Death Penalty in the USA: Good or Bad essay
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There has been a lot of opposition in modern times. The questions raised have been whether death penalty can be accepted morally as a good punishment. There has been an argument stating that people are killed as a proof that killing others is unacceptable. Despite the simplicity of the slogan, a lot of mockery is seen in capital punishment as implied. The death penalty imposition is unbelievably rare. From 1967, only one execution has been effected for every 1600 murders. This translates to about 0.06% of the total murders. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report (UCR) & Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) from 1967-1996, there have been about 560,000 murders along with 358 executions. From 1973-96, about 5900 people have been given a death sentence and 358 executed. This recorded an increase trend of the people executed annually in that period.
The effect of incapacitation saves many lives. When murderers are executed, they cannot murder again. The innocent lives are thus saved. In a number of American states, there have been recorded drop in the murderers for fear of execution. In the period of between 1973 and 1997, the United States of America has only executed about 0.08% of the total number of murders. The deterrence test is not based entirely on whether the executions result in lower rates of murder, but also the possibility that there will be fewer murders in the absence of death penalty. For instance, Delaware State executes more individuals per capita (1:87,500) than any other state in America. Compared to Washington D.C, the rate of murder in Delaware is about 16 times less. All the same, deterrence cannot be proved through these statistics (The Death Penalty and Deterrence, 2008). It cannot be said that this is enough to conclude that death penalty causes a reduction in murders in Delaware as its absence increases murders in the Washington D.C. However, using a survey published in the New York Times in 2000, the period prior the implementation of death penalty in Delaware would be comparable to Washington D.C in terms of deterrence (Sharp, 1997). Thus, in 1980s, the rate of homicide in states like Delaware was found to be 48% to 101% higher than such states lacking death penalty like New York. Data collected from a number of states in 2008 indicated that the states making use of capital punishment had lower rates of homicide than the national rate (Greenhouse, 2008).
There however arguments that are made against death penalty as a crime deterrent. The belief in some people is that adjacent states where one is with a death penalty and another without have no long term discrepancies based on the volume of murders that take place in the specific state. There is an amazing statistics that states with death penalty have high levels of homicides than states without the death penalty system. Additionally, the states that have stopped using the death penalty system and later reinstituted it exhibit no big change in the rates of murder. Consequently, there has never been a significant change record in homicides rate in a particular state apparently occurring after a local execution. The objective of scaring murderers from killing due to death penalty based on statistics has insignificant effect (See Figure 3). The present perception amongst criminology professionals is that there is no conclusive proof that exists to ascertain that death as punishment has high efficiency in deterring violence when compared to life-long imprisonment.
Death Penalty Cost
Opponents of the death penalty present facts of the high cost involved in the process. A single case is estimated to cost about $ 2 million. Opponents have the opinion that it would be better to opt for life without parole which is available at a cost of only $1 million in a period of 50 years. Other recent estimates in 2003 by the legislative audit found out that a death penalty case would cost 70% more when compared with case which does not involve death penalty. According to the Kansas audit report in December 2003, the cost of a death penalty case was counted having a medium cost of about $1.26 million through to execution. Generally, the death penalty cases on average cost more than cases like life imprisonment. Such cases where prosecutors look for life imprisonment are relatively lower in cost than death penalty ones. Tennessee has a proof of records which support this argument according to the Death Penalty Cost.
Other examples in Maryland indicate the cost of death penalty cases being about three times exceeding the cost for non-death penalty trials. According to Death Penalty Cost (2008), the cost of the present systems costs almost 12 times more than a system lacking the death penalty per year. Reports indicate that the costs linked with the death penalty takes place before and in the process of the trial. They are not incurred in the proceedings after conviction. Therefore, even if there were no proceedings after the conviction, death penalty would still be costly compared to other sentences. In such trials where the prosecutor is looking for death sentence, there are usually two distinct and separate phases: conviction and sentencing (Death Penalty Cost, 2008). Special discussions and added time for the selection of jury basically come first before such trials. Capital cases generally lead to more costs of investigation and specifically through the persecution.
The moment trials of death penalty lead to a ruling less than death, the federal government pays extra costs of capital pre-trial and during the proceedings and should then also make payments for either incarcerating cost or the re-trial costs which in most cases amounts to death sentence. The death penalty thus directs resources from control measures of crime that are genuine. Money spend on a system of death penalty is believed to: reduce resources present for prevention of crime, treatment of mental illness, rehabilitation and education, services to victims and programs of drug treatment. Again,
Human Rights Safety
The question of whether it is of great concern that individuals could be convicted wrongly has always emerged in death penalty cases. The human rights of all people must not be gambled with. All the same, researchers state that the fact that there have been some people convicted wrongly does not flaw the process. Others however are of the opinion that the question of whether such cases of people wrongly convicted occur frequently and that are of statistical significant does not count. Guilt that has not been questioned does not carry with it the risk of wrong execution (Sharp, 1997). There is usually no doubt held in a person’s guilt. The evidence could be very much obvious with a plain testing of DNA, the murder’s guilty plea and witnesses. These occasions do not present any risk of the innocent being executed. All the same, wrongful convictions could be realized. Therefore, there can never be a general approach in dealing with death penalty cases to ensure there is no wrongful conviction. Thus, these analyses should be narrowed to each individual case.
Since 1992, DNA evidence in the United States of Africa made it possible for the exoneration and release of inmates in death row. The DNA evidence was available for about 15 of them. However, the DNA evidence is only available in a fraction of the capital trials. Another group has been exonerated based on weak cases filed against them (Dow and Dow, 2002). These cases have at times involved misconduct during prosecution as a result of acquittal during re-trial. The United States through the Information Center on Death penalty recently released a report of 8 inmates who are thought to have been innocent but were however executed. Almost 39 executions have been carried out in the United States despite evidence on innocence being provided. These are recorded as executions which were performed without enough guilty evidence. One of the commonly known cases is a Florida case involving Jesse Tafero.
Tafero was convicted together with Sonia Jacobs for killing police officers back in 1976 as they flew charges of drugs. A partial testimony of a third individual known as Rhodes led to their execution. After Sonia’s death sentence in 1981, Rhodes changed the stand on the testimony a year later and fully took responsibility. All the same, Tafero was executed in 1990. Seemingly, there was no enough evidence to conduct the execution. The safety of human rights following these executions was thus threatened. The constitution of America provides rights to all its citizens. Even a convict has a right to be heard in a court of law and been dealt with in a just way. Therefore, the death penalty seems to deny people their rights at times. Johnny Frank Garret from Texas execution came from an alleged rape and murder case involving a nun as the victim. Testimony and evidence initially made a suggestion that an individual Cuban was the main suspect before Johnny.
The above are just but a few examples of how death penalty could interfere with the rights of humans. As earlier said however, these examples can not be used to nullify the whole process. Recent cases involve Cameron Willingham from Texas in 2004 on a case of arson back in 1991 which led to the loss of three girls. Ultimately, there was doubt in the forensic evidence which followed the conviction. This is more specifically in establishing whether the evidence was of an accelerant used to ignite the blaze. Despite all these examples, there is a belief that mistaken convictions cannot translate into wrongful executions. There have been myths concerning death penalty although they have continued to be deflated based on closer examination. All the same, there is a likelihood of fixing wrongful convictions through good prosecutors. The media fraternity in America was biased against capital punishment with sensational stories emanating from Chicago concerning wrongful prosecution. About 50% of the stories did not re-state that the “innocence” was at times technical. Therefore, reconsiderations need to be made where there is no enough proof. This ideally should be in the effort of addressing the safety on human rights.
The execution threat is unlikely to influence the minds of the people acting under alcohol and/or drugs, the people who are on the verge of rage or fear, the fearful in crime like robbery. This may also include people suffering from mental illness or some kind of retardation of the mind and may not ideally make out the intensity of the crime. Thus, there is much communication needed that highlights the level of death penalty impact compared to long-life imprisonment. While many Americans have stood in support of the system, only a small group would choose it given the option of long-life imprisonment. The cost of the death penalty is relatively high compared to other punitive measures. The safety of human rights is also endangered at some point although can be rectified with good prosecutors. It appears that life-long imprisonment is a better alternative to death penalty system which seemingly is bad.