Death Penalty

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The death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1977, and since then murderers and rapist have been executed for the violent and harsh crimes they were found guilty of committing. In the past thirty years over 1,200 prisoners have been put to death for crimes in which they were convicted. The government of each state executes these prisoners by way of the electric chair, gas chamber, and the most common way lethal injection. A survey, from the Death Penalty Information Center, shows that over half of the citizens in the United States support the death sentence.

Some supporter of the death penalty may even believe that sparing the guilty shows them mercy and the victims’ families no justice. If over half of the country is for the death penalty, then why should it be abolished? The United States of America should abolish the death penalty not to show mercy to the guilty but because it costs more than life in prison without parole, it is not effective in reducing crime, its racially biased and innocent people could be executed. The high cost of death penalty cases cost each state millions each year.

The alternative to the death penalty, life in prison without parole can save the states thousands of tax dollars. According to the Associated Press, it’s cheaper to imprison killers for life than to execute them. Dieter points out in the article What Politicians Don’t Say About the High Costs of the Death Penalty that “death penalty cases are much more expensive than other criminal cases and cost more than imprisonment for life with no possibility of parole. ” Research shows that Texas is spending an estimated $2. million dollar per death penalty case and each execution in Florida cost the state 3. 2 million (Dieter).

Connecticut and Illinois are two states that abolished the death penalty due high cost, but other states still choose to pay millions in tax payer’s money to execute prisoners. The Death Penalty Information Center reports that “in Maryland an average death penalty case resulting in a death sentence costs an estimated 3 million dollars. ” A study also found that the death penalty costs North Carolina 2. 6 million per execution over the cost of a life in prison without parole sentence. The same study shows that California is another state that is considering getting rid of the death penalty. California has a more inmates on death row than any other state in the United States; therefore, the cost of execution takes a huge toll on tax dollars.

Flatow reports, “that a study shows that California’s death penalty system would cost taxpayers between 5. 4 and 7. 7 billion more between now and 2050 than if those on death row were sentenced to life in prison without parole. Supporter of the capital punishment would argue that the death penalty deters crime but, statics prove otherwise. Bonner and Fessenden note that “during the last 20 years the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty, and that 10 of the 12 states without capital punishment have homicide rates below the national average. ” Southern states such as Texas, Virginia, and Alabama are among the states that carry out the most executions.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, a 2010 FBI Uniform Crime Report showed that the south had the highest murder rate and the south accounts for over 80% of executions. Dieter reports that three of Texas cities, Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth rank among the nation’s top 25 most deadly cities. Maine, Vermont, Hawaii and Washington do not use the death penalty for punishment and they are among the top ten states with the lowest crime rate. “The homicide rate in West Virginia is 30% below the homicide rate in Virginia, which has one of the highest execution rates in the country” (Bonner and Fessenden).

The race of the victim is a huge factor in death penalty cases. The chances of being sentence to death for a crime committed on a white person are much higher than any other race. Bonner and Fessenden report that the death sentence is used more when the victim is white and 82% of the victims of death row inmates are white, while only 50% of all homicide victims were white. The Death Penalty Information Center reports that “in Louisiana, the odds of a death sentence were 97% higher for those whose victims was white than for those whose victims was black.

A study in California found that those who killed whites were over three times more likely to put to death than those who killed blacks and over 4 times more than those who killed Latinos (The Death Penalty Information Center). The pie chart below provided by Amnesty international USA displays the race of the victim in each execution case since 1977. The information displays that the race of the victim determines if the death sentence will be enforced. Although the three previous reasons are great reasons we should abolish the death penalty, none are greater than an innocent person could be executed.

Since capital punishment was reinstated in 1977, over 120 people have been exonerated from the death row because they were found innocent of the crime they were once found guilty of committing. Therefore, how many mistakes have been made by the capital punishment system? Alexis Stodghill reports that Professor James Stodghill from Columbia University found in an execution study that 82% of death row inmates did not deserve the death penalty and one in twenty is later found not guilty.

Larry Griffin is one of twelve people who were executed for crimes they did not commit. In 1995 Griffin was executed for committing a murder and later Robert Fitzgerald admitted to committing the crime (Stodghill). Fitzgerald was the key witness in Griffins trail (Stodghill). The death penalty may have originally been put in place to show potential criminals the consequences of committing crime and to scare them from committing them but the reality is that is does more harm than good.

The death penalty costs the states millions, crime rates are much higher in states that have the death penalty, it is enforced primarily for the crimes against white people and worst of all innocent people have been and can be killed. The Anti-Death Penalty Organization posted “ I think this county would be much better off if we did not have capital punishment …. We cannot ignore the fact that in recent years a disturbing number of inmates on death row have been exonerated…” (qtd. by John Paul Stevens, U. S. Supreme Court Justice).

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