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An essay donated by Minda Peyton

Reasons why I am against the death penalty

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Reasons why I am against the death penalty:

Personal reasons: I am a multi-faith person striving to practice non-violence.  

Logical reasons:

For the purpose of clarity, I will try to remove emotional reference, bias, and justifications from this argument (not to belittle, or mock life, but) to abstract the argument.  

Imagine a Logic class. The steps below connect a series of actions together in an inconsistent way.

  • Step 1: If you murder a person: I will execute you (have you put to death)
  • Step 2: Because you were wrong in murdering another. I will execute you.
  • Step 3: Through your execution, I will teach others not to murder.


The speaker granted herself permission to end a life.

If we grant ourselves permission to execute, why can’t other people also grant themselves the same permission?

The speaker follows an example she considered "wrong," [ is wrong to Grant oneself permission to murder another person ] yet she follows this "flawed" example in order to teach others...  


If a person kills another person (which is creating violence against someone who is as valued and loved as the murderer is ) He should be punished. But punishment does not equate with death.  Punishment { does not =} Death.  Punishment = ?

What is taken when someone is killed?

  • The person killed will never see, or touch their loved ones again. His family is deprived of his contributions.

  • If the person is killed before having children, they (person killed and partner) are denied this opportunity. Society has lost possible parental contribution.

  • The killed person will never fulfill his goals, plans, or dreams. Society has lost possible new ideas and social designs. Society may experience degeneration, and social loss: fewer workers, fewer experienced workers, fewer social connectors and social organizers.


How can you create “Just” laws that “fit the crime” without engaging in greater violence (or equal violence)? How can Justice be served?

Fitting the crime:

What punishment should not be: More severe than the original crime.

What punishment should do: The person should understand why his or her actions were wrong. Punishment should protect others.  

A good way “to teach” is by “showing.”  

If I wrongfully take something from you, causing you to experience loss, what should I return to you?  

Life imprisonment denies the individual convicted of murder, privileges he has taken from another individual; but for purpose other than wanting to cause the convicted person pain.  

Life imprisonment denies the “individual convicted of murder,” the very things he has taken away from another individual: seeing his family grow, touching his loved ones, having children; or enjoying the privileges society once offered him: time and opportunity to fulfill his goals, plans, or dreams.  

Society has also experienced loss when an individual is murdered. But what society has lost may not easily be recovered. Society has to actively rehabilitate persons given life imprisonment sentences, re-teaching and re-skilling prisoners to gain more useful contributions.  

Contributions prisoners make:

  • They tell their story. Many people in society benefit from reading biographies and autobiographies about people who were prisoners.

  • Return Labor. Work is a positive, constructive activity beneficial for all individuals.

  • Provide local “prison” organizers. Prisoners are actively engaged in prison communities. Prison organizers help facilitate labor, teach new prisoners, and provide connective links with inmates, prison guards, and other social organizers in the public sector.

This is “Fit Punishment.”

Moral reasons:

Life Imprisonment allows:

  1. Society to save an innocent life. [If mistakes are made in the legal process, and an innocent person is convicted, although jailed, they are not wrongly put to death.]

  2. The family of a murdered person time to forgive their “enemy.” [ Their enemy is the person who took their loved ones “violently” away.]

  3. Time spent “behind bars” can be productive if a person is willing to “work with his life.” A prisoner may not be able to enjoy normal freedoms, but the spiritual work necessary to ask for “forgiveness,” or to understand completely how their actions hurt another, is time well invested. It also keeps other people safe if such lessons are not learned

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Originally posted: 2011-FEB-03
Latest update: 2011-FEB-03
Minda Peyton
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