Capital Punishment: Costs of The Death Penalty
Let us suppose that killing as a form of punishment is a moral and universally accepted practice. Would it then be acceptable to issue this irreparable sanction to a select few while allowing others, equally accountable, to avoid it? It is acceptable to our criminal justice system for it seems to be standard operating procedure. Many embrace the death penalty based on the "eye for an eye" concept. There is certainly some merit to this argument and it seems quite fair and logical. Unfortunately our use of the death penalty is neither fair nor logical. Our criminal justice system's "lip service" to the age-old concept is an insulting disguise for such an obscurity of fairness and logic. The death penalty is frivolous and discriminatory in its procedure because of the unreasonable prices we pay to execute certain groups at much higher rates than others.
We pay different prices for using a death penalty. Sadly, today more than ever, the dollar seems to be the endlessly interchangeable standard of value. We strive to make money, save money and when we spend money we do so with a valued return in mind. Accordingly, a popular argument contends that we spend too much money incarcerating prisoners for life. We probably do but the price tag on issuing a death sentence according to a Florida study is $3.1 million compared to $1 million for a life sentence; a 3100% difference (Walker 1994, 108). Imagine your death being valued at $3.1 million - how flattering. Based on these figures, the difference in the price of an execution and the price of life behind bars is enough to feed 7,200 starving children for ten years. The price of an execution is amazing. Naturally, for such a price, we should consider our "valued" return. In return for an execution we receive utter incapacitation; an essential return indeed but we get the same from a life sentence at a fraction of the cost. What else do we get?...
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