The death penalty is a morally ambiguous topic. On one hand it prevents the chance of dangerous criminals escaping from prison and causing more harm. However, it can also lead to the wrong person dying, it can cost millions of taxpayers dollars, and it forcibly ends a life after years of isolation. There’s a quote that says “if you kill a killer there are the same number of killers in the world.” While this is true it is also true that if you kill one hundred killers the number drops by 99. The death penalty has its pros and cons just as everything else does: there’s a lengthy process, moral disadvantages, fiscal disadvantages, and even a few moral advantages. The death penalty process starts with a direct appeal. This is an automatic appeal given to everyone sentenced to death” (DPIC, Death Penalty Appeals Process). It starts in the trial court, moves up to the state court, and goes to the supreme court. In some states this is optional, but in others it is mandatory. A state post-conviction goes through the U.S. District Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. This alone is a timely process due to court procedures, evidence, scheduling, any changes in lawyers, etc. After the court rulings, the prisoner then goes to rot on death row for years. According to the article Time on Death Row, in 2012 the average amount of time an inmate was on death row was 190 month. That is approximately 15 years.
In some cases it was asked if these long delays were unconstitutional seeing as how it could be cruel and unusual punishment. Imagine waiting in isolation for 15 years never knowing when it will all end. This process of waiting has even led to what Time on Death Row explains to be Death Row Phenomenon. Inmate have been seen to become delusional in these endless hours alone. Some even become suicidal. There could be no end in sight for them. The death penalty process in ridiculously long. If someone is to be put to death, their time on death row should not be more than a year or two. 15 years of pure isolation is cruel and unusual. The court process is understandably long to reduce error. However, time in prison prior to execution should be cut back drastically. The death penalty can be seen as morally wrong in several instances. According to multiple religions and the law, killing someone is, in a word, bad. According to one opinion in Death Penalty is Just Plain Wrong it is “morally wrong to take the life of an individual, no matter how despicable that individual may be.” To kill anyone at any time can be seen as immoral. According to the bible suicide, euthanasia, and any other form of purposely causing death is considered a sin. This leads to argue that any good Christian would be against the death penalty. That includes all the Christians in the court systems and in the government for allowing this to be legal.
Of course it isn’t only the Christians who have this kind of rule in their beliefs. Mahatma Ghandi was a Sanatani Hindu and he believed an eye for an eye made the whole world blind. Thus a death for a death (or multiple) would be immoral. Casey Carmical explains in Capital Punishment Is Morally Justified that “we must be prepared to rape rapists, beat sadists, and burn down the houses of arsonists” if we allow an eye for an eye to mean a death for a death. The death penalty can be replaced with more humane punishments. Even countries that America has considered oppressive or infringe on their citizens rights “have ended the barbaric practice of the death penalty — while we continue it.” (Death Penalty is Just Plain Wrong). For continuing this practice, America can be seen as very hypocritical. The death penalty is incredibly costly. In fact it is “much more expensive than its closest alternative–life imprisonment with no parole” (Dieter, Millions Misspent). This leads to the idea that not only is it a moral argument but it’s also a fiscal one. In some cases the death penalty can cost as much as “$2.3 million per case” (Dieter, Millions Misspent). Why should taxpayers’ dollars go to something so expensive when there is a much cheaper way? This is where the fiscal argument begins. Of course it could be made cheaper, but then there is a bigger chance for error. By cutting the time between arrest, trial, and execution cost can be cut tremendously. Then there is no need for a long trial and no need to overpay on guards and maintenance on death row. However, cutting the trial time also leads to a larger margin of error. Then if there is any mistake it can not be clarified by the time the person is executed because that time is cut as well. The only solution to these costs would be to replace the death penalty with life in prison with no chance for parole. That seems like the best option. However, some people argue the death penalty is completely and morally justified.
Casey Carmical expresses that is is morally wrong to allow an extreme offender to live with the luxury of a “sentence of life in an air-conditioned, cable-equipped prison where a person gets free meals three times a day, personal recreation time, and regular visits with friends and family.” She calls is a “slap in the face of morality” (Carmical, Capital Punishment Is Morally Justified). If someone has a family member killed imagine how much insult is added to injury when that family is paying taxes so their loved one’s killer can watch television in prison. It is also argued that the death penalty is not revenge. It does not mean an eye for an eye. The death penalty gives proper punishment. In Capital Punishment is Morally Justified, Casey Carmical expressed that life in prison is too easy of a punishment for someone who has purposely caused another person’s death. It would not deter criminals as much as the be all end all. One very important point made in Capital Punishment is Morally Justified is that “Murderers are not innocent people fighting for their lives; that statement describes their victims.” Murderers do not have to murder and if they don’t murder they won’t die. In the case of mental illness it may possibly be excused (but still punished), but for those who willingly kill another human being it is unacceptable. Going along with morality, the death penalty has its pros and cons that almost balance each other out. One of the pros is that a killer is off the streets forever. There is absolutely no chance of them ever coming back. There is no option for a prison escape.
Unless the person were to survive their execution and not be able to be tried again (due to the fifth amendment), there is no way they can be free. Another pro is that this deters criminals. Unless the criminal is mentally ill and/or suicidal they won’t commit the crime out of fear of the punishment. Also, for those who do wish to have revenge, the death penalty gives closure. Justice is done to grieving families. The criminal can never hurt anyone ever again. For every pro, there is a con to balance it. For one, a human being will be forced to die. For everyone paying taxes, this weighs on your soul. Tax dollars go to keep this punishment alive and everyone who pays their taxes has killed. Another thing is innocent people are sometimes executed. The system is flawed and sometimes corruption comes into play. The wrong person can die simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not to mention if there are any enemies on the court or any false testimonies or even a bias against the defendant. Anything can wrong. One more con goes along with the pro of revenge. Revenge isn’t an answer. It creates a cycle. It creates an endless trail of death and grief for all involved. Many of these points may have been repeated. That’s just because the death penalty requires repetition. To wrap one’s head around this punishment can be morally confusing. That could be a reason the United States government still has the death penalty. It is a black, white, and grey area. Talking about it too long can make someone so uncomfortable because they start to see their morals. That could be the reason the government doesn’t decide to talk about it and think of better things or better processes.
The death penalty is such a strange topic because it really only focusses on a person’s own morals. The death penalty has an incredibly long process. Often it can be argued that this process is ridiculously long, not to mention expensive, and should be cut back. However by cutting it back errors can occur and the wrong people could be put to death. Not to mention killing a human being is a sin. Even countries America sees as lesser or uncivilized have done away with the death penalty. So why does the American government still permit it? There is the the option to replace this punishment with something more humane. Life in prison with no parole seems to be a great idea. Except for the fact it may not be punishment enough. Prison may be awful but it does come with a few luxuries such as television and basic human rights. The basic human rights, like food and sleep, can’t be taken away or else the prison sentence will most likely be seen as torture and the person would die anyways. There seems to be no middle ground for the government to work with on this topic. Hopefully, there will be a day when a more humane system can be put in place for this endless cycle of death, or perhaps a quicker system so that if someone is to die, it is not so horribly done.