Abolish the Death Penalty NOW!

Target: U.S. Congress
Goal: To abolish the death penalty within the United States

The death penalty is an outdated and inhumane form of punishment that dates back to the fifth century BC. Over its history, the death penalty has evolved from its nascent stage where it was once the only form of judicial punishment to a phase in which 49% of the 194 United Nations (UN) members have abolished it. While many countries are taking action, either through abolishment or through the declaration of moratoriums, there are still many others, such as the United States, in which death remains the capital punishment in judicial law. In 2010, the United States carried out 46 executions, thus ranking fifth on the list of countries to have carried out executions that year. China was ranked 1st with 2,000 executions and Iran was ranked 2nd with 252. As of 2011, 32 executions have been carried out and 3, 242 people are awaiting executions in the United States.  The current methods of execution in the U. S. are lethal injections and electrocution.  Although there are some states within the United States that have abolished the death penalty, several southern states such as Alabama, not only use the death penalty as a form of capital punishment, but also as a form of racial discrimination. The death penalty needs to be abolished because not only does it violate a person’s basic rights, it is responsible for putting innocent people to death, and is sometimes used as a means of targeting minority populations.

The usage of the death penalty in the United States violates a person’s basic human, civil, and political rights. Human rights, as listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), guarantees each individual – regardless of national origin – the right to life, liberty, and security. The death penalty, which equates to the pre-meditated and cold-blooded murder of a person, violates the three tenets that make up this right. The death penalty also violates an individual’s civil and political rights. However, unlike with human rights, the violation occurs on a state level rather than on an individual level. Through these civil and political rights, the American government is obligated to protect its citizens and ensure their safety and integrity. By maintaining the death penalty, states are not ensuring the integrity and security of their citizens if they are able to legally execute accused individuals.

The death penalty is also responsible for putting innocent people to death. In the United States, evidence shows that for every 8 people that are executed, 1 innocent person is found on death row and exonerated. What this statistic doesn’t show is how many people, who are actually innocent, are never exonerated and, as a result, are executed. Lastly, in some states within the United States, the death penalty is used as a  method of racial discrimination. It was found in a study that 96% of the states where there have been reviews of race and its relationship with the death penalty, a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination were evident. Those that are most likely to be sentenced to death are minorities, especially when the victim was Caucasian.

In order for innocent lives to be saved, for racial discrimination to be confronted, and for human rights to be upheld, the American government needs to abolish the death penalty. We are the only developed country in the world that continues to execute its citizens. The death penalty is an antiquated form of punishment that does not adhere to the standards of dignity and integrity we uphold for our citizens today.  It’s time states abolished the death penalty and started protecting its citizens!

[PETITION LETTER]

Dear U.S. Congress,

In this year alone you have executed 32 people and allow 3,242 people to sit on Death Row to await their executions. Last year, you executed 46 people. The United States ranked fifth in the world with the most number of executions; China and Iran ranked first and second. We continue to be the only Western country to use the death penalty as a form of capital punishment in judicial law. As one of the most developed countries in the world, are we not supposed to set the standard for human dignity and security? The death penalty violates a person’s human, civil and political rights; puts innocent people to death; and, in the United States, is used as a form of racial discrimination.

As listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every individual is guaranteed the right to life, liberty, and security. Sentencing an individual to await his/her own death violates all three of these aspects as the individual now finds that his life, liberty, and security have been stripped, leaving him defenseless and subject to await his own inevitable, carefully planned death. It has also been found that for every 8 people that are executed, 1 innocent person is found on death row and exonerated. This statistic does not take into account the number of innocent people who have never been exonerated and, as a result, have been executed. Lastly, the death penalty is used as a form of racial discrimination in some states. In a study that reviewed the relationship between race and the death penalty, it was found that in 96% of states with the death penalty there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination.

In order to protect American citizens and ensure the safety, integrity, and liberty of individuals in this country, the American government needs to abolish the death penalty. It is an outdated form of punishment that is responsible for taking away innocent lives and, most often, is used as a tool to target racial minorities. How is it that, in a democratic state, we rank 5th in executions behind oppressive states such as China and Iran? It’s time the government abolish the death penalty and start taking the rights of individuals seriously!

Sincerely,

[Your Name Goes Here]

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