Why capital punishment must stay

By Seth Barhorst - Guest columnist

Capital punishment has been around since at least ancient Babylon and has found its way into the history of several countries around the world, but recently the world has turned against it. Few countries still practice capital punishment including the United States and the list is shortening as pressure from outside sources causes a global change of opinion on the subject. The European Union is one of the strongest opponents of the death penalty and the effects of their opinion can be felt around the world. Opponents are looking at the reasons to end capital punishment and not looking at reasons to keep it.

Hammurabi first introduced the death penalty in ancient Babylon and from there, it spread to all corners of the world. It was a popular practice in most large nations until recently, when the European Union decided it was inhumane. Since countries benefit from being a part of the European Union, they abolish capital punishment to join or remain a part of it. This influence has an effect on countries who still practice capital punishment because as more nations join the European Union, there are fewer places for the drugs used in the process to be made. This has left many people stuck on death row throughout the world because the nation they are from does not have the drugs that are needed to execute them. To fix this problem, countries like the United States are experimenting with new ways of carrying out the death penalty.

One of the arguments against capital punishment is that it is inhumane because of the many times it has led to suffering for the inmate rather than a civilized death. This argument stands strong alone, but when compared to the number of times prisoners were executed successfully, it weakens. Even so, countries that still practice capital punishment are continually looking for ways to minimize complications. The newest idea in the United States is the use of nitrogen gas. Instead of injecting the inmate with chemicals, the inmate is locked in an airtight room which is filled with nitrogen gas until the inmate passes out and dies from asphyxiation. This method has a lower chance of failing than lethal injection and nitrogen gas does not cause any pain to the inmate. Nitrogen gas allows the person breathing it to still release carbon dioxide from their body which means there is no sense of suffocation; some have even reported feeling a sense of euphoria before losing conciseness. This method does not only seem to be more effective at killing, it also seems to cause less pain to the inmate.

A second argument against the death penalty is the amount of money it takes to hold an inmate on death row compared to keeping them locked up for life. The reason for death row being expensive is that inmates are being held longer than they should be because the lack of the drugs needed for the procedure is causing the system to slow down. If the materials needed to perform the death penalty were readily available, the process would be sped up and the price for keeping an inmate on death row would decrease. Nitrogen is the most plentiful gas in Earth’s atmosphere. This renewable source would be cheaper to produce than the drugs needed for lethal injection, while also making it possible for any country to produce their own supply.

A third argument against the death penalty is that capital punishment is not a deterrent. If this is the case, then why do people still murder others even when they risk getting life in prison without parole rather than the death penalty? Neither punishment is going to stop someone who wants to kill from killing. The difference is one will stop them from killing again. If you throw a murderer in prison, they still have the chance to kill other inmates or correction officers, but by executing them, they are no longer a threat to anyone. Life in prison without parole also goes against the reason we have prisons: to rehabilitate inmates and send them back into the world as better people. If someone is stuck in prison with no way out, then they will have no reason to better themselves and would see no reason why they could not kill again. The execution of a murderer is the only way to make sure that they do not have another chance to harm any more people than they already have.

Sentencing someone to death has been the strictest punishment given since ancient times. It has evolved with time, as have the people who use it, but recently, the practice has lost favor with the people. The problem is that it has not conformed to the most recent social trends, but with the new methods being tested, several of the complaints people have with it are being fixed. Chances of the procedure failing or the inmate feeling pain are decreasing and easier attainment of needed materials is speeding up the process while lowering the price. There may not be any deterrent for someone who truly wants to kill, but preventing those people from killing again is the best solution.

People need to fight to keep the death penalty because without it prisons are going to fill up with those who have no escape and nothing else to lose. This will increase crimes within prisons and will still put innocent officers in danger. To fully neutralize the threat, the murderer must be executed. If nothing else, there will always be those who commit acts of violence so heinous that society will have no place for them and if capital punishment is abolished altogether, then there will be no peace for anyone.


By Seth Barhorst

Guest columnist

Seth Barhorst is a student at Edison State Community College.

Seth Barhorst is a student at Edison State Community College.