A Controversial Punishment: The Death Penalty

Megan Rickenbach

The death penalty is a highly debated punishment that remains legal in 38 states. In those states, an individual who commits an unforgivable crime can be tried for the death penalty. While some have no problem with the death penalty, others argue over the ethics of a punishment that may even be too extreme for the worst criminals.

Over the weekend, my friends and I decided to scour the internet for topics to discuss, and we came upon the debate over the death penalty. The topic is widely known and controversial, so it was no surprise that my friends and I disagreed on whether the death penalty should be allowed.


hands of a prisoner on prison bars

My friends who disagreed with the death penalty argued that the government isn’t teaching society a lesson by punishing the offender via death rather it could be interpreted that the government may be teaching people that death is a form of escape instead. On the other hand, my friends who agreed with the death penalty argued that keeping the offender in a penitentiary for their entire life would pull more money from people’s taxes than keeping someone in jail for a few years before sentencing them to death. They also added that the death penalty is a valid punishment because it brings justice to the family of the victim. One of my anti-death penalty friends commented, saying, “You cannot teach that killing is a bad thing by killing someone who has killed other people; it makes the lesson invalid”. The discussion kept bouncing back and forth with the pro-death penalty friends rebutting that while it may cost more money, it would be more effective in proving a point to society. The death penalty makes it clear to society that actions of terrible crimes come with severe consequences.


After participating in an enlightening discussion with my friends, I think that there are definitely some benefits to the death penalty, yet I personally believe that we should not use this extreme punishment. I believe this for the aforementioned reasons, and also because we shouldn’t warrant more death than our world has already endured. Although I do see and agree with some of the points made by those who believe in the death penalty, I firmly agree with this statement by Renny Cushing from Time, “Killing Killers Won’t Bring Back Victims.”