The Death Penalty: Fair or Not? by N.W.

With the number of mass shootings inside the United States skyrocketing in recent months, much attention has been brought to the way the court system has been handling its prosecutors.  Philip Holloway, a CNN legal analyst, uses a recent example of a mass shooting court case to argue that one of the most controversial capital punishment practices is unconstitutional.  The practice: The Death Penalty.  

In July of 2012, James Holmes, a young man in Colorado, shot up a movie theater premier, killing 12 and injuring many more.  Since then, the Colorado jury had been in the process of prosecuting Holmes, before convicting him of first-degree murder.  Holloway states that now, the Jury has begun the process in determining how to punish Holmes, and will now decide whether or not to “execute” Holmes, or sentence him to life in prison.  It is at this point when Holloway makes his claim that the United States should “put an end to capital punishment completely”.  Holloway then presents five reasons to get rid of the death penalty as a whole.  He states that the degree of punishment, expense, time it takes to process, inconsistency and ineffectiveness are all reasons as to why the United States should look to do away with the death penalty.   Primarily due to its cost and feebleness, the United States has no use for the death penalty and should no longer use it to deter crime.

As Holloway states in his article,  one reason why the death penalty isn’t necessary is because for a lot of convicts, prison life can be just as bad, often times worse than death.  In several prisons throughout the country, convicts are kept in isolated cells where they have little to no interactions with other inmates, and often spend up to 23 hours a day locked up in them.  This level of confinement can be considered a worse punishment than instant death because everyone dies anyway, and instead of a quick, painless death, the achingly slow experience that is life in prison can cause many to go insane before it’s over.  Because the differences in level of severity between death row and life in prison are so minimal, there is no need to implement death row in the first place.  

Both the cost and timeframe also make the death penalty an unnecessary practice in the United States.  Holloway uses two separate points in his piece to make these arguments clear.  He states that because it takes so long for a jury to process a death penalty case, there needn’t be a need for it in society.  Because it takes around 25 years for the jury to come to a decision, the death penalty is impractical.  Also, it is unfair to the families of the victims of the crimes, as 25 years going to cases and hearings about something so emotional can certainly leave a toll on the psyche and well-being of a person.  Also, 25 years of cases and hearings can be incredibly expensive as well.  Holloway estimates that, on average, over $3.5 million is put into each “death penalty related” case, a number that would be $0 if life sentences were the norm.  

It is reasonable to enforce intense punishment on people who commit serious, major crimes, especially mass shootings.  That said, the death penalty should not be one of those punishments.  When compared to other possible punishments, such as life in prison without parole, the death penalty is deemed totally impractical.  The United States needs to make several changes to its punishment system, and they can start by making the death penalty the absolute worst possible outcome for a convict and also by making the process a quicker and cheaper one.  Until then, the United States has no use for the death penalty.  

Works Cited


Facts about the Death Penalty. Washington, DC: Death Penalty Information Center, 1999. Web.

Holloway, Phillip. “It’s Time to Question the Sanity of the Death Penalty.” N.p., 26 July 2015. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Multiple, Sources. “Part I: History of the Death Penalty.” Part I: History of the Death Penalty. DPIC, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

Whitaker, Bill. “30 Years on Death Row.” N.p., 11 Oct. 2015. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.


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