Captial Punisment Putting to death people who have been judge to have committed certain extremely heinous crimes is a practice of ancient standing. But in the United States, in the latter half of the twentieth century, it has become a very controversial issue. Changing views on this difficult issue led the Supreme Court to abolish capital punishment in 1972 but later turned to uphold it again in 1977, with certain conditions. Indeed, restoring capital punishment is the will of the people, yet many voices have been raised against it. Heated public debate have centered on questions of deterrence, public safety, sentencing equality, and the execution of innocents, among others. One argument states that the death penalty does not deter murder. Dismissing capital punishment on that basis would require us to eliminate all prisons as well because they do not seem to be any more effective in the deterrence of crime.
Others say that states which have the death penalty have higher crime rates than those that do not. And that a more sever punishment only inspires more sever crimes. But every state in the union is different. These differences include population, the number of cities, and the crime rate. Urbanized states are more likely to have higher crime rates than states that are more rural.
The state that have capital punishment have it because of their high crime rate, not the other way around. In 1985, a study was published by economist Stephen K. Layson, at the University of North Carolina, that showed that every execution of a murderer deters, on average of 18 murders. The study also showed that raising the number of death sentences by only one percent would prevent 105 murders. However, only 38 percent of all murder cases result in a death sentence, and of those, only 0.1 percent are actually executed. During the temporary suspension on capital punishment from 1972 – 1976, researchers gathered murder statistics across the country. Researcher Karl Spence of Texas A&M University came up with these statistics, in 1960, there were 56 executions in the United States and 9,140 murders. By 1964, when there were only 15 executions, the number of murders had risen to 9,250.
In 1969, there were no executions and 14,590 murders, and 1975, after six years without executions, 20,510 murders occurred. So the number of murders grew as the number of executions shrank. Spence said: While some [death penalty] abolitionists try to face down the results of their disastrous experiment and still argue to the contrary, the..[data] concludes that a substantial deterrent effect has been observed..In six months, more Americans are murdered than have been killed by execution in this entire century..Until we begin to fight crime in earnest [by using the death penalty], every person who dies at a criminals hands is a victim of our inaction. And in Texas, the highest murder rate in Houston (Harris County) occurred in 1981 with 701 murders. Since Texas reinstated the death penalty in 1982, Harris County has executed more murderers than any other city or state in the union and has seen the greatest reduction in murder from 701 in 1981 down to 261 in 1996 – a 63% reduction, representing a 270% differential. Also, in the 1920s and 30s, death penalty advocates were known to refer to England as a means of proving capital punishments deterrent effect.
Back then, at least 120 murderers were executed every year in the United States and sometimes the number reached 200. Even then, England used the death penalty far more consistently than we did and their overall murder rate was smaller than any one of our major cities at the time. Now, since England abolished capital punishment about thirty years ago, the murder rate has subsequently doubled there and 75 English citizens have been murdered by released killers. Abolitionists will claim that most studies show that the death penalty has no effect on the murder rate at all. But thats only because those studies have been focused on inconsistent executions. Capital punishment, like all other applications, must be used consistently in the United States for decades, so abolitionists have been able to establish the delusion that it does not deter at all to rationalize their fallacious arguments. But the evidence shows that whenever capital punishment is applied consistently or against a small murder rate it has always been followed by a decrease in murder.
There is not an example on how the death penalty has failed to reduce the murder rate under those conditions. So capital punishment is very capable of deterring murder if we allow it to, but our legal system is so slow and inefficient, criminals are able to stay several steps ahead of us and gain leeway through our lenience. Several reforms must be made in our justice system so the death penalty can cause a positive effect. Abolitionists claim that there are alternatives to the death penalty. They say that life in prison without parole serves just as well.
Certainly, if you ignore all the murders criminals commit within prison when they kill prison guards and other inmates, and also when they kill decent citizens upon escape. According to the United States Department of Justice, the average prison sentence served for murder is five years and eleven months. But just putting a murderer away for life is not good enough. Laws change, so do parole boards, and people forget the past. Those are things that cause life imprisonment to weather away.
As long as the murderer lives, there is always a chance, no matter how small, that he will strike again. This is why for people who truly value public safety, there is no substitute for the best in its defense which is capital punishment. It not only forever bars the murderer from killing again, it also prevents parole boards and criminal rights activists from giving him the chance to repeat his crime. There are those that state that capital punishment is unfair to people of other races, classes, or mental abilities. I say that these aspects are not a issue.
Murder has no color, class, or IQ. A murderer is a murderer. When a loved one is killed, I doubt anyone could take comfort in the fact that the perpetrator had a low IQ, was black instead of white, or poor instead of rich. A 1991 Rand Corporation study by Stephen Klein found that white murderers received the death penalty slightly more often (32%) than non-white murderers (27%). And while the study found murderers of white victims received the death penalty more often (32%) than murderers of non-white victims (23%), when controlled for variables such as severity and number of crimes committed, there is no disparity between those sentenced to death for killing white or black victims.
Also, doesnt the fact that the death penalty is optional make it seem more prone to racial discrimination? It has been called racist since a prosecutor can seek a death sentence against an African-American for capital crime but not a white person for the same offense. You never hear of prison terms being called racist because there are mandatory sentences for many crimes. If the death penalty were the same way, race would not be an issue and the courts would be forced to concentrate only on the crime committed. For capital punishment to be applied equally to every criminal, rich or poor, black or white, it must be mandatory for all capital cases. There are claims that it is more expensive for the state to execute a criminal than to incarcerate him for life.
Many opponents presented, as facts, claim that the cost of the death penalty is so expensive (at least $2 million per case?), that we must choose life without parole at a cost of $1 million for 50 years. But JFA (Justice for All) also estimated that life without parole cases will cost $1.2 million – $3.6 million more than equivalent death penalty cases. Life without parole prisoners face, on average, 30 or 40 years in prison while the annual cost of incarceration is $40,000 to $50,000 a year for each prisoner or more. There is no question that the up front cost of the death penalty is significantly higher than that of the life without parole cases. There also appears to be no question that, over time, the equivalent life without parole cases are much more expensive – from $1.2 to $3.6 million – than death penalty cases.
Opponents claim that the death penalty costs 3 – 10 times more than life without parole. TIME Magazine (2/7/94) found that nationwide the average cell costs is $24,000 a year and the maximum security cell cost is $75,000 a year. Therefore, any cost calculations should be based specifically of cell cost for criminals who have committed t …