9 November 2012
Reward or Punishment?
"The right to life and dignity are the most important of all human rights and this must be demonstrated by the state in everything that it does, including the way it punishes criminals.” - Justice Arthur Chaskalson. The death penalty is considered, “the legal” punishment for a criminal. Although the death penalty has been used for many years, the thought of it continues to bring shivers down the back of most of society. Even though there has been an abundant of debates whether it should be abolished or not, citizens do not really know the facts behind it. Most of the society assumes that the death penalty is less expensive than life in jail without parole. United States citizens believe that this punishment will eliminate any revenge thoughts and therefore increase public safety. Being a factor of death, it should not be taken as lightly as it has been. Although sentencing the death penalty may seem the proportional punishment to a brutal crime, it is not a good alternative, because the cost of execution hurts our economy, it lacks closure for victims, and it violates the U. S. Constitution. Most of society assumes that the death penalty is less expensive than to keep a criminal in jail for life. Little did they know that it actually costs the U.S. less for a criminal to live in prison than to be executed. According to Dellapiana author of “Should We Put the Death Penalty on the Chopping Block?” not only is there cost for pre-trials, trials and courts but there is “additional costs amounting to $4.2 Million per death penalty” (Dellapiana 1). It is high priced because “the consequences or error and procedural unfairness are magnified when life is in the balance; thus, courts have imposed astringent due process protections.” (Dellapiana 1) Being in really tough economic times, wasting all that money on the death penalty seems inappropriate. All that money wasted on murdering someone, could might as well be used somewhere else in a productive manner. Dieter believes and states “the death penalty in the U.S. is an enormously expensive and wasteful program with no clear benefits. All of the studies on the cost of capital punishment conclude it is much more expensive than a system with life sentences as the maximum penalty.” (Dieter 2). The money accumulated to be used in the death penalty is desperately needed in other important programs. For example, “In Florida, the courts have lost 10% of their funding, with another cut expected, as home foreclosures accelerated. Philadelphia is leaving 200 police positions unfilled. In New Hampshire, civil and criminal jury trials were halted for a month to save money; in one county, 77 criminal trials were delayed for up to six months.” (Dieter 12). Clearly showing the United States is greatly affected by the death penalty. By the absence of the money needed for jobs, it has been forced to cut jobs strongly needed to protect society. As it can be seen, all the money spent on the death penalty is crucially affecting the economy. The process of following through the death penalty is lengthy; an entire appeal process can take more than 15 years before executions take place and in some cases it never goes through. “Sentences or convictions can be reversed, defendants may die of natural causes or suicide, governors occasionally grant clemency, and entire statutes can be overturned by the courts.” (Dieter 28). Meaning, most of the sentences don’t result in an execution, which only consumed an exaggerated amount of money when the process is over. Not only is the appeal high priced, pre-trials and trials only add much more money to the high amount already accumulated. Instead of finding a more appropriate approach, society spends millions of dollars into a system that doesn’t produce results. Although many citizens do believe the death penalty is effective, they also believe the price is...
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