The Capital Punishment Debate
Immanuel Kant justifies his support for the death penalty by stating in his work Metaphysics of Morals that “if he has committed murder, he must die.” (Kant 1996) In Kant’s opinion, the death penalty is justified only when regarding murder and no other crime, unless it causes substantial damage to society. In Kant’s time, the eighteenth century, people seemed to believe in an eye for an eye. Do people still have the same mentality about the death penalty in modern times? According to statistics from the Bureau of Justice, there are approximately 3,260 death row inmates in the United States today. In today’s society, the death penalty law is in place to punish the alleged criminals who commit the most heinous crimes. Even though the law is in place, not everyone agrees with it. Supporters of the death penalty law see it as a form of justice for the victims and the victim’s families. Those who oppose the death penalty feel that the law is morally wrong. There are many arguments for both sides of the death penalty debate. Who is right? In this paper, I plan to prove why the death penalty is not a justifiable form of punishment. I plan to prove this by showing the high cost of the death penalty, it does not help with the deterrence of crime, and sentencing of the death penalty is racially biased.
The first point I would like to make is the death penalty is far more expensive than the alternative sentence of life without parole. For example, in Texas, a death penalty case can cost on average $2.3 million (Dieter 1992). This is about three times the cost of a prisoner serving time in a maximum security prison for forty years. In many cases, the death penalty is not
sentenced; and the defendant ends up spending life in prison. In those instances, the state incurs the cost of a capital trial plus the cost of housing an inmate for life. This does not include the cost when the verdict is appealed. At this point, another...
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