Rewriting Possibility: 85%
Even though capital punishment deters some criminals from committing violent crimes, the rates of these crimes have not been reduced significantly since the death penalty was established, ND there is public concern about whether the death penalty is applied justly, and if the public does not support the death penalty, criminals will be less fearful of this type of punishment. In 2012 thirty-three states allowed capital punishment, and only 17 states had abolished it. Although many states permitted the death penalty, two states only partially allowed it.
This means that instead of sentencing any criminal to death, only extremely violent criminals were sentenced with the death penalty (Standstill). “Since 1 973, 140 people have been released from death row throughout the country due to evidence of their wrongful conviction. In the same time period, more than 1,400 people have been executed” (Death Penalty Facts 1). “In… Electrocution, the body of the condemned man is prepared beforehand with a fastening, and one of his pant legs Is split In order that an electric plate can be placed against his leg. Hen the executioner throws the switch that propels the electric current through the body of the prisoner, the victim cringes with torture, his flesh swells and his skin stretches too point of breaking. He defecates, he urinates, his tongue swells, and his eyes pop out. In some cases his eye balls rest on his cheeks; his flesh Is burned and smells of cooked meat; sometimes a spiral of smoke rises from his head” (Stevens). Rather than electrocution, there are other methods of capital punishment that may be used for execution of extremely violent criminals.
For example, there Is lethal injection. With lethal injection, the person being executed is strapped down by his or her arms, legs, and stomach to a gurney. Two IV needles are injected to his or her arms, which contain three different drugs. First an anesthetic that puts the person to sleep. Next, a neuromuscular blocking agent Is Injected. This paralyzes the person’s muscles and stops his or her breathing, but it does not kill the prisoner yet. The last drug injected stops the heart (Winnfield 44). Another form of execution is through the use of a gas chamber.
The prisoner is placed in a chamber and lethal gas is vented in to suffocate the prisoner (Stevens 69). Each of these methods of execution Is meant to be as humane as possible. In most cases, the state decides which method of execution to use. 1 OFF government, which ultimately gets its funds from tax payers. A study in 2003 in Kansas showed that on average the death penalty would cost 1. 26 million dollars per execution. In 2004 in Tennessee, the death penalty cost 48% more than the price of a life imprisonment. In 2008 in Maryland, the death penalty cost 3 million dollars per case.
In 2008 in California, it cost 137 million dollars per year for a Judicial system which includes the death penalty (Death Penalty Facts 5). These studies show how expensive the death penalty is, and bring up the question: Is it really worth this much money to try and deter violent crimes, especially when there is no real proof that the death penalty has lowered violent crime rates in any state? In today’s economy, we simply cannot afford to spend millions of dollars on a form of punishment that has not been proven successful at deterring violent crimes.
Before America started using these three forms of execution, there used to be even harsher methods. For example, there was hanging, which was the more preferred type of execution. Even worse; criminals were burned to death, beat to death, or tied to a wooden wheel and broken (The History of). These methods were used less frequently. They were used as methods of execution for the most violent Iranians. Not only has the Judicial system’s methods of executions changed, but the circumstances around executions has changed as well.
For instance, before the current methods of execution were put into place; when a criminal was hung, he or she would stand on a platform in front of the entire city with a rope around his or her neck (The History of). A lever would be pulled and the platform would drop, causing the criminal to hang by the rope. This would suffocate the criminal. Now, criminals are executed in prison; and the execution can only be watched by the victim’s lattes, the prisoner’s relatives, the prison warden, medical personnel, spiritual advisors, prison guards, government officials, and media representatives (Bonbons).
Although many states allow capital punishment, only about half of the American public supports the death penalty (Macaroni 195). Although many people do support the death penalty, most of them are less interested in applying this punishment to criminals, and more interested in using the death penalty only as a deterrent for violent crimes. This is because crime rates have become significantly lower over time which has caused the public to have less fear of violent crimes. Also, the public is hesitant about applying the death penalty because there is much concern that it may be unjust.
Without the support of the public for applying the death penalty, Juries and Judges are less likely to sentence criminals to death. Over time, deaths by execution rates have been significantly reduced. This is partially because of how the public feels about the death penalty, and partially because Judges have more rights to choose how to punish criminals. More states now permit Judges to give a life sentence in prison without any possibility of parole Macaroni 196). Many Judges feel that this punishment deters violent crimes Just as well as the death penalty.
Many Judges also prefer life sentences because they believe this form of punishment to be more humane, and less expensive. Although the death penalty is used less often than it once was, when it is used it can be racially biased. Statistics show that criminals who victimize a minority group, criminals who victimize white people (Click). Also, if a criminal is part of a minority group, they are more likely to be sentenced to death than a person who is not a part of a minority group. Not only is the death penalty racially biased, but it is biased in other ways as well.
For example, an individual’s social class may affect whether or not he or she is sentenced to death. A person who has been identified as upper class, such as a doctor, is less likely to be sentenced to death than a person who has been identified as middle class, such as a teacher (Click). Of course, this may also be related to the criminal’s ability to pay for proper legal representation. The constitution states that there should be no cruel or unusual punishment against any human being.
The death penalty completely goes against this because aging someone’s life away is both cruel, and unusual. “Death is… An unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality, and in its enormity… The fatal constitutional infirmity in the punishment of death is that it treats ‘members of the human race as unmans, as objects to be toyed with and discarded. [It is] thus inconsistent with the fundamental premise of the Clause that even the vilest criminal remains a human being possessed of common human dignity’ (Top 10 Pros).
This quote shows that capital punishment is unusual because it is painful, final, meaning once a person has been executed, nobody can undo this action, and it is seriously immoral. Not only does the death penalty go against this constitutional right, but it goes against another major one as well. The constitution states that the execution of any mentally ill person is prohibited. The death penalty usually disregards this. Dozens of criminals who have been diagnosed with a mental illness have been executed as a punishment for their crime (Death Penalty Facts 1).
Other than mentally ill people, foreign nationals have also been executed. A foreign national is a citizen of another country. Many of the foreign nationals who have been executed were completely unaware of their right to communicate with their consular representatives, after being arrested (Death Penalty Facts 1). Without disregarding the previously mentioned facts about the immorality and unconstitutionality of capital punishment; the most convincing reason for abolishing the death penalty is that there is no evidence of it effectively deterring violent crimes.
Fourteen states that had abolished the death penalty in 2008 had lower homicide rates than states that have not abolished it (Death Penalty Facts 1). Also, countries such as Canada, who have abolished the death penalty, have not yet seen a rise in their homicide rates (Macaroni 195). One reason that the death penalty does not work as a deterrent is because punishment has been found to be most effective when it immediately follows the offense. This often does not happen, because the criminal Justice system’s processes are very lengthy. Depending on the case, punishment almost never takes place immediately after the offense.
Since criminals know that they will not immediately be punished, their fear of punishment becomes diminished, causing them to be more keel to commit the crime. Also, it has been found that for a punishment to be an effective form of deterrence, the criminal has to know for sure that they will be severely punished for their crime. Many crimes go unpunished, and criminals do not causes people to question the severity of the punishment they may receive, and whether or not they will be punished at all. If a criminal doubts the certainty, severity, and promptness of the punishment, he or she will be more likely to commit the crime (Paternoster).
Another reason the death penalty does not effectively deter violent crimes is cause many times when someone is about to commit a violent crime, he or she may not consider the consequences at all. Violent crimes are often crimes of anger, desperation, or passion; or a result of some mental illness. These types of crime are often spontaneous; with little or no thought of the consequences. For the punishment to effectively deter the crime, the individual must consider the consequences, and the certainty and severity of those consequences must outweigh the immediate gratification of the crime he or she is about to commit.
When a person eels the need to commit a violent crime, he or she may only be thinking of the reasons why, and the plan for how to do it (Paternoster). One opposing viewpoint is that the death penalty does deter violent crimes because after a criminal is executed, he or she can no longer commit crimes (Arguments For and). Although this is true, capital punishment is not the only way to prevent these criminals from committing more crimes. They could be sentenced to life in prison, which would still prevent them from going on the streets and committing crimes. Also, this type of deterrence does not significantly affect the rates f murders.
In a study done by the Death Penalty Information Center in 2004 researchers found that there was no significant difference in murder rates in death penalty states compared to non-death penalty states (see appendix). Some studies have shown that for each execution, there have been fewer murders to follow. For example, a study done by Isaac Earlier showed that for each execution, there were 8 less murders. Although he discovered this to be true in this study, he found other results in another study. In his next study he discovered that some executions do not deter murder.
It is hard to tell which of his studies is more accurate because they both had imperfections due to time-series data and cross-section data (Connors 142). Some people argue that capital punishment deters terrorism. “If executions are a harsher penalty, then some terrorists should be deterred by them” (Connors 143). This is true, but many people believe that execution is not a harsher penalty because it could actually be the terrorist’s ticket to holy martyrdom (Connors 143). For example, a suicide bomber is planning to die when he or she commits a crime, so how is killing them a punishment?
Instead of giving the terrorist what he or she wanted in the first place, which was to die, the terrorist should be punished with a life sentence in prison. If more Judges decided to give criminals life sentences in prison instead of sentencing them to death, it would help America’s economy because the government would not need to spend as much money on the expensive process of putting criminals to death. Secondly, innocent lives of those who were wrongly convicted would be saved. Thirdly, America’s Judicial system would have more of the publics support. Lastly, sentences would be less likely to be racially biased or unconstitutional.
One way that Americans can convince Judges to make this decision American population could help this cause is by speaking up at public meetings, and people can also vote against the death penalty when serving in a Jury. Additionally, the American public can help this cause by writing to congress about the ineffectiveness of capital punishment as a method of deterrence. If enough people bring this matter to the attention of the congress, its members may decide to take national action. They might tighten laws about when criminals can be sentenced to death, or they could even abolish the death penalty all together.
There are many reasons for capital punishment to be abolished. First of all, killing a person (murderer or not) is inhumane, and it is cruel and unusual punishment. Another reason is that capital punishment does not have the entire populations’ support. Also, the death penalty is racially biased and unconstitutional. If the Judicial system sentences criminals to life in prison rather than the death penalty, criminals would not die because of racial biases, and the issue of the constitutionality of the death penalty would be resolved.