Write a letter to your state legislator in which you explain whether or not you believe the death penalty is a just form of capital punishment to be permitted in your state. 

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Here on eNotes, we cannot actually write this letter for you.  In this answer, I will try to give you ideas on what to write about.  I will give ideas both for and against the idea of the death penalty. In each case, you will need to have three main points.  Your first paragraph should be an introduction and your last paragraph should be a conclusion and/or a call to action.  The three body paragraphs should each discuss one of your main points.

If you are in favor of the death penalty, you could use any three of these points:

  • It is just to execute people for the worst crimes.  Any other punishment would be too lenient.
  • The death penalty is a good way to deter crime.  People who might commit murders might be deterred because they do not want to be convicted and executed.
  • The death penalty is necessary so that society knows that we are serious about protecting law-abiding citizens. If we let people literally get away with murder, people will feel that the government is not willing to protect their lives.
  • The death penalty as administered today is humane.  If there is any pain, it is minimal and the criminals get a very easy death, particularly when compared with the deaths of the people they killed.

If you are opposed to the death penalty, you could use any three of these points:

  • The death penalty is not about justice, it is about revenge.  All it does is it gives us a feeling that we have gotten “an eye for an eye.”
  • The death penalty is too arbitrary. There is no consistency about who gets it and who does not.  People can commit very similar crimes and get very different punishments.
  • It is impossible for people to fairly determine who deserves to live and who deserves to die.  We end up using our prejudices to help us make this choice.
  • There are too many instances of innocent people who have been put on death row. This shows that we are likely to execute innocent people if we have the death penalty.
  • The death penalty does not deter crime. People do not generally choose rationally when deciding whether to kill.  They are typically acting on emotion and are not considering the consequences.

To write your letter, pick one of these sides. Write a good introduction in which you state which side you take on this issue.  Write a conclusion in which you urge your legislator to take some action to support your point of view.  Be sure that you write in a professional, formal manner.

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Dear Senator or Representative Smith,

       I believe we should pass a law allowing for capital punishment to be a penalty for certain serious crimes which involve killing another person. When a person intentionally and ruthlessly kills somebody, they should pay with their life instead of being in prison for the rest of their life.  It is very costly to society to keep a person in jail forever. Since this person will never leave prison, and since this person inflicted so much harm to the family of the deceased, it is justifiable for this person to be killed. Allowing the death penalty to exist and possibly be used will bring a sense of closure to the victim’s family.  The death penalty may also serve as a deterrent to intentionally killing a person. Therefore, I urge you to support the passage of a law allowing for the death penalty to be a form of punishment for certain crimes involving killing in our state.


Your Name

Dear Senator or Representative Smith,

            I believe we should not pass a law allowing for the death penalty to be a punishment for certain crimes. While taking a person’s life is a serious crime, it doesn’t make it right to take another person’s life for the same reason. This is acting in a very barbaric way. Responding to violence with more violence is not an acceptable way to deal with the killing. It sends a message that our government will kill a person if that person kills somebody. It keeps the cycle of violence going. There are ways to make the convicted killer serve time and still be productive to society while in prison. There are various jobs the convicted killer could do while in prison that could help society. For these reasons I urge you to not support any bills allowing for the death penalty to exist in our state.


Your Name

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