Studies show that the death penalty is an in-effective deterrent of crime and is an economic burden to tax-payers, counties, and states. The main issues of this essay are whether or not the death penalty is in fact, a deterrent of crime, and if the burden of the cost associated with the death penalty is worth the retribution. As Mahatma Ghandi said, “An eye for an eye leaves us all blind. ” Capital punishment is the sentencing of convicted criminals to death. It is a highly controversial and debatable topic. This is an issue that keeps many people, mainly politicians, tossing and turning at night.
Is it moral? Is it a deterrent of crime? Is it worth the money we spend on death penalty cases? There are an abundance of studies, articles, arguments, and opinions both for and against the death penalty. This essay will look at the arguments, and show that the death penalty is not a highly effective deterrent of crime, and it will also show that it is not economically Justified. The death penalty dates back thousands of years, but it in the United States it has become a topic that is very controversial. There have been many legal challenges in the past fifty years, challenging the morality of the executions.
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In 1967 a moratorium was placed on the death penalty after the Supreme Court’s finding that it was arbitrary and capricious and that it violated the 8th Amendment. (Capital Punishment, 2013). It wasn’t a ruling that the death penalty itself was unconstitutional, but that the laws as written were “cruel and unusual punishment. ” States wrote new laws, and in 1977 executions resumed. The first execution after the moratorium was in Utah, death by firing squad. Deterrence, in the mindset of death penalty supporters, is the belief that criminals or would be criminals fear death more than anything else.
Judge Robert E. Crowe stated “It is the finality of the death penalty which instills fear into the heart of every murderer, and it is the fear of punishment which protects society. ” (Crowe, 1925, para3). A survey of leading criminologists by Radelet & Lacock (2009), showed that an astounding 88% did not agree that the death penalty is a deterrent of crime. They believe that an abolishment on the death penalty would not result in any significant rise in crime rates. The majority of law enforcement surveyed believes capital punishment does not deter violent crime. (Ralelet & Lacock, 2009).
Another survey of police chiefs states that they rank the death penalty lowest on ways to deter crime. They believe that an increase in law enforcement and lowering drug abuse are the best ways to reduce violence. Although there are many studies stating that the death penalty is a deterrent of crime, The National Research Council (2012) concluded that the studies on the effect of murder rates and the death penalty were seriously flawed. They showed that the studies didn’t consider the effects of non capital punishments, and used “incomplete or implausible models.
They found three fundamental flaws: 1) The studies did not factor in the effects of non-capital punishments that may be imposed. 2) The studies used imcomplete or implausible models of potential murderers’ perceptions of and responses to the use of capital punishment. 3) Estimates of the effect of capital punishment are based on statistical models that make assumptions that are not credible. (The National Research Council, 2012). of criminals. He believes that murderers don’t think of the death penalty as a reason not to kill. People who are contemplating murder do not sit down and weigh the consequences.
He believes it is an erratic and flawed process which should be discontinued. The decision on whether a defendant gets the death penalty is dependent on too many variables: The discretion of the prosecutor, the competence of the defense attorneys, the makeup of the Jury, and the attitude of the Judge and appeals court. Further research shows that most murders are committed in the heat of passion, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or because ofa mental illness. During the act of committing murder, criminals do not expect to be caught and there is little thought being given to the consequences of the action.
Even when a murder is premeditated, the criminal focuses more on escaping arrest, detection, or conviction. (saroktn, 2011). The ACLU’s position on the death penalty (2012) is that it violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantees of due process. They believe that states should not give themselves the right to kill, especially with premeditation and celebration. They believe it is unfair because it is dependant of the competency of the attorneys, how much money the defendant has, the race of the victim, and where the crime takes place. (ACLU 2012)
Capital punishment in the United States is unusual because it is the only western industrialized nation that engages in the practice. It is also unusual because only a small percentage of convicted killers are sentenced to death. The homicide rate in the United States is five times higher than any western European county. This is shocking due to the fact that the United States is the only county with the death penalty. Currently there are eighteen states without the death penalty. In President Jimmy Carter’s article “Show Death Penalty the Door” (2012), he provides statistics on tates with the death penalty vs. tates without the death penalty. The rates of homicides are higher in states with the death penalty. Take North and South Dakota for example: Both of these states are very similar in population, culture, and region. North Dakota does not have the death penalty and South Dakota does. There are more capital crimes in South Dakota. According to the Department of Justice (FBI Uniform Crime Report, 2012), the national murder rate was about the same in 2011 as in 2012. The Northeast region of the United States, the region with the fewest executions, had the lowest murder ate of any other region.
The murder rate in the northeast also decreases 3. 4%. The southern region, the region with the highest execution rate, again had the highest murder rates. Six of the nine states with the lowest murder rate are states without the death penalty. Justice Bryon White, (Furman v. Georgia), noted that when only a tiny portion of individuals who commit murder are executed, the death penalty is unconstitutionally irrational. The lessons of Furman haunt present day realities in most states because it is used so rarely as to defy the logic of deterrence. 972) When weighing the all the deterring facts, the death penalty does not make sense for our country. While looking at the economic factors and costs of the death penalty, the ends do not Justify The cost of the death penalty is far more expensive than the cost of life in prison. Former District Attorney, Sterling Goodspeed, stated miou can house criminals in the Waldorf Hotel for sixty to seventy years and feed them three meals a day cheaper than we can litigate a single death penalty case. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research show that the burden put n tax payers due to capital murder charges is a huge burden to counties. These trials cost so much that cuts in the budget have to be made elsewhere. States and counties could save millions by eliminating these trials. (Baicker, 2012). Statistics show that the cost is so much higher for a variety of reasons. These expensive trials need special defense teams specializing in death penalty cases. The cost of security, specialty witnesses and DNA testing are Just some of the huge expenses these trials incur.
Many of the countrys leading law enforcement personnel, criminologists, Judges nd others believe that the resources that are put into these extremely expensive trials should be redirected elsewhere. The money could be spent on improving the community and prevention programs. (Kondavic, 2012). Research shows that people who attend Early Childhood programs are less likely to commit crimes. High school programs that help at-risk youth reach graduation also helps to reduce crime. These programs could benefit from the additional resources that capital murder cases soak up. (Equal Justice USA,2013).
Gang prevention programs and mental health services will also help reduce riminal activity. Providing these services to Juveniles reduces their probability of being arrested. It has been said that if the perpetrators in the many recent school shootings would have been offered these services, a lot of trauma and bloodshed could have been avoided. Treatment has successfully reduced crime, incarceration, and recidivism. Most law enforcement officials agree that funds to help the victims and their families are needed. These funds could pay for grief counseling, scholarships, medical expenses, and emergency funds.
Since the use of DNA testing more than ne-hundred thirty people have been exonerated from death row. Now the courts are being flooded with expensive appeals and DNA testing. Not only would doing away with the death penalty relieve the court systems and save money, but it will assure that no innocent man or woman ever be wrongly executed. (Associated Press, 2009) Research and evidence show that putting a moratorium on the death penalty for good would be better for tax-payers and all of this countrys communities. It would also assure that no innocent person will ever be condemned to death.
The deterrent actor and the economic factor are proof enough, but there is always the moral factor. In 1972 Supreme Court Justice, Marshall Thurgood gave his opinion in the case Fruman v. Georgia. He stated that “Capital punishment violates the Eighth Amendment because it is morally unacceptable. In Judging if it is morally acceptable, most courts say it’s valid unless it “shocks” the conscience and sense of Justice of the people assuming knowledge of all the facts presently available regarding capital conscience and sense of Justice. For this reason alone, capital punishment cannot stand. ” (1972).