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Should the death penalty be abolished? Show more Show less

Capital punishment is the government-sanctioned execution of an individual as retribution for a crime. Although most countries have abolished death penalty sentences, many retain this practice, including the United States, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Should we abolish the death penalty, or support each government's right to punish crime as it sees fit?

Yes, we should abolish the death penalty Show more Show less

The death penalty unjustly targets vulnerable demographics, wastes taxpayer money, and violates the sanctity of human life.
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The death penalty targets people with mental illnesses or intellectual disabilities.

It is difficult to definitively prove that a defendant has a mental illness or intellectual disability. As a result, criminals who suffer from these conditions often receive the death penalty.
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Context

The Argument

There is considerable evidence that the death penalty unfairly affects people with mental illnesses or intellectual disabilities. According to Mental Health America, it is estimated that 20 percent of death row prisoners suffer from a serious mental illness. [1] Before the Supreme Court banned such executions, at least forty-four people with intellectual disabilities were executed in the United States. [2] It is unfair to consider people with intellectual disabilities or mental illnesses as culpable for their actions because they often suffer from psychosis or do not realize what they are doing while committing a crime. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that mental illness should be a serious consideration in death penalty proceedings, it is often difficult to prove that a person's mental illness seriously impacts their decision-making abilities.[3] In some states, an individual is required to have a medically documented history of mental illness if they are to avoid the death penalty. [4] As a result, mentally ill prisoners face a high risk of receiving death sentences. For this reason, we should abolish the death penalty.

Counter arguments

The execution of a person with a mental illness or intellectual disability is wrong, but this does not necessarily imply that we should abolish capital punishment. The death penalty's misuse reflects fault in our criminal justice system, not in the punishment itself. The death penalty's weaponization toward vulnerable communities is tragic. We must protect these demographics from wrongful execution, but retain the death penalty for those who truly deserve it.

Framing

Premises

[P1] The death penalty is unfairly weaponized against people with mental illnesses or intellectual disabilities. [P2] For this reason, we should abolish the death penalty.

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.mhanational.org/issues/position-statement-54-death-penalty-and-people-mental-illnesses
  2. https://eji.org/issues/death-penalty/
  3. https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/policy-issues/mental-illness
  4. https://www.themarshallproject.org/2019/04/17/he-s-living-with-severe-mental-illness-should-he-face-the-death-penalty

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 16 Jun 2020 at 01:18 UTC