Costs: Death Penalty Versus Prison Costs

The Conservatives Concerned Organization challenges the notion that the death penalty is more cost effective compared to prison housing and feeding costs. The organization argues that the death penalty is an expensive lengthy and complicated process concluding that it is not only a bloated program that delays justice and bogs down the enforcement of the law, it is also an inefficient justice process that diverts financial resources from law enforcement programs that could protect individuals and save lives.

According to the Conservatives Concerned Organization’s article on the death penalty costs, the government does not include the about spent on the death penalty on the budget, but the costs are buried in the hours’ law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, clerks, and judges spend on a case and the financial costs of the legal proceedings. In New Hampshire for example, it takes 17 days for the jury selection to be completed and a total of 36 days for the death penalty trial while non-death penalty cases take an average of seven days or less for the entire trial while the jury selection takes five days or less. Moreover, a judge working a death penalty case spends a total of 53 days working on the cases. During the same amount of time, he can complete up to five different non-death penalty cases. According to Dan Springer, Fox News Correspondent, compared to non-death penalty cases, the death penalty is more expensive. The death penalty costs matter to me because I believe that the money spent on death penalty cases can be used to provide better law enforcement services and ensure people are protected.

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Todd Willingham’s Death Penalty

Todd Willingham who was executed in 2004 in Texas, US; Willingham was wrongfully accused of starting a fire which killed his three children in 1991. The film Death by Fire portrays Willingham as a man who maintained his innocence, but the law enforcement officers and arson experts based their arguments on assumptions witnesses and investigators had about Willingham. John Jackson, the prosecutor on Todd Willingham’s case state “Todd was a man physically abused his wife and after the children’s death in the fire, at a benefit dart tournament Todd bragged that he would afford anything since money was coming in.” When the police began their investigation and Willingham was the primary suspect. The original arson investigators at the time labeled the pour pattern in Todd’s house a liquid accelerant, and it is for this reason Todd was arrested and charged for arson and the death of his three children.

Socioeconomic Status Influence on Punishment

Marcus Dansby, a resident in Allen County, Indiana, and defendant in a capital murder charge filed a motion to declare Indiana State’s death penalty unconstitutional. Dansby’s motion noted the inappropriate discrimination defendants were subjected and, in some instances, mistakes were being made at the expense of a person’s liberties. The discriminations individuals face includes racial discrimination, socioeconomic discrimination, and ethnic discrimination. In Todd Willingham’s case, due to his socioeconomic status, the courts assigned two lawyers to him. David Martin, for instance, although he was Willingham’s defense lawyer, he believed that Willingham was guilty, an attitude and perception that had an impact on the service he offered his client.

Todd Willingham’s Legal Representation

The court appointed David Martin and Robb Dunn as Willingham’s attorneys. Martin David spoke openly about his client and believed to some degree Willingham was guilty. David’s attitude towards Willingham’s case might have had a negative impact on the team’s defense strategy. For instance, the two-defense attorneys did not challenge having Johnny Webb as one of the prosecutor’s defense. Willingham met Webb in prison. A shifty character and career criminal, Webb testified that Willingham had bragged that he had set off the fire that killed his children. Webb’s background and his constant violations of the law made him an unreliable witness; the fact that Dunn and David failed to object to Webb as a character witness shows that Willingham’s defense team failed to represent him in court effectively.

Death Penalty Deter Crime

Conservatives Concerned claims the idea of the death penalty deterring crime is a myth. Although the South has 80% of America’s executions, it has the highest rate of murder in America. Moreover, the South has the highest rates of murdered law enforcement officers. On the other hand, New York which has not had a death penalty conviction since 2005 has the lowest homicide level while in New Jersey there has been a decline in murder rate even though the death penalty has been repealed. In 2009 there was a study conducted amongst America’s top criminologists, and they believed the death penalty did not deter crime. The fact that the death penalty does not have an impact on criminal matters to me since it proves there is a need for the abolition of the death penalty.

Race and the Death Penalty

Race has an impact on the implementation of the death penalty. Due to racial discrimination, compared to defendants from other races, black defendants are more likely to be subjected to a death penalty. The Death Penalty Information Centre documents Philadelphia as an example. In the state of Philadelphia, 95.7% of all the defendants in the death row were African America. Ronald Castille’s first term as District Attorney was characterized by 135 defendants in the death row and 113 of them being African Americans. Race as an impact on the death penalty, people of color are more likely to be given harsher sentences than their white counterparts who have committed a similar crime.

Works Cited

Conservatives Concerned. About the Death Penalty. Equal Justice USA. 2018. Retrieved from https://conservativesconcerned.org/why-were-concerned/

Death Penalty Information Centre. DPIC Analysis: The Decline of the Death Penalty in Philadelphia. 2010. Retrieved from https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/

Deteer, Jessie. Death by Fire. PBS, 2010. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/death-by-fire/

Springer, Dan. Death Penalty Convictions Decreased in Broke Counties Nationwide. Fox News, 2011. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/us/death-penalty-convictions-decreased-in-broke-counties-nationwide   

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