Essay, Research Paper: Death Penalty


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This sound rings through each and every death row inmate a thousand times a day;
But should it? Capital punishment is one of the most controversial topics among
Americans today. Since every person has there own opinion on this topic, either
for or against, the question always raised is "Is it morally right."
The number of problems with the death penalty are enormous, ranging from
innocence to racism, and these problems will never be resolved unless the death
penalty is abolished. The problems with capital punishment stem as far back as
the ritual itself. The number of occurrence on why the death penalty is racist
is uncountable. A 1990 report released by the federal government's General
Accounting Office found a "pattern of evidence indicating racial
disparities in the charging, sentencing and imposition of the death penalty
after the Furman decision." Professor David Baldus examined sentencing
patterns in Georgia in the 1970's. After reviewing over 2,500 homicide cases in
that state, controlling for 230 non-racial factors, he concluded that a person
accused of killing a white was 4.3 times more likely to be sentenced to death
than a person accused of killing a black. The Stanford Law Review published a
study that found similar patterns of racial dispair, based on the race of the
victim, in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina,
Oklahoma and Virginia. For example, in Arkansas findings showed that defendants
in a case involving a white victim are three-and-a-half times more likely to be
sentenced to death; in Illinois, four times; in North Carolina, 4.4 times, and
in Mississippi five times more likely to be sentenced to death than defendants
convicted of murdering blacks. There is also the issue of Capital Punishment
being a deterrent. But does the death penalty really deter crime? The death
lobby wants you to believe the answer to that question is "yes." But,
in fact, it is a resounding "NO." Consider this...the US is the only
Western nation that still allows the death penalty, and we also have one of the
highest crime rates. During the 1980s, death penalty states averaged an annual
rate of 7.5 criminal homicides per 100,000, while abolition states averaged a
rate of 7.4 per 100,000. That means murder was actually more common in states
that use the death penalty. Also consider a nationwide survey of
police chiefs and sheriffs, capital punishment was ranked last as a way of
reducing violent crime. Only twenty-six percent thought that the death penalty
significantly reduces the number of homicides. The theory behind the deterrence
doctrine is flawed itself. Murderers do not examine risk/reward charts before
they kill someone. Being a criminal is inherently imprisonment
ought to deter a rational person itself. Besides, no criminal commits a crime if
he believes he will be caught. The next issue that deserves some observation is
that of Capital punishment being economically correct, meaning will it save the
U.S. and its taxpayers money. "The death penalty is not now, nor has it
ever been, a more economical alternative to life imprisonment," said
Spangenberg and Walsh in an article in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. A
study by the NY State Defenders Association showed that the cost of a capital
trial alone is more than double the cost of life imprisonment. In Maryland, a
comparison of capital trial costs with and without the death penalty for the
years 1979-1984 concluded that a death penalty case costs "approximately 42
percent more than a case resulting in a non-death sentence," according to
the US Government Accounting Office. In 1988 and 1989 the Kansas legislature
voted against reinstating the death penalty after it was informed that
reintroduction would involve a first-year cost of more than $11 million. And the
Miami Herald reported that Florida, with one of the nation's largest death rows,
has estimated that the true cost of each execution is approximately $3.2
million, or approximately six times the cost of a life-imprisonment sentence.
The last issue that should be observed is that of innocence. Are there really
innocent people on death row? At least twenty-three people have been executed
who did not commit the crime they were accused of. And that's only those that we
know. And here lies an inherent danger of capital punishment...when we execute
an innocent person; the real killer is still on the streets, ready to victimize
someone else. But when an innocent person is arrested, he is often the driving
reason behind further investigation, and if he is executed, than the case
remains closed forever. Or, at least, until someone else gets killed by the real
perpetrator. On a Final note, there is also the aspect of religion playing a
factor in the Capital Punishment debate. Many people point to the passage in
Leviticus, which states that an eye for an eye is God's decree. However, Jesus
Christ overturns these Old Testament laws. Given are the examples on why the
bible does not support the death penalty; "You have heard that it was said,
'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an
evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and
if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if
anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile." Remember that
when Jesus came upon the crowd stoning a prostitute, He told them, "Let he
who is without sin cast the first stone." Christ taught a doctrine of
peace, love, and forgiveness, not revenge, retribution, and death. Capital
punishment is a power that no man or woman deserves to make for another human
being. The Constitution clearly states that everybody deserves, "life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;" But if you kill that person how can
any of this be attained? Capital punishment is just plain wrong and has no place
in today's society. There are too many flaws in the death penalty; therefore the
only reasonable solution is to abolish the death penalty.

BibliographyVivian Berger. “ Rolling the Dice to Decide Who Dies”. Current Issues and
Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with Readings.
5th ed. Eds. Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. Boston, Bedford, 1999. 555 – 57 .
Edward I. Koch. “ The Death Penalty: Can It Ever Be Justified?”. Current
Issues and Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with
Readings. 5th ed. Eds. Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. Boston, Bedford, 1999. 512
–14 Michael Sepulveda. Death Penalty Deficits in Modern Society. Chicago:
Newman, 1992
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