Persuasive Essay

Abolish the death penalty

By Saleh Farah

General purpose: To persuade

Specific purpose: To persuade the listeners that the death penalty should be abolished.

Thesis statement: The death penalty doesn’t deter crime, costs tax payers more than imprisoning the criminal, and could result in executing an innocent person by mistake.


A quote from Mahatma Gandhi - “Father of India”, political and spiritual leader says “God alone can take life because He alone gives it…” “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

In 2007 around 25,000 people were on death row around the world; with Pakistan and the USA accounting for about half this figure between them (Bare Facts).

A.    The U.S is accounting 25%

The death penalty does not punish people for killing, but for murder. Killing is justified when it is done in self-defense. Killing means to cause death. Murder, on the other hand, is defined as, “the unlawful and malicious killing of one human being by another” (The Death Penalty)

Executing someone is not self-defense, but murder by the government.

I’m going to tell you the three reasons why the death penalty should be abolished.


The death penalty doesn’t deter crime (Capital punishment).

The Death Penalty Has No Beneficial Effect on Murder Rates

The murder rate in Canada has dropped by 27% since the death penalty was abolished in 1976. (Amnesty International)

The five countries with the highest homicide rates that do not impose the death penalty average 21.6 murders per 100,000 people. The five countries with the highest homicide rate that do impose the death penalty average 41.6 murders for every 100,000 people. (United Nations Development Program)

A New York Times survey demonstrated that the homicide rate in states with capital punishment have been 48% to 101% higher than those without the death penalty. (Raymond Bonner and Ford Fessenden, “Absence of Executions,” New York Times, September 22, 2000)

One concept of justice is the idea that for every crime there is a punishment which in some sense balances the crime. 

For Example: If I steal $100 from your wallet and later am required to pay you back $100, now the account has been settled in the monetary sense at least.

If I burn your house down, the appropriate restitution is for me to build you another house complete with furnishings to match as nearly as possible the original furnishings, and pay your expenses including your rent while your new house is being built.

But If I shoot you and you lose your right eye. Having one of my eyes removed will not restore yours. Two wrongs will not make one right.

Transition: I’ve talked about how the death penalty doesn’t deter crime now I’m going to talk about the second reason.

The death penalty costs taxpayers more than life imprisonment (Capital punishment).

In Texas, a death penalty case costs taxpayers an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years (dieter).

 In Florida, each execution is costing the state $3.2 million (Dieter).

In California, one report estimated that the state could save $90 million each year by abolishing capital punishment (Dieter).

 The New York Department of Correctional Services estimated that implementing the death penalty would cost the state about $118 million annually (Dieter).

Transition: We know two reasons why to abolish the death penalty lets find out about the third reason.

The inevitability of factual, legal, and moral errors results in a system that must wrongly kill some innocent defendants (Capital punishment).

Executed But Possibly Innocent

Carlos DeLuna Texas Conviction: 1983, Executed: 1989. An investigation released in 2006 revealed evidence that Texas may have executed an innocent man in 1989. (Death penalty info center)

Ruben Cantu Texas Convicted: 1985, Executed: 1993. Executed for murder during robbery, one eye witness who was shot and injured said that Cantu shot him because he felt pressured by the authority. After the execution he twice said that it wasn’t Cantu who shot him. There was a two-part investigative series that cast doubt on Cantu’s guilt that was executed in 1993. There wasn’t enough evidence against him but too people witnessed against him. Ruben Cantu was 17 when he was charged for capital murder. (Death penalty info center)

Larry Griffin Missouri Conviction: 1981, Executed: 1995. One man was injured in the same drive by shooting said that Griffin was not involved in the crime. More evidence lean stronger toward his innocence. (Death penalty info center)

Joseph O’Dell Virginia Conviction: 1986, Executed: 1997. New DNA blood evidence has thrown considerable doubt on the murder and rape conviction of O’Dell. (Death penalty info center)

David Spence Texas Conviction: 1984, Executed: 1997. Guilty of murdering three teenagers by mistake when he was hired to kill a girl by a convenience store owner. The police lieutenant, who supervised the investigation, said that none of the evidence shows that he’s guilty. (Death penalty info center)

Leo Jones Florida Convicted: 1981, Executed: 1998. Convicted for killing a police officer. Leo was forced to confess so he lied because he was being questioned by two officers that were fired for ethical violation. One of the officers was identified as an “enforcer” who had used torture. Later many witnesses pointed to another suspect. (Death penalty info center)

Gary Graham Texas Convicted: 1981, Executed: 2000. He was 17 when convicted. Two witnesses who worked at the grocery store were the shooting happened said that it’s not Graham who killed a man during a grocery store robbery. These witnesses were not interviewed by Graham’s attorney and were not used in court. (Death penalty info center)

Cameron Willingham Texas Convicted: 1992, Executed: 2004. Murdered for an accidental fire in his own house killing his three children. (Death penalty info center)


Why execute someone if there is no use of doing so, when it costs us more to execute a criminal than imprison them for 40 years; if an innocent person was imprisoned but found innocent after couple of years, they can still live the rest of their life that’s left but if they were executed how are we going to bring them back?

"[the death penalty] is both cruel and unnecessary", "…the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil."
Pope John Paul II - former leader of the Catholic Church

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