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The Ineffectiveness Of Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper

The Ineffectiveness of Capital Punishment

For many years, capital punishment has been in use, but it is not been effective. Theodore Robert Bundy in 1978, slipped into a Tallahassee sorority house and bludgeoned two sleeping women to death, then killed a 12-year-old girl in Lake City. He was sentenced to three concurrent death sentences in 1979. Nine years later, Bundy is alive and well on the Death Row (Von Drehle 1A). A prisoner sentenced to death spends an average of 10 years, nationally, on death row waiting for their execution. More than 2,100 people live on America’s death Rows. At the current execution rate, it would take eighty-two years to kill them all. Death Row is going to get bigger, the wait for execution is sure to get longer, and the cost is bound to get higher. At this rate, it seems that capital punishment will never become a reasonable or efficient means of controlling violent crime.

Charles Proffitt murdered Joel Medgebow by stabbing a bread knife into Joel’s chest while he was sleeping, an act well determined to be premeditated in the case s court sessions. Three years after the crime was committed, using Profitt vs. Florida as its test case, the US Supreme Court officially gave its support to Florida’s death penalty. “Profitt could be dead in six months”, said Attorney General Robert Shevin (von Drehle 1A). Today, 15 years after his heinous crime, Charles is still alive and well, and living off of the money paid by Florida state tax payers, as should be well noted. He is sewing uniforms at the Florida’s state prison. The Supreme Court commuted his sentence last year to life in prison. The state of Florida spent five hundred thousand dollars in one decade to bring Proffitt to justice and half of that was spent to send Proffitt to the his death in the electric chair.

The death penalty is slow and weak. It actually ends up costing much more than life in prison without parole, and all of that cost coming from tax payers money. It has cost Florida at least fifty-seven million dollars since 1973 to achieve eighteen executions. There is an average cost of three million two hundred thousand dollars per execution (Miami Herald, July 10, 1988). Thirty-six inmates on the Florida’s death row have been there more than 10 years. Florida’s senior Death row resident, Howard Douglas, is in his 15th year awaiting the consummation of his sentence and his execution is nowhere in sight. Half of all death sentences are overturned on appeal, usually after several years of expensive lawsuits and rigorous legal proceedings. For every actual execution in America, courts sentence thirteen more people to die. Experts are coming to a conclusion that little or nothing can be done to fix the system if it continues to allow the legal processes concerning the death penalty continue as they are.

According to a study prepared for the Federal Judiciary Committee, the number of capital punishment cases on appeal in the federal courts will be more than tripled in the next two years if the system continue to operate as it does now. The study concluded that the lawyers needed to handle theses appeals would cost the nation’s taxpayers over thirty million dollars a year. California has 234 prisoners on the Death Row, the third largest population of convicts awaiting execution in the country. Its last execution was 1967. However, the tax-funded budget for defense attorneys is more that two million dollars a year, which, again, is actually funded by the citizens of that state.

Capital Punishment is cruel and inhumane. It is a slow process to complete, in terms of actually getting the convict executed, as it is known to take years before the actual day of execution. Prisoners stay in their cells for about 10 years, courtesy of the tax paying citizens of their respective states, waiting for their death.

The death penalty is morally wrong and unacceptable. When a person commits murder, the only morally acceptable way for the criminal justice system to act is to send the criminal to prison for life. Once in prison, the criminal should then be forced to produce something which would result in a financial revenue for the state which is equal to, if not greater than, what it costs to keep that prisoner alive. Capital Punishment degrades the moral level of society and cheapens the purity of life because society is willing to kill its killers, to set a death right by incurring another in retribution for it. It makes society more savage and uncivilized. Some feel that permitting premeditated murder is totally unacceptable, even if done by the state, which sets a ridiculous standard as the state then sets the point of justice at that of revenge. By executing a killer, the state is unwittingly promoting a vicious cycle of death, stating to its citizens that if one kills, one will be killed in return. This is obviously not the manner in which a civilized group should carry itself.

Capital punishment lowers the value of human life as seen by the general population. Many convicted murderers are found innocent in appellate cases, and have been pardoned, often times many years after having been initially convicted and sentenced to death. “In 1987, the Stanford Law Review published a study. They found substantial evidence which suggested that at least 350 people between 1900 and 1985 in America might have been innocent of the crime for which they were convicted, and could have been sentenced to death” (”Capital punishment in the United States”).

Capital Punishment does not deter offenders. Governments that promote the death penalty as the answer to violent crimes continue to have higher murder and violent crime rates than those which do not use the death penalty and rather use other methods to penalize its convicted criminals. The five countries with the highest homicide rates that do not impose the death penalty average 21.6 murders per every one hundred thousand people, whereas the five countries with the highest homicide rate that do have the death penalty average 41.6 murders per every one-hundred thousand people. The average murder rate per one hundred thousand people in the United States, with capital punishment as the penalty for a conviction thereof, is about 8 percent, while only 4.4 percent in non-capital punishment states. More than two thousand people live in American’s Death Rows, all of them being supported in every meal, every shower, and every night s sleep by tax paying citizens. At the current execution rate, it would take eighty-two years to kill them all, along the course of which many would die naturally anyway. “The number on prisoners on death rows at the end of 1997 was three thousand three hundred thirty-five. This was a three percent increase from 1996″ (”Capital Punishment in the United States”).

An interesting argument is raised by Mr. Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor of The Progress Report. He states that there are only four morally justifiable reasons for punishing a person, convict or not. These are: First, the protection of society. A criminal may be punished for the rest of his natural life in order to keep him from disrupting or possibly destroying our society. However, if that convict is put in a prison cell, then he poses no threat to our society, hence, there is no need for him to be killed. Second, rehabilitation and reform. A prisoner who has killed is most often not beyond reproach and might still be reformed and rehabilitated so that he might become a contributing member of society. As this is so, killing this person would be a waste of vast potential on the part of the government. Third, deterrence. Several studies conducted in the past have demonstrated that the average convicted murderer fears a life in prison more than he does a swift execution. Hence, if the threat of being killed for killing someone isn t as great a detereent of these violent crimes as the threat of spending the rest of your life in a jail cell, then why even consider the death penalty? Lastly, restitution of the damage. A criminal would be expected to make some sort of reparation for the damage they cause. If they break a window, they replace it. If they stale a car, they replace that. However, if a criminal takes a life, killing them doesn t give them much of a chance to make reparations, does it? Rather, instead of killing them, put them to work, so that the remainder of their lives might be spent contributing to society so as to try and replace the life they took by producing as much as two people do.

The final verdict on this topic, then, should not be one of support for the death penalty, but rather of opposition to it. It is more expensive, it is less effective, and above all, it is wrong. To continue to allow the death penalty is to continue to allow the states to wander around blind in search of a greater good for itself and its citizens.

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