Death Penalty: Yes or No?
Amanda Nichole Hester
Instructor Gary Henry
September 28, 2013
The debate over the death penalty has been looming over the United States of America for numerous years. The death penalty/ sentence has been around since 5th century B.C. The practice of sentencing someone to death dates back to when the colonists settled in the New World. The controversy that the death penalty has caused in the United States is startling within itself. The death penalty is in place for punishment among hard criminals and at one time was considered to be cruel and unusual punishment brought down by the Supreme Court in 1972. That is not the case in today’s society because in 1976 the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty did not violate any constitutional amendments as long asit is carried out in a careful and judicious manner”(ProQuest Staff, 2013). The issues surrounding the death penalty involves wrongful convictions, cost of a death sentence, and is it still effective and moral. Some say the sentence of death is not as effective as it once was, mainly because of the cost, while others still believe it serves as a deterrent for other criminals. The following questions will be reviewed concerning the death penalty: 1. Are the costs associated with the death penalty worth holding on to the death sentence? 2. What about wrongful convictions?
3. Does the death penalty still serve as a deterrent?
4. Is the death penalty moral?
Understanding the complex nature of the death penalty issues in today’s society might help the people of America decide whether or not to keep the death penalty or repeal it. Are the Costs Associated with the Death Penalty Worth Holding onto the Death Sentence?
The costs that applies to death penalty cases are enormous. A death penalty case requires more pre-trial time, more attorneys, more trials, and then all the appeals that will follow a conviction. In 2011, “California has spent more than $4 billion dollars on capital punishment since 1978, [only] executing 13 criminals. That’s about $184 million more a year than life sentences would have cost” (Williams, 2011). California is not the only state that deals with cost concerns over the death penalty. As of 2012, five states which include New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and Conneticut, abolished the capital punishment over cost factors regarding the death penalty. An example, “A 1994 Colorado death verdict currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court has cost the state of Colorado nearly $18 million to fund through all the appeals”(Bronner, 2012). The individual states could use the excessive amount of money they are spending on capital punishment on something else needed for the state, such as schools, roads, and public safety. The costs of death penalty cases are only expenses to the taxpayers and the states. What About Wrongful Convictions?
Wrongful convictions in death penalty cases are also a major factor of concerns along with cost issues. Applying the death sentence has declined in the United States partly because the American people are aware that individuals have been exonerated from the death sentence based on DNA evidence (Bronner, 2012). Since the death penalty resurfaced in 1976, there is no possible way to determine how many individuals who were sentenced to death that were innocent. Around 1983, Kirk Bloodworth was the first death row inmate to be exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States (Bloodworth, 2013). Bloodworth has made the repeal of the death sentence his lifetime work because he does not want what has happened to him to carry on. Texas is known for the death penalty but Turow states, “In the past decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily halted dozens of Texas executions and granted relief to a number of its prisoners” (Turow, 2011). Questions about wrongful convictions loom over the American people in the death...
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