To Kill or Not to Kill

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Term paper|
To Kill or not to Kill|
LEN 203|
|
Jessa Bogema|
11/11/2011|

A pro’s and con’s look at the death penalty both here in Michigan as well as in the United States as a whole.|

To kill or not to kill
The concept of the death penalty was first brought to America with the British settlers(*1), and the first execution was carried out in 1608 in Jamestown where Cpt. George Kendall was executed for being a spy. Since its origin in 1608, the death penalty has been used 15,269 times (as of 2002).With the favored method of death being hanging at 61.3% and Electrocution being second at 29%.(*2)Since 1976 22 defendants have been executed for crimes they committed as a juvenile.(*3) The state that has executed the most people since origination has been Virginia; whereas, Michigan has only put 13th people to death ever, all of which were before it’s statehood in 1846. Michigan was the first of all English speaking jurisdictions in the world to abolish its death penalty; they did so after not one but two different cases which caused uproar to the people of the state. The first was in 1828, Patrick Fitzpatrick, a man who lived in Detroit, was living at an inn across the river in Sandwich (now Windsor), Ontario. One day, the daughter of the innkeeper was found raped and murdered. Fitzpatrick was arrested and accused of committing the crime. After a brief trial, and based on circumstantial evidence, Fitzpatrick was found guilty and shortly after that hanged to death… Seven years later, Fitzpatrick’s former roommate at the inn in Sandwich lay on his deathbed. Wanting to clear his conscience before dying, he confessed to raping and killing the innkeeper’s daughter. The residents of Detroit and the rest of Michigan were very angry at the idea that an innocent man had been executed. But this rage was not isolated to one case .Two years after Fitzpatrick was executed, Stephen Simmons was put on trial and convicted of killing his pregnant wife while in a drunken rage. The local sheriff, who was appointed after his predecessor resigned (because he did not believe that Simmons should be executed), made the execution into a spectator event. The execution took on the air of a carnival, with bleachers built around the execution site (where the Downtown Branch of the Detroit Public Library sits today), formal invitations issued, hotels and inns filled to capacity, brass bands, and local businesses sold food and other items relating to the execution itself. It’s no wonder after a literal circus why people in this state pushed for the abolishment of the death penalty here. Many other states as well have been trying to push for the abolishment of the death penalty although currently only 12 states do not use it. No matter what side you fall on there are defiantly many things to consider.

First thing to consider would be the cost. Currently the average cost of housing someone for a natural life sentence runs approximately $20,758.00/yr. but to execute that same person would cost $163,000.00 more.(*4) Some would argue that the onetime cost to execute would pay for itself in 8 yrs, while others would say it would be better just to allow them to stay in prison and face their life without parole or ever being free again. To allow them to stay incarcerated would save each state the money they pay for the timely/costly appeals process which each person sentenced to death is legally entitled to. They would also save the original money spent(millions each year) that is spent on capital trials themselves, and with the current economic struggle this whole country is facing does it not seem wiser to save those millions spent yearly and just incarcerate someone for natural life?

The next thing to consider would be the likelihood of killing someone who is indeed innocent as professed. Though there is no way to know an actual and accurate number of people who are imprisoned and later put to death who are innocent, there have been...
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