SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology
Instructor: Jeanette Maxey
December 20, 2010
The Death Penalty
Capital punishment in the 21st century endures many inequalities and injustices. The common arguments for the death penalty are filled with inadequacies. Having the death penalty is both expensive and time consuming to sentence criminals to death. The most frequently raised argument for capital punishment is retributive. According to a recent analysis sending to a person to prison for life costs $1.1 million and sending a person to death row costs $3 million because of appeals and enhanced spending to house the individuals on death row (Schaefer). As a deterrent to crime, the death penalty has little effect because the chances of a murder being sentenced to death are slim to none. However the death penalty deters some people. As the Royal Commission (1948–1953) observed in its lengthy and thoughtful report, “We can number its failures, but we cannot number its successes.”23 We can never know how many people who would have otherwise committed murder stopped them only because society threatened death as punishment. The deterrence question, really, is not whether the death penalty deters—sometimes it surely does—but whether, on balance, it deters more effectively than life without parole. (D’elia). A number of studies have compared the prevalence of crime between the United States and Canada. Crime rates in the United States are comparatively high because in most cases, it was found that crime was more frequent and non-specific explanations were offered (i.e., culture, laws, national character, among others). However, a review of studies shows that much emphasis has been given to homicide, which represents a very infrequent type of crime, and for which the U.S. situation can be explained by very specific or peculiar factors. Determinants of the homicide rate are quite different from those of burglary, car theft...