Should the death penalty be allowed?

College Democrat view

Written in the Declaration of Independence are our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These three things have defined our nation since the very beginning.  

The Eighth Amendment protects citizens of the United States from cruel and unusual punishment. Despite these governing doctrines, capital punishment is still legal at the federal level. It speaks volumes about what we value as a country, that we stand for something as immoral and archaic as putting people to death. It is impossible to progress as a society and act as an example in the modern world if we allow these antiquated and illiberal laws to govern us. 

We are not unfamiliar with the injustices that have defined our history and still exist today. There is rampant and pervasive racial prejudice in the application of the death penalty.  

The University of North Carolina released a study of all homicide cases in a four-year span. The study concluded the odds of getting a death sentence increased three and a half times if the victim was white as opposed to black. Not only were there disproportionate sentences, but multiple predominantly white juries on capital punishment cases argued by white lawyers. There was also a 38% increase in the odds of receiving the death penalty if the accused person was black.  

One of our core values that thousands of Americans died for is equality under the law. We should not and cannot accept anything less than that.

In Roper v. Simmons, the Supreme Court ruled the execution of juvenile offenders is unconstitutional. In Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court effectively voided 40 death penalty statutes and suspended the death penalty. In Ford v. Wainwright, the execution of insane persons was banned. In Thompson v. Oklahoma, executions of offenders age fifteen and younger at the time of their crimes were determined unconstitutional.  

There is a pattern here, but it is one we are ignoring. The death penalty is used as a discriminatory and political tool. It creates the optics that we support the morally impermissible act of killing.