Flaws of Capital Punishment
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Some people feel that the death penalty is a good thing for our law enforcement because it helps to lessen potential crime. People know that if they kill someone, they will be severely punished, while other people think that it may be a form of revenge. It is a way for society to say that human life is precious, and that we will not tolerate criminal actions that take a person's life. Serious crimes deserve harsh punishments, but the death penalty contradicts what we have been taught all along, which is, "two wrongs don't make a right". I feel the death penalty is wrong because certain individuals can be wrongfully accused and be put to death, only later to be found innocent. There have been a total of 69 innocent people who have been executed in this century alone. Do you realize that a total of 74 people have been released from death row, after evidence of their innocence? (Shapiro 22-4). Out of the 3,517 condemned prisoners on death row, 21 prisoners have been released over the past 25 years. Illinois alone has exonerated nine men alone. One of these cases was discovered through the normal appeals process and others by outsider's help, but most are by scientific techniques (Shapiro 22-24).
There are a lot of holes in the justice system. If there is a chance someone could be innocent, then I feel that the death penalty should not be used. If you were innocent and you were executed, officials would not be able to bring you back. They are only going to give restitution to your family, but it does not get rid of the hurt that your family feels.
To me, rather than executing a person, you should put them in jail without parole, because people think that jail is a free ride, but it is not. Putting someone to death is definitely not the solution. It lets them off the hook too easily. I would rather see criminals have to suffer in jail without parole so they can think about the horrible crimes they committed, especially people who do not know that prison is worse than the death penalty when doing life without parole.
What if it were you who were to be executed for a crime you didn't commit? To answer that question, you would have to consider which is more important to you, your personal safety, or the common good. Common decency and ethics demand that you place the common good far above your personal safety. Therefore, you are morally obligated to take that risk, because to do otherwise would be selfish of you, not to mention cowardly. If we as a people sacrifice the personal conveniences of using electricity and fire because of the lives they claimed by accidents, then the human race would have to go back to living in caves, like cavemen did, for the fear of taking risks for social benefits. Another way would be to stop driving cars because they cause a lot of automobile accidents. In other words, for every seven executions, one other prisoner on death row has been exonerated. If as expected, the number of convictions continues to rise, so too will the risk of wrongful convictions (Shapiro 22-24).
Studies have shown that the murder rate in the United States has not gone down since the states were allowed to execute in 1976. In reality, the murder rate has increased. This is all because of the corruption that this punishment has behind it (Http:www.smu.edu/~deathpen/). Something else that needs to be taken into consideration is that it cost taxpayers almost three times the amount of money to keep them on death row than it does to hold them in prison for a lifetime (Williams 26). In this country, and anywhere else that uses the death penalty, there should be no doubt that it is an expensive, brutal, and ineffective deterrent to crime. Many people think that by killing a person we are saving the taxpayers money. In fact, holding a prisoner on death row is more expensive than holding them in prison without the possibility of parole (Williams 26).
The reason that it costs taxpayers more money to hold a prisoner on death row is because of the appeals process that they go through. A prisoner is always entitled to appeal the court decision and these appeals result in long, drawn-out processes that cost taxpayers millions. If a criminal does not have the money to hire their own attorneys, then it is the taxpayers who pay for the court- appointed lawyers that they have defending them. To give you an idea of the way things are right now in the country, let me
give you some statistics. Currently there are 36 states that preserve the death penalty: Twenty-seven states are lethal injection, twelve use the electric chair, seven use the gas chamber, four still use the old technique of hanging, and Utah still use the firing squad, though they only used it once (http://www.smu.edu/~deathpen/).
For the many people who want to keep the death penalty, it is the deterrent concern that is the main factor. There is no definite evidence that the death penalty prevents criminals from committing acts of violence. There have been studies that were done to show this result, but there were many holes, which caused the studies to be neglected. Interestingly enough, the studies showed that in some states the execution rate has gone up while the murder rate did not decline; to the contrary, murder rates increased. It
also shows that the death penalty states have a higher murder rate than non-death penalty states (Detriot Free Press10 secA). New York Governor George Pataki came up with a theory on deterrence. He said that by bringing back the death penalty in his state, he has taken the fear out of the minds of the people and put it in the minds of the criminal's
where it belongs (Pataki 52). Is this logical? How is he to prove that criminals are sane enough at the time to think things through before they commit a crime? Many criminals are not thinking beyond the moment of their crime. In addition to that, those who commit pre-meditated murder always feel that they are invincible and that they are too smart and the police too stupid for them to be caught. He further says that he has crafted the death penalty in the state to where only the most inhuman murderers are eligible and included in the numbers to be put on death row. While we are all human, what is inhumane to one may not be inhumane to another. Governor Pataki himself does not decide whether or not a criminal goes on death row. Yet, who is to make that decision? Is the death penalty just good publicity for Pataki and other politicians in Albany? Overall, I feel that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent in this country. The murder rate has not decreased but has done the opposite and increased. There is a direct relationship between the number of death row convictions and the murder rate. This further illustrates that it is not a deterrent. In addition to that, it costs a lot of money (our taxes are paying for this). We should find a better way to decrease the murder rate in this country and altogether eliminate the death penalty.
"Other Voices: In Our Opinion: Capital mistake." Detriot
Free Press, 28 Apr 1997, p.10secA.
Pataki, E. George. "Death Penalty is a Deterrent." USA
Today. V.125, No.2622 (Mar. 1 '97) p.52.
Shapiro, P. Joseph. "The Wrong Men on Death Row." U.S.
News and World Report. V.125, No.18 (Nov. 9 '98)
Williams-Harold, Bevolyn. "Costly Matter of Life or
Death." Black Enterprise. V.29, No.2622, p.52
Halperin, Rick. "The Death Penalty."
Http:www.smu.edu/~deathpen/. April 13, 199. 4:45 pm.