The institution of capital punishment is one wherein convicted criminals are put to death as penance for their crime. Some believe that it is an effective deterrent against committing crimes of a severe nature, such as murder – they think that, if the threat of ending their life can stop the crime from happening in the first place, it should remain an institution. However, the flawed nature of the current criminal justice system makes it so that many innocent people are put to death on a regular basis. With this in mind, capital punishment is a horrible injustice upon part of our society and should be put to a stop.
There are currently thirty-four states in the United States of America that have the death penalty as an option; as of 2011, 1,254 people have been put to death through capital punishment (Deathpenalty.org, 2011).
The criminal justice system carries with it substantial flaws as it stands today; this particularly stands true where it stands with race and the death penalty. An overwhelming percentage of the cases of death row inmates are African-American, and racial discrimination has often contributed to the false imprisonment and/or execution of a criminal (Deathpenalty.org, 2011). In cases with white victims, a defendant is 3.5 times more likely to be given the death penalty if convicted. With this discrimination in mind, there are a lot of false imprisonments and sentences to death row; more than 130 people have been proven innocent while on death row and subsequently released (Deathpenalty.org, 2011).
DNA testing and other types of evidence, particularly with advancing investigative technology, are often able to exonerate people who have been on death row for years, if not decades, before the technology was made available. In the event that further technology advances clear other inmates, even if existing methods seemingly prove their guilt, there is no reason to believe that the method simply hasn’t existed yet to free a potential death row inmate (Innocence Project, 2011). Even the notion of the death penalty being a deterrent is somewhat false; 88% of criminologists believe that the existence of a death penalty provides no positive change on the likelihood of murders occurring (Deathpenalty.org, 2011).
Besides the apparent lack of certainty regarding the criminal justice system, the death row process itself is a costly one to taxpayers. In fact, it costs nearly $250 million dollars to maintain the system, much more than it would cost to keep the inmates in jail for life without parole – this money could go toward law enforcement budget shortfalls, thereby giving police the resources to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place (Survivor Petition, 2011).
With these things in mind, it is clear that the death penalty is abhorrent. It is an ineffective means of bringing criminals to justice, it is costing the taxpayers far too much, and it has the chance of putting innocent people to death. If the death penalty were to be eliminated, the state would spend far less money, innocent men would have a better chance at being exonerated before an execution, and there would be few negative consequences to crime statistics throughout the country.
Dear Members of the New York State Legislature,. (n.d.). New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (Gdmission). Retrieved June 8, 2011, from http://www.njadp.org/forms/signon-survivor.html
Death Penalty Information Center. (n.d.). Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved June 8, 2011, from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/
The Innocence Project – Home. (n.d.). The Innocence Project – Home. Retrieved June 8, 2011, from http://www.innocenceproject.org/