As
an American and a Texan, the death penalty has always been something of a
tradition. We learn in school that capital punishment is a powerful way to
dissuade people from committing murder and provide the victim’s family a sense
of justice. Although many Americans are against capital punishment, the act is
almost like an element of pride for the states in which it is practiced. As someone who has always
theoretically supported the idea of the death penalty, I have changed my
opinion after researching the effectiveness of the punishment and studying
facts that contrast the theory of its potency. In fact, the FBI reports that
the states who do not practice capital punishment have murder rates at or below
average (Amnesty International, 2012). When considering the subjects of human
rights and restitution, there can be no life, reparation, or reform if the
offender is put to death. The (ACLU)
argues that the death penalty violates our Eighth Amendment rights, our right
to due process, and the guarantee of the equality of protection provided by our
Constitution (The Case Against, 2012).

Even
though the United States utilizes capital punishment, we still have one of the
highest prison population rates and rate of recidivism. Japan also employs the
death penalty, but their rates of incarcerations and repeat imprisonments are
lower, which is not a result of capital punishment but efficient reform and
reintegration programs within their prison system (Dammer & Albanese, 2014).
A study by the Committee on Deterrence and the Death Penalty, and funded by the
National Research Council, focused a section of their report on three states
who still practice capital punishment: Texas, California, and New York. These
three states show the same decrease in murder rate as the states who do not
practice capital punishment. Of those three states, during the years of 2000-2009,
Texas put to death 447 inmates, California executed 13, and New York performed
no executions. Interestingly, New York’s murder rate was lower than that of
Texas (Nagin & Pepper, 2012). A Dartmouth Professor of Mathematics points
out that the ineffectiveness of deterrence by capital punishment cannot be
proven, only theorized upon by the available evidence or lack thereof
(Lamperti, 2010). Without evidence of proof, one has a shaky, at best, argument for the use of capital punishment as a
deterrent to crime.

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On
the human rights side of the argument, we have established national and
international documents the protect our right to life and banishing the taking
of it. Although punishment by death has been around for thousands of years,
1948 ushered in an international stand against capital punishment. The
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) declared that every human has the
right to live and that they are not to be
treated in cruel or inhumane ways (Schabas, 1998). Over the decades,
those rights have been amended and
re-established multiple times. Most recently, in 2007, the UN-sanctioned
Resolution 62/149 called for the global abolishment of the death penalty for
those who still utilize the method (Amnesty International, 2012). The United
States, China, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Japan, and Russia are the
only nations that decline to follow the mandate put forth by the United
Nations. This handful of countries still retain their right to practice this
form of punishment and makeup 57% of the world’s population, yet, they are the
minority in clinging to the antiquated belief of taking an eye-for-an-eye
(Truskett, 2004). The UDHR paved the way for optional sanctions to capital
murder. However, parts of the U.S. have been stubborn in showing their compliance,
even though we claim to guarantee our citizens “life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness” in our Declaration of Independence.

In
Conclusion, the death penalty will always be a controversial subject, and there
is no proof that the capital punishment prevents violent acts of crime. The
ACLU points out that law enforcement does not believe that it is not an
effective deterrent and that the FBI finds the murder rates higher in states
practicing capital punishment (The Case Against, 2012). The high rate of
recidivism in the United States is reflective of the inefficiency of capital
punishment. Internationally, human rights have become a hot topic, and everyone
has a view on whether capital punishment is either moral or ethical. As of
2012, 61 percent of U.S. citizens opposed the death penalty, preferring that
other methods be practiced, such as life imprisonment without the possibility
of parole (Amnesty International, 2012). 
Although it is difficult to defend the argument that murders should live
after taking the life of another, we are guaranteed that life. The United
States is not honoring a victim or their family by ending another person’s
existence, but replicating the criminal act that has already been committed. I
now believe that there is a better way of justice and restitution than capital
punishment.