How would you feel, if you were convicted of a heinous crime, and you were about to be put to death? Worse yet, what if you were about to be put to death and you were innocent? According to Webster Online Dictionary, "Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the execution of a person by the state as punishment for a crime. " Why does the United State use this "eye for an eye" concept? It seems like such a medieval practice, one in which we continue to use in a civilized time.
One professor of law explains that, "because of the goals that our criminal Justice system just satisfy - deterring crime, punishing the guilty, acquitting the innocent, avoiding needless cruelty, treating citizens equally, and preventing oppression by the state - American simply does not have that kind of capital punishment system" (Greenberg 1670). Let's face it, our Justice system doesn't always get it right, and more than likely it never will. So, why does our government use this as a common practice?
The United States should consider abolishing all forms of capital punishment because it is not a perfect system, there will always be a risk executing innocent people, studies how that it does not deter crime, nor can it undo the damage that has been done. Reports also state that it is not cost effective, and in a few instances executions can be inhumane. Indeed, the number one argument against capital punishment is the risk of executing convicted criminals that are actually innocent. There are numerous problems with the Judicial process, which are not entirely the Jury's fault, but may result in innocent people being convicted.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, "141 prisoners in 26 states have been exonerated since 1973, and 7 of those exoneration's happened because DNA testing that established their innocents" (Death Penalty Info). What if five of those exonerated prisoners would have been executed? It is horrible that these exonerated people were even forced to sit in prison, but to follow through with an execution on even Just one would have been unacceptable. A former executioner said if, Mimi take an innocent life - that meaner [you] committed murder" (Daly 42).
Furthermore, Northwestern University of law states that, "39 claimed executions have been carried out with evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt" (Death Penalty Info). I have had the honor of serving on Jury duty three times in my adult life, and I know that the Judge tells his potential Jury during selection, that you can only convict if there is no reasonable doubt. I know that this is Just a claim by the Northwestern University of law, but what if it is accurate? Why would there be even one execution carried out with questions about guilt? There is no reason that we should be taking this risk.
Now, let's think about the years wasted on innocents in prison, years in which authorities could have pent finding the actual perpetrators. According to a study, "the average number of years an innocent prisoner spends in prison between their death sentence and their exoneration is 9. 8" (Death Penalty Info). Nearly ten years are wasted behind bars; ten years in which you are viewed by the public as a criminal. As noted on the innocent list at the Death Penalty Information Center, "Frank Lee Smith died from cancer after 14 years in prison, and was later found innocent as a result of DNA testing" (Death Penalty Info).
Could Mr.. Smith have received better medical care if he wasn't on death row for a crime he didn't commit? Now, not every convict on death row is innocent and that is a fact. However, there are enough that it should at least make us question its existence. Equally important, the main reason the capital punishment exist is because it is seen as a deterrent. Our government is basically using it as a scare tactic. By saying if you commit these types of crimes we can take your life in return. Well, studies show that there is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than long terms of imprisonment.
According to the Sacramento Bee, "Texas, New York, and California, which have all made very different use of the death penalty, have nearly parallel homicide rates" ("Death Penalty' AAA). These are three of the most populated states in the United States. Texas and California, although used very differently, have death penalties laws and New York, which has deemed it as unconstitutional, does not. They do not have lower crime rates or murder rates than state without such laws. The homicide rates in the three states rise and fall together "yet during [the study] time Texas had 447 executions, New York had none and California had 13.
Clearly, something other than executions has had an effect on declining murder rates" ("Death Penalty' AAA). According to this study, it seems as though capital punishment has no deterrent effect. I believe that it is possible murders are committed with absolutely no thought of the possible consequence. If that is indeed the case, then the possibility of a death sentence didn't deter anything. Next, I would like to ask if you feel that the death penalty undoes the damage that has been done. Some believe that it even brings peace to the victims' families.
However, in most capital cases the convict will spend years on death row before the execution happens. Yes, at first most people probably want the worst punishment for those that hurt their loved ones. However, is that the way they feel 20 years later when it is time to execute? Ross Byrd, a son of James Byrd, whom was drug to death said, muff can't fight murder with murder. Life in prison would have been fine. I know he can't hurt my daddy anymore. I wish the state would take that in mind that this isn't what we want" (Williams 28).
Think about that statement, granted, this is one example, but I am sure there are others out there that feel the name way. Does it make sense that the government is taking a life against the families wishes? My feeling is that a murderer should have sit in his or her cell and think about the crimes they have committed every day until they die. Not, in a sense, give them easy out by taking their life in return. I was always taught that two wrongs don't make a right, though in the United States we will legally take a life as a punishment for certain crimes or murder. Why not give a life sentence without a chance of parole?
It could eliminate the risk of them getting out and continuing a life f crime, as well as prevent innocent people for being executed. It will keep these offenders off of the streets, while keeping them alive. Yes there is a chance that they could escape from prison, but that goes for any criminal, as well as any crime that may have been committed. The prison system could still use their maximum security system for these types of inmates, which could help lower the chance of an escape. Naturally, the cost to keep an inmate alive for 60 years or so, as opposed to Just executing them is crossing your mind.
The capital case laws mandate that a pendant facing a possible death sentence is entitled to two attorneys rather than just one. In most capital cases the accused can't afford the cost of the trial so the cost is absorbed by the state. The accused is also entitled to have relevant experts in their cases to speak for them, once again this cost falls to the state. Capital trials tend to last three to five times longer than non-capital trials which also have a direct impact to the overall cost. Additionally, and probably the most important factor to driving up cost, is the appeal process.
Lawyer Pamela Slyly explains that "there is o limit on appeals, so the time and money spent on a capital case is unlimited" (Death Penalty Info). For example, in a performance audit report completed in Kansas: [They] counted death penalty case costs through to execution and found that the median death penalty case costs $1. 26 million. Non-death penalty cases were counted through to the end of incarceration and were found to have a median cost of $740,000. For death penalty cases, the pre-trial and trial level expenses were the most expensive part, 49% of the total cost.
The investigation costs for death-sentence cases were about 3 times greater than for non-death cases. The trial costs for death cases were about 16 times greater than for non-death cases (Death Penalty Info). There is a pretty big cost difference between capital and non- capital cases, cost that in the end come out of the taxpayer's pocket. A former corrections official figures, "that her state spent $4 billion to execute 13 inmates between 1992 and 2006 - money that would have been much better spent on fielding more cops. She notes that nearly half of Californians murders go unsolved.
If this is really about public safety, then the better option is to keep police on the streets" (Daly 44). Lastly, I would like to discuss the fact that executions can be inhumane and do not always work as planned. Granted, capital punishment has come a long way since the days of when it was used to inflict the most pain while holding them in public view. Could you imagine attending an execution today, how about witnessing a person being beheaded, burned at the stake or worse, being boiled to death like they used to? Capital punishment comes from a pretty dark past, and I know that we have gone away from those extreme violent acts.
Today, "34 states allow the death penalty while 16 states do not" (Williams 28), and in most cases rissoles on death row are generally executed by lethal injection, but a former executioner states that "as he sat behind a curtain and pulled the lever, releasing a fatal cocktail of three drugs that seemed to him less humane than the electricity he previously unleashed by pulling a switch. The chemicals of lethal injection always took eternal minutes longer than the deadly Jolt from the electric chair" (Daly 42). Of course, the United States has tried to make this a more humane system as to not inflict unnecessary pain to the condemned.
However, it is suggested that, "because f the insufficient doses, that two [men] are believed to have suffered the horror of being suffocated by the paralyzing pandemonium bromide, and then the agony of being burned from within by the potassium chloride" (Daly 44). I couldn't imagine the feeling, nor would I be comfortable with being the one who inflicted that kind of pain on another human being. In conclusion, knowing that the United States are a civilized nation why are we still using this medieval form of punishment? Yes we do it in a more humane way, as to not inflict pain to the prisoner, but we are still taking a fife for a life.
What is the excuse? Studies show that is doesn't deter crime, the cost of a capital punishment case is far more expensive, and it can't undo the damage that has already been done. Most importantly, there is always the risk of executing an innocent person. "In the meantime, executioners in 36 states will continue with the ritual that begins with swabbing the condemner's arm with alcohol, a ghoulish precaution against infection from the needle that will momentarily deliver death" (Daly 44). Works Cited Daly, Michael. "l Committed Murder. " Newsweek 3 Cot. 2011. Academic Search Premier.