Counterpoint: Should the Death Penalty be Abolished?

Dean Ormsby, Opinions Editor

   It’s times like these when we as Americans should question the validity of our nation the most. Wild Trump supporters were climbing into the Capitol building like they were reenacting the invasion of Normandy. COVID-19  has shut down everything we loved, and we can barely find bipartisan consensus on whether we should wear masks. Senator Mitch McConnell can’t even spare each American a couple thousand dollars, while most European nations are receiving stimulus relief on a regular basis. These days, finding something our government has done right has become more challenging than ever before. With all of these failures in mind, it should be no surprise that our government has failed us in yet another field: criminal justice. While there are countless things wrong with our criminal justice system, none stands out more than the death penalty. It is a symbol of institutionalized racism, and incredibly inefficient, and while many will argue it should be abolished, reformation would be much more beneficial to our society.

   It would be incredibly immoral to discuss the death penalty without first acknowledging the many flaws it holds in its current state. We are all aware that racism affected this country long before it was ever founded, and still negatively impacts every person of color to this day. The death penalty is unfortunately no exception to this trend. According to a website dedicated to providing information about capital punishment, “The death penalty has long come under scrutiny for being racially biased. Earlier in the twentieth century when it was applied for the crime of rape, 89 percent of the executions involved black defendants, most for the rape of a white woman. In the modern era, when executions have been carried out exclusively for murder, 75 percent of the cases involve the murder of white victims, even though blacks and whites are about equally likely to be victims of murder” ( 

   There is no denying that white people are not held nearly as accountable for murder as people of color are, and this has unfortunately led to many injustices throughout our nation’s short history. Those who commit the most heinous and vile acts against others should face the ultimate punishment regardless of their race, gender, or ethnicity. According to Senior Daniel Solomon, “The death penalty is super racist, but so is the entire criminal justice system, so instead of getting rid of it, we should just try to make it less racist.”

   Many will be quick to argue that the only viable solution to this wretched problem is to completely ban the death penalty, at both the state and federal level. This would result in all convicts charged with murder to receive life sentences, rather than the ultimate punishment. This is simply outrageous, especially considering the criminal justice reform that is slowly sweeping through our country. Research has proven that prisoners who are punished for their crimes often don’t learn their lessons. According to a website dedicated to providing information on criminal justice, “Research has consistently shown that time spent in prison does not successfully rehabilitate most inmates, and the majority of criminals return to a life of crime almost immediately” (  

   To combat the high rate of second time offenders, the American prison system is slowly becoming less of a punishment for convicts. “In an effort to offer better rehabilitative services to the inmates, many prisons have begun providing psychiatrists to help deal with prisoners’ mental disorders and psychological issues. Prisons also offer classroom settings in which inmates can learn to read and educate themselves” ( These changes are definitely beneficial to those who will be released back into the real world; however, if murderers aren’t executed for their crimes, this reformation will only lead to easy, enjoyable lives for those who simply don’t deserve to live at all. Justice must be properly given at all costs, and modern day prison life is not nearly punishment enough for those who slaughter the innocent.

   Overall, it is quite evident that the death penalty serves an important role in the American criminal justice system. While it has a dark history of racial bias, and can sometimes be costly, it serves as an important symbol of justice for those who truly deserve it. Current prisons are slowly becoming less punishing, which is beneficial to those who will be released. However, murderers do not deserve to be treated with kindness and compassion. Those who argue that capital punishment is inhumane have rarely considered that these murderers did not treat people in a very humane way. Many have tortured, raped and killed their victims. These people do not possess a human conscience. They are like demons, the true personification of evil. We should not be concerned with their humanity, as they were never concerned with ours.