Capital Punishment and the Death Penalty
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Capital Punishment and the Death Penalty The old saying goes, “an eye for an eye,” and as for me, I agree. How many people feel it’s the right thing to do to murder those who have murdered? Many families have lost loved ones due to violent crimes and murders criminals have committed.
SUMMARY OF FACTORS WHICH SUPPORT A MORATORIUM ON EXECUTIONS WHILE SEEKING ALTERNATIVES ACCEPTABLE TO THE PUBLIC COST OF THE DEATH PENALTY
– Various state governments estimate that a single death penalty case, from the point of arrest to execution, ranges from $1 million to $3 million, and could be as high as $7 million per case. However, cases resulting in life imprisonment average approximately $500,000, including the cost of incarceration.
DETERRENCE – Comprehensive studies and the vast preponderance of evidence show that capital punishment does not deter crime and that the death penalty is no more effective than life imprisonment in deterring murder.
FAIRNESS AND CONSISTENCY – In murder cases, there is substantial evidence to indicate that the courts have been arbitrary, contradictory, and unfair in the way in which some people have been sentenced to prison and others to death, which has led the American Bar Association, and 287 organizations, calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.
INNOCENCE AND THE INEVITABILITY OF ERROR
– Although sources indicate that 23 innocent people have been executed, these have not been well documented. What is well documented is that since 1970, 76 people have been released from death row because of clear evidence of their innocence.
VIOLENCE AND THE BARBARITY OF THE EXECUTION
– In this country, two states permit the use of a firing squad, hanging is an option in four states, and in one state there is proposed legislation to replace the state’s electric chair with the guillotine. Regarding lethal injection, it was observed by the U.S. Court of Appeals that there is substantial and uncontroverted evidence that death by lethal injection poses a serious risk of cruel, protracted death.
– Although we rightly anguish over the brutality to the victims, and the lasting effect on the families of the victims, and making the punishment fit the crime; it seems clear that this principle can still be satisfied through alternatives, such as life imprisonment without any possibility of parole.
EFFECT ON VICTIMS’ FAMILIES AND CLOSURE
– Although true closure is never really possible for the families, studies have shown that the continual process of appeals necessary to insure due process, along with the returning to court for many years, force families to confront the gruesome details of the crime many times over, making it impossible to get on with their lives as difficult as that is. The question is whether the victims’ needs are met effectively by killing someone else and causing another family grief and pain as well as adding to the cycle of violence.
COUNTRIES THAT IMPOSE THE DEATH PENALTY
– The United States now joins such countries as Iraq, China, and Iran in imposing the death penalty, and is one of only six count ries in the world, such as Yeman and Iran, that executes juvenile offenders. The UN Commission on Human Rights voted overwhelmingly to urge member countries to move toward abolition of it.
PUBLIC OPINION AND POLLING DATA – According to USA TODAY (2/23/99), this month’s Gallup Poll shows support for the death penalty at 71%, a 13 year low, however, in addition according to Gallup, an all time high of 38% of Americans now favor life without parole as a substitute for the death penalty. Similar polls show the latter figure as high as 49%.
ELECTIONS AND THE DEATH PENALTY – There is a perception that voting for the death penalty is a sure way not to be re-elected. The evidence is to the contrary. In the last two elections in Massachusetts, no incumbents who opposed the death penalty were defeated by incumbents who supported the death penalty.
MENTORING – Throughout the federal and state correctional institutions, individuals, including inmates removed from death row to the general population, are serving effectively as mentors to other inmates, particularly when the individual has had some form of spiritual regeneration. This positive use of inmates, allowed to live by a life imprisonment sentence, has been praised by corrections officials for helping younger men and women to rehabilitate themselves, particularly if educational, drug treatment, moral and spiritual programs are offered at the institution.
MORAL AND BIBLICAL
– In terms of the authority of the Bible, proponents of capital punishment can take certain verses or words from the Bible, particularly from the Old Testament, to support their position. Similarly, opponents of the death penalty can take certain verses or words from the Bible, particularly from the New Testament, to support their position. In my own research and study of the biblical interpretation of the death penalty, I believe that the matter stands on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Through the actions, words, and very person of Jesus, each of
us is given the possibility of knowing the truth concerning the value of life.
CONSISTENT ETHIC OF LIFE – All life – every life is like a “seamless garment.” James Megivern is his book The Death Penalty sums it up best. “Life is the issue, and deliberately destroying human life, all human life, any human life is wrong period. Punishment, Yes, Death, No…Every person has universal, inviolable, inalienable rights. Basic to all is the Right to Life. CONCLUSION – After reviewing all the above factors, it seems clear that death as a penalty fails every conceivable test of rational public policy. Even if one disagrees with one or more of these factors, the overwhelming evidence is that it is lacking in credibility as a rational response. Therefore, we recommend a moratorium on executions in the 38 states, and the federal government, until rational alternatives are found that are acceptable to the public. One alternative, which is gaining considerable public acceptance, is to impose life imprisonment without any possibility of parole. This alternative will not permit the individual to walk the streets again; however they will be given the time for regeneration of their minds and spirits in order to help other inmates, and to give them hope that their lives can be beneficial to others. Many people would argue that the death penalty is the best deterrent to extremely serious crimes – crimes that could or probably will harm the well-being of people in society or society itself as a whole. These crimes such as treasonous actions or genocide/infanticide are arguably the worst types of crimes a person could commit, but do we as a nation or people have the right to take someone’s life, even under these circumstances?
Perhaps death is not the best deterrent because many people do not view death with the fear and anxiety that our culture attaches to it. Many Cultures view death as a release or rebirth, or a growing of the soul. But perpetual slavery, to rot in prison with no chance of parole, until death or just near it, would make anyone fearful and deter a larger amount of people than the punishment of death. This is because the punishment of death is really like handing someone a mystery punishment, because we do not actually know what death is – only that it means that person is no longer with us. But we could achieve the same effect by putting the criminal prison for the rest of his or her life (assuming this is with no chance of parole), and I think we could be very confident that any criminal would suffer greatly from this. In my opinion the punishment of death truthfully represents ‘an eye for an eye’ mentality, a lower state of morality and understanding of how to really express ethical behaviour. In a sense, when we set the death as the highest form of punishment in our state we are merely expressing our cultural attitude towards death. On one hand we could say that we are preventing more harm to come to society, but really we could achieve the same effect with life-long confinement.
The primary reason for the death penalty is actually so the victims loved ones and people affected by the crime can attain some emotional ‘closure’ or solidarity. But on the extreme end one could say it is type a spectacle for society(1), a method which is actually a physical euphemism when compared to the times when humans regularly participated in public hangings. When we express to this ‘eye for an eye’ behaviour, the people who support this idea are lowering themselves down towards the moral level of the criminal. If a person can resist the negative, vengeful mindset that would start in most human beings if something terrible was done to them by another person, I think it puts them on a higher moral and perhaps spiritual level. If, for example, a member of someone’s family is brutally murdered, I think many people would immediately take revenge if given the opportunity, if there was no chance of being caught etc.) But it takes a special type of person to rise above these emotions and instead, not forgive the perpetrator of the crime, but accept what happens as happened and realize killing the criminal will only reflect on you yourself in that moment and forever into the future.
The same goes with the state, except it reflects negatively on the nation as a whole if is it to give in to this vengeful behaviour. What if a nation were to say that it’s highest form of punishment would be an extremely hard life from that point on of basically ‘slavery’; or to simply do hard physical labor for society and do whatever little good they can until they grow old and die. I don’t think many people can argue that this achieves the same ‘physical’ effect that killing the criminal does, and avoids the emotional reasoning and controversy which comes hand in hand with the death penalty. There are many who look upon death with a degree of confidence, or even fanaticism (2). I think there are far less people who can look upon lifelong imprisonment with the same attitude. The death penalty can bring about a sense of ‘martyrdom’ in some people. For example in rare but true cases where a potential sociopath i.e.
a religious zealot who will murder ‘in the name of god’ or Satan and will take advantage of the death penalty. When a sociopathic criminal sees their crimes as a duty to a higher authority, combined with a belief that death is a type of ‘release’ back to their deity, we can see how a punishment like the death penalty is rather impractical and ineffective, since the criminal may just be getting what they want.
It is true that life in prison changes people, so it is quite possible at some point the criminal will learn why they should not have committed the crimes that they did, by talking and with other inmates combined with an incredibly long amount of inward reflection If imprisonment was more severe. Kant Argues that justice and equality can only be achieved in one basically ‘gets what they deserve’ (3). “The equalization of crime and punishment is only possible by judicial sentence extending even to the possibility of death, according to the right of retaliation” (4). In my view this is perfectly analogous to the ‘eye for an eye’ attitude that we even teach to our children is not the right course of action. The death of the criminal doesn’t serve any visible, measurable justice or decrease in crime rate, and in fact prevents the criminal from ever realizing the true nature of his crimes or ever doing anything good for society ever again. The emotional ‘closure’ the victims get after an event like this is brief and far from actual acceptance of their new life without their loved ones or with whatever the criminal has done. What good then really comes out of the death penalty? My answer would be none.
No- because justice can be bought and the innocent could be put into death If people are more responsible and have discipline, death penalty is no longer needed. But for situation of our country, I think the justice system needs to be improve first, since some innocent are jailed for lack of evidence, and most criminals have ties with the government. if death penalty is restored in this time. most criminals will have the government’s back (most of the officials have ties to the government), and the innocent will get the death penalty. the death penalty is not a deterrent against crime; the deterrent would be the police force actually capturing the guilty parties and the law serving justice. data shows that there was no significant decrease in crime when we had it. violent crimes have not gone away, it just depends on who was killed and how much screen time the crime
gets that gets people riled up.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in its Apr. 9, 2007 website presentation titled “The Death Penalty: Questions and Answers,” offered the following:
“[T]here is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than long terms of imprisonment. States that have death penalty laws do not have lower crime rates or murder rates than states without such laws. And states that have abolished capital punishment show no significant changes in either crime or murder rates.
The death penalty has no deterrent effect. Claims that each execution deters a certain number of murders have been thoroughly discredited by social science research. People commit murders largely in the heat of passion, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or because they are mentally ill, giving little or no thought to the possible consequences of their acts. The few murderers who plan their crimes beforehand — for example, professional executioners — intend and expect to avoid punishment altogether by not getting caught. Some self-destructive individuals may even hope they will be caught and executed.” Killing people to show that killing is wrong, hmmm isn’t that a little hypocritical?
If you want to punish a man for murder, then let them live in guilt in the confines of a prison. It is more painful to remember the day you killed a person a cold blood than to just let people end your life quickly. You might even be doing the murderer a favor by killing him, as to end his psychological torment. Some alone time to think can do much of a difference to prisoners be it 20 years to life.
You can never really eliminate crime 100% Especially with a police force that is ineffective and outdated. In my opinion the Philippine National Police is relatively weak and underfunded due to corrupt officials and couple that with low budgeting you got yourself a weak police force. My suggestion pay your taxes and choose wisely who to elect as government officials & Keep kids in school and off drugs too give them a better chance for a future as law abiding citizens.
And by the way making the death penalty a deterrent won’t do much good anyway, studies show that murder in the states where the death penalty is imposed is significantly higher than those without the death penalty. No, death penalty doesnt really prevent crime does it. It doesnt help anyone. The criminal is not reformed. Besides the argument that this will scare criminals isn’t true at all, criminals are aware of the risk when they consciously commit crimes. The Philippine situation is desperate and this leads people to do desperate things. Rather than sit there and wait for hunger and poverty to kill them, they commit crimes as a way out or die trying. If we put them in life sentences, the we might be able to save them or if that fails we lock them up in solitary confinement as long as possible. The united states for its death penalty has killed innocent people accidentally, and that is blood on the governments hands. The Philippines shouldnt have more innocent blood on its hands than it already has.
The Philippine people dont even trust the government that much. Yet they are willing to trust their decision concerning human lives. Besides for the eye for an eye people out there, psychological torture of confinement is worse than the release of death. Look at the number of prison suicides worldwide. oh yeah, remember that Filipino maid who got executed a few years ago for murder in singapore? Look at the number of filipino posters using the look at singapore arguement. Irony. (Updated 6:03 p.m.) President Benigno Aquino III is not keen on reimposing capital punishment, noting that the country’s imperfect justice system may lead to the conviction of the wrong person. At a press conference at the Liberal Party’s 65th anniversary, Aquino said he will study emerging calls to reimpose the death penalty, “but the essence here is our judicial system is not perfect.” “There is a possibility that people can be wrongly convicted especially if they do not have the ability to secure competent counsel,” Aquino said. “Pag ipapasa natin ang death penalty, how do you turn back the clock if an innocent person is executed?” he added. In an earlier interview on Unang Balita, Volunteer against Crime and Corruption (VACC) founding chairman Dante Jimenez said it is high time to revive capital punishment because of the resurgence of heinous crimes.
“Noong tinanggal ng administrasyong Gloria Arroyo ang parusang kamatayan noong 2006, kinatatakutan na namin ang paglala ng karumaldumal na mga krimen. Ngayon, bumalik na ang ganoong sitwasyon na dahilan upang ipatupad ang parusang kamatayan noong 1995,” Jimenez said (When death penalty was lifted in 2006, we already feared that heinous crimes would surge anew. Now, the situation that warranted the imposition of death penalty in 1995 is back.) This page requires a higher version browser On the other hand, Aquino admitted he supported death penalty in the past, but said he had already changed his position. “I have to change my position since we cannot turn back the clock if we execute somebody who is not guilty.” “Kung perfect… yung ating judicial system, perhaps there is room for that [death penalty]. But if your economic status hinders you from hiring competent lawyers to help you, then there is a possibility that you will be wrongly convicted,” Aquino said. Calls for the re-imposition of the death penalty grew after the discovery of three charred remains, one of them belonging to the son of Marcos lawyer Oliver Lozano, in Central Luzon last week. The three, two of them car dealers, were believed to be victims of a car theft syndicate since they were last seen accompanying prospective buyers for a test drive. ‘Knee jerk reaction’
Opposition lawmakers at the House of Representatives, on the other hand, said the “escalating criminality” in the country should not be used as “alibi” to reimpose death penalty. House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said that bringing back capital punishment in the Philippines would only be a “knee jerk” reaction to the recent spate of criminal incidents. “It took us two decades to abolish death penalty. These incidents should not turn the clock and reinstate death penalty in the country,” Lagman said at a press briefing on Wednesday. He added that the Aquino administration should instead improve police enforcement and the imposition of existing laws to deter these crimes. “I think this should be catching the criminals, prosecuting the criminals, and convicting the criminals,” he said. Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, for her part, said Aquino should set an example of strict enforcement of the law that police officers can follow. “If the President shows that he is a hands-on person, somehow, it would deter these criminals from doing these crimes out in the open,” she said. Senate Bill 2383
At the Senate, there is a pending bill filed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri calling for the re-imposition of the death penalty. Zubiri filed Senate Bill 2383 in August last year following the killing of eight tourists from Hong Kong by dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza. On Wednesday, Senator Ramon Bong Revilla said that he was in favor of restoring the death penalty because of the recent spate of killings in the country. “Criminals are becoming bolder. Hindi ko sukat maisip na may gagawa ng ganito (I never imagined that they were capable of doing this),” Revilla said. In 2006, Revilla voted for the abolition of the death penalty. However, he said that times have changed and that the law must “cope” with these changes. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, for his part, said that he was “open” to the proposal. “If there’s a proposal to that effect, I am open, but we have to do it. If we are going to apply the law, apply it so that the society will feel it,” Enrile said. But Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Francis Escudero, and Ralph Recto were not in favor of the idea, saying that what the country needs is better law enforcement. “It is certainty of punishment and not the kind of punishment that will deter crimes,” Escudero told GMANews.
TV in a text message on Wednesday. “We do not support this. It is the certainty, not the severity, of punishment that brings fear in the hearts of would-be criminals. No matter how severe the penalty imposed, if convictions are few and far between, or cases drag on for years on end without punishment, then criminality will remain rampant,” said Pangilinan in a separate text message. Recto likewise said that there is a need to increase the number of equipped policemen on the streets. The Death Penalty Law or Republic Act No. 7659 was passed in 1992 but was abolished in 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo right before she flew to Vatican City to have an audience with the Pope. Under RA 7659, heinous crimes are defined as being “grievous, odious and hateful offenses and which, by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society.” — with reports from Andreo Calonzo and Kimberly Jane Tan/LBG/KBK/RSJ, GMANews.TV MANILA, Philippines – Senators and congressmen seem to be on a collision course on the matter of the revival of the death penalty. A day after senators expressed support for its revival, congressmen thumbed down calls to revive it—just like President Aquino’s stand’s own stand against the death penalty.
Munintlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano told the Serye media forum Thursday that the revival of the death penalty will not deter crime. Biazon said deterring crime is not a penalty issue but a law enforcement issue. “Ayaw na nga natin ng death penalty. Paulit ulit na tayo diyan. Nagkaroon na tayo niya, wala naman nangyari. May binitay, kumonti ba krimen? To me, it is the enforcement of laws by proper agencies. Ngayon may duda tayo sa institusyon eh at pagpapatupad ng proseso. Meron na tayo nuon eh. Nun bang pinairal natin death penalty nawala ba krimen? Hindi eh. Tingin ko para ma-address ng husto the issue of crimes we have to strengthen judicial processes and implementation of laws in this country,” he said. Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III also rejected the proposal to reimpose the death penalty. “What the nation needs is the political will of national leaders, [Philippine National Police], Armed Forces, judiciary to implement the laws created and to be vigilant up to the grassroots to do their respective mandates to create an atmosphere of safety for our citizens and show that if you commit a crime , you will definitely pay,” Magsaysay said. Colmenares said reimposing the death penalty does not address the real problem of increasing criminality.
“Impunity and corruption of the police and judiciary, among others, is the problem that must be addressed. With the current state of the justice system in the country, the poor and the innocent will be the likely casualty of the death penalty if it is reimposed,” he said. Tanada said he is one of the authors who sponsored the repeal of the death penalty law. He said effective law enforcement, police work and the certainty of being caught and punished are the only possible deterrents to crime. The death penalty was abolished by the 1987 Constitution but restored during the Ramos administration after a crime wave involving high profile cases began in the late years of the 1st Aquino Presidency. President Gloria Arroyo later started commuting death sentences during her term till the eventual abolition of the death penalty in 2008. House Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Majority Leader Boyet Gonzales refused to answer the question when their comments were sought. On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman also expressed opposition to the death penalty, dismissing arguments by proponents that its deterrent effect will help curb the upsurge in organized crime activities In the country. Lagman cited some studies that show the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. Lagman’s office provided ABS-CBN with 2 positions papers from the FLAG or Free Legal Assistance Group that was used in justifying moves to abolish capital punishment. Among the points made in the document cited by Lagman’s office:
• The overwhelming conclusion from years of deterrence studies is that the death penalty is, at best, no more of a deterrent than a sentence of life in prison. In fact, some criminologists, such as William Bowers of Northeastern University, maintain that the death penalty has the opposite effect: that is, society is brutalized by the use of the death penalty, and this increases the likelihood of more murder
. • States in the United States that do not employ the death penalty generally have lower murder rates than states that do.
• The death penalty is not a deterrent because most people who commit murders either do not expect to be caught or do not carefully weigh the differences between a possible execution and life in prison before they act.
• A survey of the former and present presidents of the USA’s top academic criminological societies found that 84% of these experts rejected the notion that research had demonstrated any deterrent effect from the death penalty.
• The death penalty alone imposes an irrevocable sentence. Once an inmate is executed, nothing can be done to make amends if a mistake has been made. In the US, since 1973, at least 121 people have been released from death row after evidence of their innocence emerged. During the same period of time, over 982 people have been executed. Thus, for every eight people executed, we have found one person on death row who never should have been convicted. Colmenares said rapes increased by 40% when the death penalty was reimposed in January 1994. He said rape incidents increased 44% the following year. “Kidnappings and bank robberies continued at a high level. In 1994 the nationwide crime rate was reported to have declined by only 1 per cent, while the average monthly crime rate in Metro Manila rose by over 6.5% in 1994 from the previous years,” he said. A FLAG study provided by the office of Lagman showed that capital punishment maybe anti-poor. It said 73.1 percent of death row inmates belong to the lowest and lower classes of Philippine society, earning below P10,000 a month. It said 8.2 percent of the inmates belong to the middle class of society, earning between P10,001 and P50,000 a month while only 7 inmates (0.8 percent) belong to the upper socio-economic class of Philippine society, earning more than P50,000 a month. Against: It Teaches the Condemned Nothing
What is the purpose of punishment? We take our lead from one major source, our parents—and they no doubt took their lead from their own parents. When your young child emulates what he just saw in a Rambo movie, you give him a stern lecture about what is real and what is not, what is acceptable in real life and what is not. When your child tries some crazy acrobatic move off a piece of furniture and hurts himself, you might spank him to be sure that he remembers never to do it again. So when the child grows up, breaks into a home, and steals electronics, he gets caught and goes to prison. His time in prison is meant to deprive him of the freedom to go where he wants anywhere in the world, and to do what he wants when he wants. This is the punishment, and most people do learn from it. In general, no one wants to go back. But if that child grows up and murders someone for their wallet or just for fun, and they are in turn put to death, they are taught precisely nothing, because they are no longer alive to learn from it. We cannot rehabilitate a person by killing him or her.
If the foreknowledge of any punishment is meant to dissuade the criminal from committing the crime, why do people still murder others? The US had a 2012 murder rate of 4.8 victims per 100,000—meaning that nearly 15,000 people were victims of homicide that year. Capital punishment does not appear to be doing its job; it doesn’t seem to be changing every criminal’s mind about killing innocent people. If it does not dissuade, then it serves no purpose. The warning of life in prison without parole must equally dissuade criminals.
It is strange that a nation would denounce the practice of murder by committing the very same act. By doing so, we’re essentially championing the right to life by taking it from others. True—as a whole, we are not murderers, and understandably refuse to be placed in the same category as someone like Ted Bundy. But to many opponents of the death penalty, even Ted Bundy should have been given life without parole. The fact that he murdered at least thirty people—for the mere reason that he enjoyed doing it—has no bearing on the hypocrisy, the flagrant dishonesty, of the declaration that such a person deserves to be killed because he had no right to kill. If the goal of any punishment, as stated above, is to teach us those things we should not do, then the justice system should more adequately teach the criminality of killing by refusing to partake in it.
In the end, though, death is always at least a little painful. Perhaps the only truly peaceful way to go is while asleep—but no one has ever come back to say that this didn’t hurt. If your heart stops while you sleep, it is certainly possible that your brain will recognize a problem and wake you up at the very moment when it is too late. So what we cannot help but let Nature do, we ought not to force on others for any reason. If we do so, it might be fair to say that we law-abiding people, who embody the justice system, are guilty of equal cruelty towards criminals who commit murder. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for one, dictates that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
In the US, there are five legal methods of execution: lethal injection, electrocution, firing squad, hanging, and gassing. These are all intended to be as painless as possible, but they all run the risk of accidents. John Wayne Gacy, who was not afraid of death, was executed via lethal injection—the most efficient, risk-free method. Yet his death did not go as planned. The sodium thiopental entered his bloodstream successfully and put him to sleep. The pancuronium bromide was then administered successfully to paralyze his diaphragm. This would cause asphyxiation if the next chemical, potassium chloride, were not immediately administered to stop the heart. But the potassium chloride had congealed in its tube before Gacy was brought into the room. He was unconscious and unable to breathe for several minutes while the last drug’s tube was changed. His death took eighteen minutes, instead of the usual seven. And whether or not he was in great pain is impossible to determine.
10 Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty
Innocence and the Death Penalty
The wrongful execution of an innocent person is an injustice that can never be rectified. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty, 139 men and women have been released from death row nationally.
The High Cost of the Death Penalty
It costs far more to execute a person than to keep him or her in prison for life.
Death Penalty Can Prolong Suffering for Victims’ Families
Many family members who have lost love ones to murder feel that the death penalty will not heal their wounds nor will it end their pain; the extended legal process prior to executions can prolong the agony experienced by the victims’ families.
International Views on the Death Penalty
The vast majority of countries in Western Europe, North America and South America – more than 139 nations worldwide – have abandoned capital punishment in law or in practice.
Inadequate Legal Representation
Perhaps the most important factor in determining whether a defendant will receive the death penalty is the quality of the representation he or she is provided.
Scientific studies have consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing crime anymore than long prison sentences.
Arbitrariness in the Application of the Death Penalty
Politics, quality of legal counsel and the jurisdiction where a crime is committed are more often the determining factors in a death penalty case than the facts of the crime itself.
Religious Perspectives on the Death Penalty
Although isolated passages of religious scripture have been quoted in support of the death penalty, almost all religious groups in the United States regard executions as immoral.
The race of the victim and the race of the defendant in capital cases are major factors in determining who is sentenced to die in this country. In 1990 a report from the General Accounting Office concluded that “in 82 percent of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e. those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks.”
Alternatives to the Death Penalty
In every state that retains the death penalty, jurors have the option of sentencing convicted capital murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentence is cheaper to tax-payers and keeps violent offenders off the streets for good.