The arbitrariness of the death penalty is one of its worst attributes. If the government is going to carry out capital punishment on its citizens, it should at least be consistent about it. Death
sentences are influenced by geography, race, gender, wealth, and mental illness. No one’s life should depend on what zip code they commit a crime in. Kill someone on the New York side of the New York/Pennsylvania border? You might get life in prison. Kill someone on the
Pennsylvania side? You might get a needle in your arm. Being black, male, poor, or mentally ill plays a shockingly significant role in death sentences. Death rows are disproportionately
non-white, overwhelmingly male, dominated by people who couldn’t afford to hire their own
attorney, and positively overflowing with victims of mental illness. The death penalty is the
harshest punishment the government can inflict on its citizens. It shouldn’t depend on these
arbitrary factors.

Sarah White, Intern