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Should the death penalty be abolished?
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The death penalty targets the poor

The death penalty is a greater risk for those who cannot afford strong representation.

The Argument

The criminal justice system should strive to provide all people, even the disadvantaged, with adequate representation. However, this is often not the case. According to the Penal Reform Institute, "death row prisoners in Pakistan, the United States, China, Malaysia, Malawi, and Nigeria have little in common – except that they are poor." [1] This commonality reflects the grievous tendency of death penalty sentences to target poor people. In capital cases, defendants often cannot afford to hire an experienced attorney and must settle for sub-par representation. Although some jurisdictions provide poor individuals with lawyers, they are often overworked, inexperienced with capital cases, or underpaid.[2] As a result, impoverished people are far more likely to receive the death penalty than those with better resources. The death penalty disproportionately affects impoverished people. For this reason, we should abolish it.

Counter arguments

Although it is tragic that poor people receive death penalty sentences most often, this issue reflects a need to strengthen public defense programs- not to abolish the death penalty. We cannot use flaws within our criminal justice system as a reason to abolish certain punishments, because these problems do not reflect an issue with the death penalty itself, simply with the way it is applied.



[P1] The death penalty targets poor people. [P2] For this reason, we should abolish it.

Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Friday, 19 Jun 2020 at 15:48 UTC

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