Featured Opinion: Death Penalty


Graphic by: Emma Blackburn

By Maddie Wall and Maddie Wall

In 1972, the California Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional, only for it to be reinstated 6 years later. In 2012, Prop 32 would have repealed the death penalty in California, but was defeated. Although there hasn’t been an execution in California since 2006, California has the highest number of inmates on death row, at 749.

Every single one of these inmates has been ruled guilty for murder, but does that mean in turn we murder them? To me it seems hypocritical to punish someone by doing the exact same thing they did. By locking these inmates up for life, with no opportunity of parole, I think we are giving them a more constitutional punishment. Here are a few reasons why:

There is the risk of murdering someone who is innocent. In every justice system there is the possibility that the wrong person is found guilty. The death sentence is irreversible, which doesn’t allow for the re-examination of cases in which the wrong person may be convicted.

They are infringing on human rights. The right to live is the most primary human right, and capital punishment violates that directly.

There is no actual evidence that the death penalty deters crime. In a study conducted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, it states, “there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty.” If this punishment doesn’t even discourage others from committing murder, what good does it do?

There is a chance of arbitrary rulings based on race. In California, a disproportionate percentage of inmates on death row are black (36%). Capital punishment is disproportionately used against minorities.  

The system is broken, and allowing for the murder of inmates to be legal doesn’t get across the message, allow for money that the prisoner makes to be sent to their victim’s debt, or permit error in the conviction. By giving these inmates a life sentence without parole we are giving them the punishment they deserve. Living out the rest of your days in prison is constitutional. Just because the majority of people believe in capital punishment as a reasonable sentence doesn’t mean it is right. It’s cruel and hypocritical.