Posted: November 28th, 2013
Capital Punishment is wrong
Capital punishment also known as death sentence is the executing of an inmate or offender after he or she is convicted by a court of law. The crimes punishable by death are murders and homicides. I believe that death penalty is cruel and brutal. It denies people a right to equal protection for all according to the law. In addition, it violates the sanctity of life, where if no one is right in killing another person, why should the state do the same. Therefore, the state should not have a right to kill its citizens using death penalty. Capital punishment is not right at all considering the issues and concerns it raises among people such possibility of killing an innocent person, unfairness in the trials where it is dependent of wealth of the offender and race and high costs in the case (American Civil Liberties Union, 2011). The ultimate concern in capital punishment does not revolve around whether the offenders deserve to die; rather, it revolves on whether the government has the right t take life of the imprisoned offenders.
Considering that most of those sentenced to death penalty are murderers, killing them is the same as trying to show people that killers can be taught that killing is wrong through killing them. Two wrongs make no right. More so, the way it is done is no different from the way the offenders committed their crime. White describes capital punishment as, “premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice,”(2012), which is a violation of equal rights to life for everybody, and it is a very cruel and merciless punishment a human being can ever receive (White, 2012).
Capital punishment cases are very expensive and require a lot of money to conduct investigations meant to ascertain the guilt of the offender. Punishment of criminals is supposed to deter crime for potential criminals. However, many people and statistics have proven that death penalty does not deter crime, and the cases are quite expensive, taking long before they are solved, sometimes taking several years. The FBI has asserted that states with death penalties record higher rates of violent crimes than states without the sentence (American Civil Liberties Union, 2011). More so, the FBI asserts that increasing the police force, fighting drug abuse and creating economic status with better job opportunities helps in deterring crime better than capital punishment (American Civil Liberties Union, 2011). Therefore, what is it good to kill offenders if it does not help in deterring violent crime?
In a death penalty case, some of the costs involved are costs of prosecution, paying the defense attorneys, expert witnesses, reporters of the court, psychiatrists, secretaries, and consultants to the jury and interpreters (American Civil Liberties Union, 2011). In addition, the cases of death penalty take a long time before they are solved, and take about three phases before they are solved. The first phase is the state trial court that has two hearing, the first to ascertain guiltiness, and the second to issue a sentence. The next phase is the state habeas court where some appeals take place and ‘post conviction’ processes. The third phase is the federal habeas court where appeals to the circuit court are made, and the United States Supreme Court. The process takes long and at every stage, huge costs are involved (White, 2012). In addition, the cost of holding a death penalty offender is quite expensive than ordinary inmates since they have to be offered more security. In Maryland, it is proven that the cost for five executions was $186 million, while in California it amounts to $90,000 per year for one execution, cost including incarceration, investigations and court proceedings (American Civil Liberties Union, 2011). All this money is contributed by the taxpayer, who in most cases is overburdened with other bills.
Risk of executing an innocent person is yet another fact that makes it wrong to have death penalty considering the investigations can not be 100% right all the time. It cannot be fully proven that all those sentenced to capital punishment are guilty as charged. Considering that death penalty cases take long before a final decision is made, evidence may be lost with time, and important witnesses may be lost before a final decision is made. From statistics, it has been found that since 1973, there have been 138 people released from death sentence from 26 states because they were innocent (American Civil Liberties Union, 2011). Most of these people were not exonerated from normal appeals in courts; rather, it was through evidence outside the court. Most of the evidence were made possible by scientific methods of investigation, a devotion of journalist and expert attorneys, that a death raw inmate never gets or can afford during trials (White 2012). This could mean that those executed before without receiving such services might have been innocent.
Further, the risk of executing innocent people is increased by the need to have faster processes meant to reduce the time taken as well as costs. This may hinder proper investigations of the innocence of a person. More so, there are an increasing number of inmates on death row found innocent after conviction has already taken place. In Illinois, four men were had all their charges dropped after they two had been sentenced for death after they had been found guilty. Later, after two journalism students were assigned the case for investigation, new evidence that they were the wrong men was found. This means that the investigations during the case trials were not sufficient to make a conviction of their guilt (Linehan, n.d).
In elaborate terms, the criminal system was not effective in looking for more evidence. With such a criminal system, the rate of executing innocent people in heightened. With a death sentence, once a person is executed, it is not reversible despite new evidence coming to the open after they are executed (Linehan, n.d). It then goes to ask whether it is worth risking death of innocent people in the name of administering justice, while there is a high probability of making errors in the case proceedings. Currently, the rate of innocent people released form death row is increasing where statistics of 1973 to 1993 show that the average rate of release for those convicted to death was 2.5%, where there were 21 inmates released. In a recent statistic, there have been 17 releases of inmates on death raw in a span of three years, which makes it 4.8%. This increase is enough to illustrate the level of errors in the judicial proceedings (Linehan, n.d).
Another reason making death penalty wrong is a fact that trials are not fair enough, and encourage unfairness especially if one is poor. In the United States, the capital punishment is not administered fairly, where people with money tend to be favored by the law (Lynch and Haney 338). In addition, the sentence is also dependent on the expertise of the lawyers one has. For the rich, they are able to hire highly experienced attorneys with more influence in courts while the poor rely on those provided by the state (Lynch and Haney 339). I addition, the case is also dependent on the victim of murder, place of crime as well as the race. It has been proved that colored people have higher chances of being executed than white people, and worse still if their victim is white (Lynch and Haney 340).
This fact is evidenced by the number of people executed in the recent past. At the current number of people awaiting execution in federal incarceration, almost 50% are African Americans, while in the general population they only make up 13%. Among the three most current executions, two of them were African American, while the next six scheduled for execution are all African Americans (Linehan, n.d). Between 2001 -2006, all federal cases where death penalty was sought were made up of 48% of African Americans. A few years a go there has been 156 cases of death raw inmates appealing when it was made clear that they can appeal based on racial discrimination. This serves to illustrate that the minority are discriminated in courts. In statistics of around 1930 to 1967, among those executed for rape, 90% were African Americans in the south (Lynch and Haney 356). The blacks’ fate was even worse when it was a white woman raped. With this history of more African Americans being executed, even today the minority races especially the African Americans are discriminated in the judicial systems with majority facing stiffer punishments even for smaller crimes (Lynch and Haney 356).
On the other hand, the proponents of death penalty have their reasons, which to them are very credible. Proponents of death penalty refute the fact that death penalty is far more expensive than life imprisonment. They suggest that life imprisonment is far more expensive than death penalty, and executing will reduce costs (White 2012). On to the contrary, despite life imprisonment taking up more resources, looking at it in terms of annual costs, death penalty is far more expensive than holding an inmate for life. More so, with death sentence, execution cannot be reversed in case an era was committed where an innocent person is executed. Therefore, considering the lack of efficiency with judicial system on cases seeking death penalty, it is not right since it risks killing of innocent people (Linehan, n.d). Instead of risking the death of innocent people and leaving the guilty at large, it would be worth to imprison them for life, where in case of errors found later as seen in some cases, they can still be alive.
In addition, the proponents of death penalty feel that this is a good way of stopping others from committing such crimes in the future. The truth is that death penalty is not effective in deterring crime considering that states that practice death penalty still rank higher in violent crimes than states without death sentence (American Civil Liberties Union, 2011). On moral basis, proponents of death penalty argue that since their acts are so evil and immoral, there is no problem with the society taking the life of such people. However, taking another person’s life through the state makes no difference; we only commit the same heinous acts that these offenders commit (American Civil Liberties Union, 2011).
In conclusion, it is evident there are more disadvantages of death penalty than there are benefits. The worst of all of them is executing an innocent person, which only means the real offender is left loose. In addition, looking at it in terms of costs, it is better to have life imprisonment than death penalty, which are more complex. In addition, the judicial system is not well streamlined to eliminate all eras considering those that were exonerated for death row had already been through conviction. Evidence came for independent bodies that undertook investigation on their cases. Many concerns have resulted form death penalty, which only make it ineffective in punishing crime, and only serves as a cruel punishment that degrades the value of a human being. This only suggests it is logic that death penalty is not right and should be abolished.
American Civil Liberties Union. The Case against the Death Penalty. aclu.org, 2011. Web. February 27, 2012.
Linehan, Elizabeth. Executing the innocent. bu.edu, n.d. Web. February 27, 2012.
Lynch, Mona and Haney, Craig. Discrimination and Instructional Comprehension: Guided Discretion, Racial Bias, and the Death Penalty. Law and Human Behavior, 24, 3: 337-358. Print.
White, Deborah. Pros & Cons of the Death Penalty. about.com, 2012. Web. February 27, 2012.
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