Helen Prejean's Argument Against The Death Penalty

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“They’re coming for me, they’re dragging me out of my cell, they’re bringing me to the execution chamber. I’m in a sweat. And then I realize, oh, no, it’s not my time yet” (“Progressive” 2). Many people on death row have had this same nightmare, according to Helen Prejean, an American abolitionist. The death penalty, or capital punishment, first emerged as a problem in 1794 when Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the founding fathers of the United States, challenged the assumption that the death penalty is a deterrent. He thought crime was increased by the presence of the death penalty, while others thought the opposite. Even though the death penalty may deter prospective murderers, it should be abolished because it is inhumane, applied inconsistently,…show more content…
There are numerous ways to punish people who are a threat to society without executing them. No matter which way the death penalty is carried out, be it lethal injection, lethal gas, electrocution, hanging, or firing squad, the executioner is always implicated. Bryan Stevenson, a social justice activist, questions, “If it’s not right to torture someone for torture, abuse someone for abuse, rape someone for rape, then how can we think we can kill someone for killing?” (“Delaney” 1). Although executioners are permitted to kill, they are still killing another human being. They will have to live with the mental fact that they took away another person's life, when it is not necessary. Death row is inhumane because it causes mental torment. In the U.S., death row inmates usually spend over ten years waiting for their execution and that time has increasingly gotten longer in recent years (“Time” 1). This emotional distress, commonly referred to as death row syndrome, causes many inmates to lose their mind or even commit suicide. Since these death row inmates know that their time is coming to an end, they slowly lose the ability to function properly. Esther Inglis-Arkell says, “Death row prisoners, and prisoners who have been exonerated, often describe the way that their fellow death row inmates deteriorate over time. They describe some prisoners smearing feces on the wall and having psychotic delusions. Other prisoners hold long conversations with themselves. Many attempt suicide. Others simply sleep twenty hours a day.” (“Rare” 3). The anguish that the death penalty causes these inmates to feel is unreasonably cruel and no human being should have to suffer through
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