In the justice system, there comes a time or two when a criminal is sentenced to the death penalty. It takes a huge amount of evidence to convict and sentence a criminal to this kind of capital punishment. Not only does the criminal spend time awaiting lethal injection when it is their time to serve out their sentence, but the criminal also has to wait on average twelve years for this sentence (Death Penalty Information Center 2013). During this time (up to twelve years) the criminal is confined to a single cell by themselves for an average of twenty-three hours a day (Death Penalty Information Center 2013). Only having one hour a day with people is considered extreme isolation for the criminals on death row. The extreme isolation the criminals withstand on death row can easily cause mental illness. Death row criminals do not have the same rights as other criminals and are not able to receive education training or be able to work (Death Penalty Information Center 2013). Death row criminals cannot do anything besides wait, which is an average of twelve years. This is a major problem with this type of capital punishment. Criminals who have been sentenced to the death penalty should receive their punishment within a year of conviction because it would reduce the criminals’ time in isolation, reduce overpopulation issues within prisons, and it brings closure to the victims’ families in a more reasonable time. There is a major overpopulation issue within prisons nationwide, due to the amount of criminals on death row. Since the criminals on average wait up to twelve years or more to receive the capital punishment of the death penalty, the overpopulation of prisons is mainly due to a very large number of death row inmates. There are about seven hundred criminals on death row right now, just in the state of California alone (Correctionsone.com 2013). Also since 1977, in California, there have only been thirteen actual executions from the death penalty (Correctionsone.com 2013). This has caused overpopulation to increase dramatically over the last few years nationwide. In other states the overpopulation rate has increased so quickly since 1977, that it has caused other states to send the death row criminals to California and Texas (Correctionsone.com 2013) where they have the capacity to handle the overpopulation of criminals. Moving criminals to another state is just a minor solution for a major problem. If criminals who have been sentenced to the death penalty receive their punishment within a year of conviction, the problem with overpopulation in prisons would be solved. The average twelve years of time the criminal has to wait on death row is extreme; this is to give the court system time to gather more evidence after a conviction has already been made, and the sentence for capital punishment has already been decided. The extreme conditions the criminals face during their time on death row is in fact a second round of punishment in itself. Criminals on death row have been exposed to prolonged isolation for years. As a result of the one hour a day on average spent outside of their single cells, most criminals establish exacerbating mental illnesses. In a recent study by a psychologist named Craig Haney, two-thirds of criminals talk to themselves and nearly half suffer from a mental illness or a combination of mental illnesses such as perception disorder, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts (Death Penalty Information Center 2013). Psychologist Haney has also found that two of the five longest-serving inmates on death row which have been there for over thirty years are suffering from a mental disorder or multiple mental disorders (Death Penalty Information Center 2013). Yes, death row is not supposed to be a walk in the park, some would say, but it does not have to be inhumane either. Therefore this is causing criminals to wait on average of twelve years to receive the punishment of death, which does not have to have an additional punishment of basically losing their minds in the process of waiting for death to occur. If criminals who have been sentenced to the death penalty receive their punishment within a year of conviction, this second round of inhumane isolation causing mental illnesses would be avoided. Due to the amount of time the criminal on death row waits to receive punishment, the victims and family members must wait a lengthy amount of time to really get the closure they deserve. Once the victim and family members get out of the very long court trial and know the criminal was found guilty and is convicted to receive the death penalty, it takes on average about twelve years or more to see the criminal serve the sentence (Death Penalty Information Center 2013). The victim and family members go through a lot during the time the criminal waits on death row, due to the psychological stress the criminal has created. The victims and family members want to see justice served for the horrific crime the criminal has inflicted on their family in general. The thoughts of what could possibly happen are always being thought of in the victims mind. Even though the criminal on death row is in solitary confinement, the victim and family members will continue to worry until the criminal finally receives the capital punishment of death. If criminals who have been sentenced to the death penalty receive their punishment within a year of conviction, the victims and family members would get closure sooner and could try to move towards the bright future ahead. One reason for having a convicted criminal wait such a long period of time before the sentence is carried out can be to allow time to review evidence using new technology and be sure the criminal is actually guilty. New technology has proven to become a more effective way to prove criminals innocents many years later. However this technology can be used to review evidence in a much shorter time period. There is a large enough time frame, on average about twelve years between the day of conviction and the day the criminal actually receiving there punishment. While an average trial for a criminal seeking death penalty is two and a half years long (Death Penalty Information Center 2013), there should be no doubt in any one’s mind whether the criminal is innocent or guilty in any way. In addition to time, the trial for seeking a death penalty conviction costs an average of $620,932 (Death Penalty Information Center 2013). This amount of time and money spent on the trial alone should make every person involved in the trial certain of what crime has been committed and the punishment for the crime that was committed. The jury members who convict the criminals to receive the death penalty should not agree to a sentence or conviction if there is any doubt whatsoever. This is a life and death situation, literally and should be taken very seriously by everyone involved. The rise of new technology makes the average of twelve years for a criminal on death row unnecessary. Criminals who have been sentenced to the death penalty should receive their punishment within a year of conviction because of overpopulation issues within prisons, the additional punishment of isolation waiting to receive the sentence, and the closure it brings for everyone involved. In conclusion, there are problems that occur from criminals waiting on death row. The government should be implementing solutions to these problems and be able to solve the problems within five years. By making it a mandatory law for criminals who have been sentenced to the death penalty to receive their capital punishment within one year of conviction, it will help decrease the amount of overpopulation in prisons, reduce the criminals’ time in isolation, and allow families of the victims involved to have closure and be able to move forward.
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