Capital punishment would cost less and ensure effective crime deterrence if the process of execution was not prolonged.
Capital punishment in the United States does not ensure deterrence or punishment and can cost up to 10 times more than life in prison because of the prolonged process of execution. If the United States can shorten the time a defendant spends on death row, then it will no longer cost more than life imprisonment without parole. This paper discusses life on death row, the cost of incarceration and the average length of time a convicted felon spends in death row, the definition of punishment along with how crime deterrence is created. The way to reduce the cost of capital punishment and ensure deterrence is to develop a court mandated timeline from conviction to execution that does not exceed two years.
Capital Punishment in the United States
It is more likely for an inmate in death row to die of natural causes than it is for them to executed. The amount of time a prisoner spends in death row costs more than an American teacher is paid each year (U.S. Department of Education, 2011). Convicted murderers in death row enjoy more privileges than half of the world. The United States is the only country that sentences convicted felons to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The drawn-out capital punishment process negatively effects the inmate’s mental health which winds up increasing prison’s medical budget. The court process along with outlandish inmate privileges, contradicts the definition of effective punishment and deterrence. According to Martin, behavior modification is successful when punishment is swift, fair and does not come with privileges (Martin, 1978). If the United States justice system is able to implement successful punishment, then deterrence is a direct result. China has a justice system that processes capital cases in as short as two months. Capital punishment would cost less and ensure effective crime deterrence if the process of execution was not prolonged. Extend Stay on Death Row
As a result of the Unites States lengthy capital punishment process, Viva Leroy Nash died of natural causes on death row in Arizona instead of fulfilling his death sentence. He was sentenced to death in 1983 and had been on death row for over 15 years (T.A. Press, 2010) .Manuel Valle killed a police officer when he was 27 years old and was executed when he was 61 (Liptak, 2011). An inmate in Nevada, who pled guilty to murder in 1984, died of natural causes in 2012 (associated Press, 2012). An article found in The Bakersfield Californian points out that “Of the 31 death penalty verdicts by Kern juries since 1978, only three defendants have died.” (Swenson, 2011). The fact that only three convicted murders out of thirty-one sentenced to death have died with the time span of thirty-three years may be surprising to most. However, what was more shocking was the fact that the three felons that died, where not executed; two died from suicide and one from throat cancer (Swenson, 2011). The records of convicted murderers on death row that have died , not by execution, is astounding. The list of convicted felons that have spent decades on death goes on and on. The New York Times points out that there are about 3,300 inmates on death row in the United States and only 46 executions were completed last year (Liptak, 2011). Inmates sentenced to death, spend an average of 13 years on death row in the United States. Convicted felons in the state of California spend an average of 17.5 years (Swenson, 2011). Justice Breyer wrote, “Our constitution was written at a time when delays between sentencing and execution could be measured in days or weeks, not decades”(Liptak, 2011). According to the Minnesota Law Journal, 18th century law called for execution to take place the day after sentencing (July, 1893). Currently, the...
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