Capital Punishment: Proper Punishment or a Form of Revenge?
The death penalty has been around forever, in every recorded civilization there has always been some form of capital punishment. The methods of carrying out the death penalty have changed throughout history, from the more brutal types of our ancestors such as stoning and crucifixion, to the so-called humane ways, like lethal injection or the gas chamber being used today. There are more countries that have abolished the death penalty than ones where it is still legal, and the United States is the only country in the Western Civilized World to continue using it today. The United States is one of the four countries that carry out the highest number of executions every year. The death penalty has not been proven to reduce the number of violent crimes, it is much more expensive to carry out an execution than to house an inmate for life and it is a final, irreversible sentence that has been proven in numerous occasions to have been carried out on innocent people.
Studies on the deterrence factor of the death penalty have shown repeatedly that the death penalty has not had a diminishing factor on the number of violent crimes committed. When comparing the number of murders in states with or without the death penalty, it has been shown that there is no significant difference between the two, if anything states with higher executions have shown a higher number of murders. “One study by Thorsten Sellin found that between 1989 and 2002, California (one execution), Texas (239 executions) and New York (no executions) all had almost identical patterns of murder rates from year to year-—though overall, Texas’ average was highest.” ("Five reasons to," 2010) Police chiefs around the country do not cosider the death penalty as the best tool in fighting crime, on the contrary, the chart below shows that when polled less than 1% of police chiefs considered the expanded use of death penalty a priority for them. (Dieter, 1995) [pic]
The death penalty’s main purpose was thought to be to deterred crime but as Janet Reno so eloquently put it "I think that the only purpose for the death penalty, as I see it, is vengeance--pure and simple vengeance. But I think vengeance is a very personal feeling and I don't think it is something that civilized government should engage in . . . ." The death penalty has become more of a political tool to show that the politician is tough on crime than a crime fighting tool, both prosecutors and police officers would say that it does very little to prevent crimes; "I do not think the death penalty is a deterrent of any consequence in preventing murders," said Mr. O'Hair, who has been a prosecutor and judge for 30 years. Most homicides, he said, are "impulsive actions, crimes of passion," in which the killers do not consider the consequences of what they are doing.” (Bonner, & Fessenden, 2000) Not only is the death penalty not a deterrent to crime but it can cost the state 2-5 times more to carry out than the cost of housing an inmate for life. ((Messerli, 2009) In a study by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, the report shows that “The additional cost of confining an inmate to death row, as compared to the maximum security prisons where those sentenced to life without possibility of parole ordinarily serve their sentences, is $90,000 per year per inmate. With California’s current death row population of 670, that accounts for $63.3 million annually.” • Using conservative rough projections, the Commission estimates the annual costs of the present (death penalty) system to be $137 million per year. • The cost of the present system with reforms recommended by the Commission to ensure a fair process would be $232.7 million per year. • The cost of a system in which the number of death-eligible crimes was significantly narrowed would be $130 million per year. • The cost of a system...
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