capital crime.” Capital crimes are crimes considered so atrocious that they should…show more content…
According to a 1987 study published in the Stanford Law Review, at least 23 non-culpable individuals have been executed from 1900 to 1987, which is more than one innocent execution every four years. These miscarriages of justice are often due to evidence that was not discovered or made available until after the execution. Although recent scientific improvements, such as forensic DNA evidence, have enabled investigators to more accurately pinpoint guilt in a suspect, no current amount of scientific or technological advancement can completely guarantee that errors will never be made. In an issue such as the death penalty, where the stakes are so high – human life – any margin of error, no matter how minuscule, is unacceptable. Perhaps most importantly, one must consider the basic ethical question of hypocrisy. We must ask ourselves, "What type of message are we as a nation sending to the rest of the world and to our own citizens when we kill people who kill people to show that it is wrong to kill people?" By executing murderers, we are merely lowering ourselves to their level in order to express our primitive desire for retribution. Our society can never be called moral or democratic if we begin sacrificing individuals, without their consent, to 'the greater good.' Since capital punishment is supposedly intended to protect and avenge innocent lives, it has failed its purpose if, as it undoubtedly has and will, it causes even a few blameless people to be killed. The
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