The Death Penalty in the United States

The United States is the “land of the free, home of the brave” and the death penalty (American National Anthem). Globally, America stands number five in carrying executions (Lockie). Since its resurrection in 1976, the year in which the Supreme Court reestablished the constitutionality of the death penalty, more than 1,264 people have been executed, predominantly by the medium of lethal injection (The Guardian). Almost all death penalty cases entangle the execution of assassins; although, they may also be applied for treason, reconnaissance, and other crimes. Partisans of capital punishment state that execution is an indispensable instrument that conserves ordinance, discourages crime, and its more economical compared to life imprisonment. According to them, retribution revenges the victim, alleviates the suffering of grieving families and assures that the culprits of reprehensible crimes never have an opportunity to perpetrate any imminent tragedies. However, the death penalty isn’t justified. Opponents of executions say that capital punishments have no belittling effect on crime, erroneously grants the government the power to assassinate, and perpetuates societal inequities such as racism, by disproportionately victimizing people of color, and classism, by discriminating against people who cannot invest on a decent attorney. They say lifetime incarceration is a more grievous and economic punishment for the perpetrator than death.

Mainly, supporters of the death penalty aver that executions dissuade crimes; however, this is a pretense. In a vote casting in Michigan state concerning the abrogation of the death penalty in 2004, Michigan legislators repulsed the support of an act that would have placed capital punishment before state voters in a ballot. Eighteen votes were missing in order to reach at the very least 2/3 of the votes required for the approval of an act that would had granted the Michiganian government the right to execute miscreants within their, Michigan, state. In an extended House disputation pertaining the bill, Michigan Representative Jack Minor apprised his coworkers that researches have proven that crime rates are subsided in states without the capital punishment. He stated, “The death penalty’s not a deterrent. In fact, the figures would suggest it’s just the opposite.” A new survey by the New York Times noted that states that abolished the death penalty (20 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) have lower homicide rates than states with the death penalty. The Times reports that ten of the twelve states without the death penalty (by the time that this survey was done, 2000, only 12 states had abolished capital punishment) have homicide rates below the national average, unlike half of the states with the death penalty which have homicide (murder) rates above. According this survey, for the past 20 years before the 2000s, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48% – 101% higher compared to states without the death penalty. Michigan’s former governor John Engler, a Republican, referred to the state’s abolition of the death penalty in 1846 as the “wisest decision” that the state of Michigan has ever done and that Michiganians are “pretty proud of the fact that [they] don’t have the death penalty.” (Bonner and Feseden) In the past ten years, the number of executions in the U.S. has increased while the murder rate has declined. Some commentators have maintained that the murder rate has dropped because of the increase in executions (see, e.g., W. Tucker, “Yes, the Death Penalty Deters,” Wall St. Journal, June 21, 2002). However, during this decade the murder rate in non-death penalty states has remained consistently lower than the rate in states with the death penalty. When comparisons are made between states with the death penalty and states without, the majority of death penalty states show murder rates higher than non-death penalty states. The average of murder rates per 100,000 population in 1999 among death penalty states was 5.5, whereas the average of murder rates among non-death penalty states was only 3.6. The deah penalty, indeed, does not hold to what it claims to be as no decline in crime rates have been seen n states who practice executions.

Besides having no minimizing effect on crime rates, capital punishments feed the beast of social injustices. Death penalty in America is defined by error. For every nine people who have been executed, we’ve actually identified one innocent person who’s been exonerated and released from death row. A kind of astonishing error rate — one out of nine people innocent. I mean, it’s fascinating. In aviation, we would never let people fly on airplanes if for every nine planes that took off one would crash. In accordance to a recently updated research by Professor Katherine Beckett of the University of Washington, jurors in Washington “were four and one half times more likely to impose a sentence of death when the defendant was black than [if ] they were in cases involving similarly situated white defendants.” The earlier version of the study had found that juries were three times more likely to recommend a death sentence for a black defendant than for a white defendant in a similar case. The disparity in sentencing occurred despite the fact that prosecutors were slightly more likely to seek the death penalty against white defendants. The study examined 285 cases in which defendants were convicted of aggravated murder. The cases were analyzed for factors that might influence sentencing, including the number of victims, the prior criminal record of the defendant, and the number of aggravating factors alleged by the prosecutor. THE ROLE OF RACE IN WASHINGTON STATE CAPITAL SENTENCING, 1981-2014 (Originally published Jan. 27, 2014, updated with additional data 2015). The original version of the study, covering only 1981-2012, is available here. And yet, in this country, in the states of the Old South, we execute people — where you’re 11 times more likely to get the death penalty if the victim is white than if the victim is black, 22 times more likely to get it if the defendant is black and the victim is white — in the very states where there are buried in the ground the bodies of people who were lynched.

In Texas, a death penalty case costs taxpayers an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years. In Florida, each execution is costing the state $3.2 million. In financially strapped California, one report estimated that the state could save $90 million each year by abolishing capital punishment. life in prison ($1.3 million) When the court sentences a person to death, the person sentenced will appeal, till he exhausts all his appeals. This whole process of appeals is very costly, and in almost 9 out of 10 cases, quite fruitless. It is just a method of delaying the sentence. It puts a strain on the economical and human resources of the judicial system.

Regardless, the only thing being accomplished by the death penalty is death itself. A country that brutally murders its citizens seems as far from developed or democratic as it can possibly be. If the United States is the beacon of freedom and justice that it claims to be, it would abolish the death penalty tomorrow. From the above analysis, it is evident that death punishment remains unjustifiable even though the issue is still debatable. Among other things, capital punishment promotes in a much costlier manner as compared to other options. Through this, the criminal justice system is unable to uphold equity and reemphasize the seriousness of capital crimes in the society. Furthermore, it aims safeguarding the lives of innocent citizens of a country by eliminating “murderers” who a lot of the times, end up being innocents. By so doing, America ignites the flame of injustice that the government has been trying to extinguish for the longest time. With objective decision making, capital punishment has more demerits than advantages and it should nor be embraced in the society.

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