Death Penalty Ignorance
Widely discussed all over the world, the death penalty has caused much conflict with personal and spiritual beliefs. But how much does the public really know about the death penalty? How are the societal stereotypes on the death penalty affecting the public’s views about it? Before taking a stance on the death penalty, individuals should consider what might be new information to them. This includes the brutalization effect, the lack of deterrence in the history of the court system, the jury stereotyping, wrongful convictions, and the different controversial worldviews. Research indicates that American death penalty laws are not justified and the public is painfully uneducated about it. One of these misconceptions is the Brutalization Effect, which is the idea that the homicide rate increases around the geographical area during the time of an execution on death row. Gary Potter, a professor of police studies, explains, in an article, that the reasons for this are: Executions desensitize the public to the immorality of killing, increasing the probability that some people will then decide to kill; the state legitimizes the notion that vengeance for past misdeeds is acceptable; and executions also have an imitation effect. People actually will follow the example set by the state, after all, people feel if the government can kill its enemies, so can they (Potter 1997). Society reacts to political and other controversies in many ways. Violence is a common backlash that puts communities in danger. This is influenced by the poor example set by the political authorities making these decisions. It is hypocritical of our government to commit the same crime of ending an individual’s life, especially if he or she is being punished because of murder. With that said, states and the institutions of law need to set a better example for their society to follow. The public is not specifically informed about the negative retaliation that heightens during the time of a persecution. People who support the death penalty are not knowledgeable on the subject or may not acknowledge it. Violence is inevitable in any society, but adequate control of that violence is essential. One way government tries to control crime is with the deterrence method. Deterrence is the idea that when people are aware of the consequences, they are less influenced to commit a crime. Many studies have been done to demonstrate that this idea of deterrence does not prove to be true. Concluding that the death penalty does not alter the amount of homicides. Actually, most convicts of murder were not acting rationally during the crime. They were either under the influence of drugs, had a mental disorder, or were under intense emotions like anger. For the states that have abolished the death penalty in the past and have recently reinstated it, there has been no evidence of a decrease in reported crime. The fact that the United States continues to exercise the death penalty, with one of the highest rates of homicide in the world, is very ironic (Potter 1997). Potter also presents some statistics that shows readers reality: A massive study which tracked the post-release behavior of 6,835 male prisoners serving sentences for homicide offenses who were paroled from state institutions, found that only 4.5% of them were subsequently convicted of another crime and only 0.31% committed another homicide (Sellin, 1980). This means that for every 323 executions we might prevent one additional murder (Potter 1997). These numbers are eye opening to those who support the sentence. Baron addresses that deterrence is not effective. He states that people who are caught and punished one hundred percent of the time might be discouraged to perform the misdemeanor again. But on the other hand, if criminals think they can out smart the system or have a chance to get away with crime, they will not change their actions because of the potential of the death penalty....
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