Top-Rated Free Essay

Death Penalty

Topics: Crime, Capital punishment, Prison, Criminal justice, Capital punishment in the United States / Pages: 6 (1339 words) / Published: Feb 20th, 2007
Through statistics, newspaper articles, internet findings and information from the US General Accounting office today I am going to persist in convincing my target audience that the death penalty is not a part of the correctional system . I will begin with a quote by Richard Dieter, an executive director from the death penalty information center, "The punishment of criminals by society is for the protection of society from punishment. But since such treatment is directed to the criminal rather than the crime, its great object should be his moral regeneration. The state has not discharged its whole duty to the criminal when it has punished him, nor even when it has reformed him. Having raised him up, it has further duty to aid in holding him up." The death penalty is the pole opposite of that approach. Once a person has been executed, there is no more "raising him up," nor "holding him up." This brings us again to my claim that the death penalty is not a part of the correctional system. I would suggest that it is much more a part of the political system. Today I will speak on four points 1) Who receives the death penalty 2) How some are innocent 3) The costs of the death penalty and 4) The victims. Who receives the death penalty
Many people believe the death penalty is necessary: According to my survey more than 75% of you believe the death penalty is effective and that there are some criminals who are just so terrible, some criminals that are just so dangerous, and some criminals that are just so irredeemable that execution is the only way of dealing with them. Who are the people we subject to capital punishment? Are they really the "worst of the worst"? The evidence does not even remotely support that argument. There are too many murders in this country, but the death penalty is not designed to address that problem. According to Deathpenaltystatistics .org few people who commit murder are ever sentenced to death, and even fewer are executed—less than 1% who murder are executed. Who are in this select group? To begin with, those who receive the death penalty are far more likely to have murdered a white person than a black person. In over 80% of the cases of those executed in this country, the victim was white, even though blacks are victims in 50% of the murders in the U.S. Why do the lives of those victims not merit the death penalty? In study after study, I have found that according to the U.S. General Accounting Office, the consistent conclusion was that the race of the victim is a determining factor in who receives the death penalty. What does that say to society? It says that, when it comes to the death penalty, white lives are more valuable than black lives. Race plays a decisive role—and we should not be executing anybody under such a system. Now that we've looked at Who receives the death penalty lets take a look at my second point how some are innocent. The most disturbing fact about who gets sentenced to death in America is that some of those people are innocent. Since the death penalty was reinstated, over 100 death row inmates have had their convictions overturned. Over half of these reversals have occurred since 1990. This is not a problem that is going away—the system is human and fallible. Mistakes can happen anywhere in the criminal justice system, but with the death penalty they bury their mistakes. And with so many mistakes revealed in recent years, they should not be executing anyone. If the death penalty were an assembly line, and it produced defective products that were endangering people's lives, the factory would be closed; and the products would be recalled. Here's a true story of a boy named Anthony Porter that I found in Chicago Sun Times. Porter was scheduled to be executed in September 1998 in Illinois. Porter was mentally retarded and his attorneys successfully asked the judge for a hearing to determine whether he was competent enough to be executed. With this long delay waiting execution, there was an opportunity for a journalism class at Northwestern University to take Porter's case as an investigative exercise. The students assigned to Porter's case tried to re-enact the scene of the crime, but the description from the trial would not match the real scene. They next contacted one of the witnesses. Amazingly, she admitted that she had lied about Porter at his trial. Moreover, she led the students to the actual killer, who eventually confessed to the crime on videotape. Porter was freed from death row in Illinois, walking out into the sunshine and the arms of the journalism students. It is a wonderful story, but it so easily could have ended differently. Wouldn't you say this is not an example of the system working well. Now that we've looked at Who receives the death penalty and how some are innocent lets take a look at my third point the cost of the death penalty. Compared to the costs of risking an innocent life, the financial costs of the death penalty are of less importance. But we as a society only have a limited amount of money to spend on safety. If millions of dollars are spent on the death penalty, then that money is not available for more police, or better lighting in crime areas, or for corrections. According to deathpenalty.org The death penalty is spending millions and millions of taxpayer dollars with very little to show for it. California, for example, has over 600 people on death row; they spend approximately $100 million per year on the death penalty beyond the ordinary costs of the criminal justice system. The state averages less than one execution per year—that amounts to $100 million for one execution! It is absurd. And not one penny spent on the death penalty goes toward corrections, where it might do some good. Now that we've looked at Who receives the death penalty and how some are innocent and the cost of the death penalty lets take a look at my fourth and final point the victims. What about the victims? Even if the death penalty is unfairly administered, and makes too many mistakes, and even if it does not make society safer and costs hundreds of millions of dollars, at least it serves the victims of crime. According to the death penalty information center Today, many victims' families are turning away from the death penalty. For one thing, the death penalty produces division in the victims' community and disappointment for 99% of the families involved. Since less than 1% of those who commit murder are ever executed, the families in the rest of the cases may feel cheated that their loved one was somehow short changed. And even where the death penalty is "the reward," it will only occur after 10 long years of uncertainty before an execution is carried out. Most likely, the case will be overturned at least once, it will be tried again, and in many instances a different sentence will result. We should not be putting victims through such a roller coaster of unpredictability. They should know right from the start that an execution is one of the least likely outcomes in their case. In conclusion, now that I have talked about who receives the death penalty, race being a deciding factor. How some are innocent, one case being Anthony Porter's. The cost of the death penalty and how it is spending millions and millions of taxpayer dollars with very little to show for it. And the victims and how the death penalty produces division in the their communities and disappointment for 99% of the families involved. I hope you all agree with me now that the death penalty is not a part of the correctional system.

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