Student essays: Capital punishment

Published May 7, 2007

Seventh-grade students in an Advanced Language Arts class at Challenger K-8 recently completed an assignment from teacher Elisabeth Awtrey. These are the best (as judged by Times editors, kids, so don't blame Ms. Awtrey if yours aren't included) of more than a dozen opinion essays submitted to the newspaper. We thought the following ones about capital punishment were particularly well-done.


There are 12 states that don't support capital punishment, and 38 that do, including Florida. There are many obligations to abide by when the state you live in performs capital punishment.

When I hear that someone was executed by using the death penalty, it gives me goose bumps and chills.

You also could be wrongly accused, and it costs us money to execute the accused. Our state should make a wise decision and stop enforcing capital punishment.

There are many problems with capital punishment.

One problem they could encounter would be finding out that the person they are ready to execute is innocent and didn't commit the crime. That would be a waste of time, money and the innocent person's life.

If that happened to me in my family, I would be extremely upset and mad at the people who execute other people, because they should have done their job and found out sooner that the person shouldn't have been executed.

Since 1973, over 120 people have been released from death row because they were proven innocent.

Adding to the reason why our country should ban the death penalty, the death penalty costs our country, state and its people millions of dollars each conviction. The death penalty costs Florida more than $51-million a year to enforce. I know that Florida could do a lot better things with that money and put it to use in schools, hospitals and animal shelters.

Consequently, capital punishment has a wide effect on the country, the states that don't support it and the ones that do. Being wrongly accused, and capital punishment costing our country and state money, are only some of the many problems capital punishment causes.

Without it, we would pay less money for taxes and there would be less problems.

Sam Couture

Who thinks they have the right to take another person's life?

Sometimes people are false witnesses, which, in some cases, causes a person to be executed. In addition, God says thou shall not kill, and we should listen to him. We should definitely be against capital punishment.

No one ever, in any case, should have the right to take another person's life away from them. Life is precious and should be treated fairly. If you take someone's life, you're no better than they are. Taking someone's life is very wrong.

Witnesses sometimes lie to cover up their own involvement, causing someone else to face the death penalty.

If a person was in the wrong place at the wrong time, sometimes they can't prove themselves not guilty. Also, courts present cases against people that cause them to look guilty.

Children playing with guns who accidentally kill someone should not face the death penalty because it was accidental.

People who are out of control and hurt each other, sometimes killing, should not face the death penalty because of over excitement. People accused of being guilty for war crimes also shouldn't face the death penalty because they're following orders, not personal desires.

In conclusion, we should definitely be against capital punishment for the reasons explained, and many more.

Capital punishment is erroneous and should never be tolerated.

Jessica Doolittle


Capital punishment is a very controversial subject with people everywhere, including me. I believe in the positive side of capital punishment. It can be very effective.

Capital punishment puts minds at rest, prevents further crimes and eliminates dangerous people.

It feels terrible to lose someone you care about. Whether it's a family member or a close friend, it hurts when you can no longer see them again, especially if that person was the victim of a vulgar crime. If I was the one to lose someone to an insane murderer, I would want them to pay with their life.

Capital punishment would be the obvious and sensible choice in this situation. Having the criminal gone will put the minds of the mournful family members at peace. People won't have to worry about the dangers still being out there.

When someone commits a crime, chances are they'll do it again. Capital punishment prevents this from happening. The criminal will be removed from society, and they won't have the chance to hurt anyone ever again. Many lives would be saved just by having the criminals executed. Victims of kidnappings, murders and all other crimes will get to live.

There are so many threatening people in the world today. Although taking away one of them might not seem like a big difference, it is. Putting capital punishment into affect may be a slow process, but it's worth it. In the end, we get something - less crimes and criminals. That's all we really want, isn't it?

In conclusion, capital punishment is a very affective consequence for those who commit heinous crimes. Capital punishment will put minds at rest, prevent further crimes and get rid of dangerous criminals.

Julia Poholek

Do you agree with the use of capital punishment?

If serious criminals are executed, then it might act as a deterrent for others. Also, people would be less likely to be harmed and society wouldn't have to pay for their imprisonment. No wonder the taxes keep raising.

Would you like to feel safer?

If we continue to allow the use of capital punishment, severe criminals will get executed. If a criminal is executed, they would no longer be a threat because they wouldn't be around to hurt anyone else. Therefore, less people would be harmed! Also, if we have severe punishment, fewer crimes would be committed. Now, that would help me sleep easier.

If we enforce capital punishment, criminals might think twice about whether what they're doing is worth the risk of dying. Because of this, the severe penalty could act as a warning. This might also create a deterrence for someone serving a life sentence from committing a crime while in jail, for example, injuring or killing another prisoner or guard.

When we put someone in jail, the community has to pay for their food, shelter and all the costs that go with it. An increase in criminals also leads to having to build more prisons, which is costly and is passed down to taxpayers.

For example, in Washington, a new 2, 000 bed prison costs about $250-million and costs about $4.5-million a year to operate. On average, the yearly cost per prisoner for the taxpayer is $31, 600. I don't know about you, but I believe this money should go toward other things, such as supporting the victims of crimes.

Convicted criminals of serious crimes should be punished and capital punishment is meant for those criminals. Victims of crimes and innocent people should feel safe. With the use of capital punishment the dangerous criminals can't hurt anyone else. It would create a deterrent for other criminals and prisons won't be as full and society won't have to pay for their imprisonment.

Nicole Albarella