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Death Penalty Errors Essay, Research Paper

Frym’ or Stickm’: Either Way It Is Wrong Today’s system of capital punishment tolerates many inequalities and injustices. The common arguments for the death penalty are filled with holes. Imposing the death penalty is expensive and time consuming. Each year billions of dollars are spent to sentence criminals to death. Perhaps the most frequently raised argument against capital punishment is that of its cost. Other thoughts on the death penalty are to turn criminals away from committing violent acts. A just argument against the death penalty would be that sentencing an individual to death prevents future crimes by other individuals. However, criminals are not afraid of the death penalty. The chance of a criminal being sentenced to death is very slim. The number of inmates actually put to death is far less than it was decades ago. This decrease in number shows that the death penalty is faulty. With that being true, many criminals feel that they can get away with a crime and go unpunished. Also, the less that the death sentence is invoked, the more conflicting it becomes when it is actually used. Alternative can be found to substitute for the death penalty. A huge misconception of the death penalty is that it saves society the costs of keeping inmates imprisoned for long periods of time. Ironically, the cost of the death penalty is far greater than the cost of housing a criminal for life. Appeals on the death penalty become a long, drawn-out and very expensive process. There are those who cry that we, the taxpayers, shouldn’t have to “support” condemned people for an entire lifetime in prison-that we should simply “eliminate” them and save ourselves time and money. The truth is that the cost of state killing is up to three times the cost of lifetime imprisonment (Long 80). The process of sentencing one to death is not as simple as it sounds. Once an individual is sentenced to death, he begins to appeal the court decision, which can take many years. In many cases there are many years in between the sentence and the actual execution. Trial courts cost and prison costs amassed while awaiting execution, total up to large sums of money. Additionally, there are costs for prosecution and defense. Comparing the cost of the death penalty to a life sentence makes the sentence of life imprisonment sound like a good arrangement. Is it really worth the hassle and money to kill a criminal, when we can put them away for life for less money with a great deal more ease? The death penalty needs to be revised and altered so that it is more cost and time efficient. Supporters of the death penalty claim, is that it is just retribution for someone who commits the heinous crime of murder. The death penalty assures that the convicted murderer is being paid back for his or her wrongdoing, and revenge has been accomplished. If the state is interested in executing convicted killers in order to teach them the high value that society holds for human life, doing so doesn’t accomplish this. Killing a person to show him killing another is wrong is an injustice in itself (Zimring 76). Supporters of the death penalty express the archaic view of “an eye for an eye” often, yet this view is not associated with any other crimes. A court would find it difficult to sentence a rapist to suffer a sentence of rape, as they would have trouble burning down the house of someone who was convicted of arson. These punishments would undoubtedly be considered as cruel and unusual, and would never be permitted in today’s society. The same views should be held regarding the death penalty. In addition, the executing of a killer to enact revenge will never bring back the life of a victim. At some point, the violence must be stopped. The most common rationale for support of the death penalty is that of deterrence. Logically, a person who knows that they might be executed if they are convicted of a capital crime will think twice before committing the offense. The fact of this matter is that the majority of the people who do commit these crimes are not very logical at the time of the offense. There are a great number of murder cases, in which the killer was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, psychologically distressed, in emotional turmoil, or in some way or another unable to control their own behavior (Clear & Cole 517). In cases such as these, the idea of capital punishment, let alone any other form of punishment at all, have not even entered the mind of the criminal. There have been numerous studies done to attempt to prove that the death penalty is actually a deterrent, however all of the evidence gathered on the subject makes it hard to be confident that this form of punishment deters any more than a life sentence in prison does (Cavanagh 4). In fact, a comparison of the murder rates in states with the death penalty and states without the death penalty reveals that the states with capital punishment have murder rates twice as high. In addition, our society’s growing humanitarianism has curbed the number of executions greatly over the past fifty years. The decline in the use of this punishment creates a situation, in which the penalty ceases to be deterrent, because people believe that they can get away with the crime and go unpunished. Moreover, the less that the death sentenced is used, the more society views it as unusual. This view conflicts with the eighth amendment banning the practice of cruel and unusual punishments, which essentially leads to a paradox. The less society actually utilizes the death penalty, the less society can legally use it. The end result is a punishment, which ceases to deter any crime at all (Selling 35). The key part of the death penalty is that it involves death. This creates a dilemma of morality and a major problem when there continue to be many instances of innocent people being sentenced to death. According to a 1987 study, 23 people who were innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted were executed between 1900 and 1985 (Long 79). In our legal system, justice can be poorly served in many ways. Many people are wrongly convicted and sentenced to prison time or even death. If a defendant has a valid case to offer, what chance does one have to get a fair trial? Why should a criminal be punished for a crime that he did not commit? Even if a defendant has a good defense, he must still battle the impartiality of the judges. There are many factors that could affect the outcome of the trial. In earlier times where capital punishment was common, the value of life was not the same as it is today. Considering the number of executions then was far greater than it is today, capital punishment was far more acceptable. However, in today’s society, which is becoming ever more humanitarian, the death penalty is becoming a poor form of punishment. Also, with the possibility of mistaken execution, the question of innocence will remain concerning those put to death. Any question of innocence of a person sentenced to death is very important. One should not be executed for something that they did not commit. One might argue that there are misfortunes with everything in life, however, when an individual’s life is on the line, there is no room for misfortune or mistake. What right does we, as human beings have to inflict mortal punishment on an individual for the sake of society, when there are suitable substitutes that require fewer resources? Capital punishment is nonsense. There are many reasons to abolish it in all states. Not only is it more expensive to execute someone tan it is to keep them in prison for life, but also it takes a chance of executing an innocent person. Evidence proves that capital punishment does not influence a person’s decision at the time of the murder. Capital punishment supporters need to realize this and quit wasting the taxpayer’s money on immortal acts. Both sides need to come together, as one and we need to join together and defeat crime or it will overtake us. We can no longer sit and let our lives be terrorized. No longer can we sit back and watch criminals be released and then commit crime again. We must no longer live our live in fear. We must come together and draw the line where crime is concerned. We must make the world safe so that we along with the next generations can live in a world without the fear of being senselessly killed or losing our loved ones.


Works Cited Long, Robert Emmet. Criminal Sentencing. New York, NY: H.W. Company, 1995. Zimring, Franklin E. Capital Punishment and the American Agenda. Cambridge, 1987. Clear, Todd R., and Cole, George F., American Corrections (3rd Edition). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1994. Cavanagh, Suzanne. “Capital Punishment: A Brief Overview”. CRS Report For Congress 95-505GOV (1995): 4. Sellin, Thorsten. The Penalty of Death. Sage Publishing Co., 1980.

Works Cited Long, Robert Emmet. Criminal Sentencing. New York, NY: H.W. Company, 1995. Zimring, Franklin E. Capital Punishment and the American Agenda. Cambridge, 1987. Clear, Todd R., and Cole, George F., American Corrections (3rd Edition). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1994. Cavanagh, Suzanne. “Capital Punishment: A Brief Overview”. CRS Report For Congress 95-505GOV (1995): 4. Sellin, Thorsten. The Penalty of Death. Sage Publishing Co., 1980.

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