The death penalty cannot be called moral, because taking another human life in such a fashion is not moral. Also, there is always the risk that an innocent mans life may be taken. Now I ask you, is taking an innocent mans life moral. The discriminate way the death penalty is given to minorities is not a socially acceptable occurrence, especially in today s society. Last of all, the death penalty is an uneconomical practice, and wastes valuable social resources in a steady stream of court costs that seem never-ending. When you look at all these circumstances combined, it is futile to argue for the death penalty. The facts shown stand against it. In the end, the death penalty looks to be nothing but legalized murder, and there is no other solution but to execute the death penalty once and for all.
Any punishment should contribute to the reduction of crime; accordingly, the punishment for a crime should not be so idle a threat or so slight a deprivation that it has no deterrent or incapacitative effects. Most of all, it certainly should not contribute to an increase in crime.(Bedau 259) Does the death penalty really deter crime. The death penalty lobby wants you to believe the answer to that question is yes. But, in fact, it is a resounding no. there is a wide consensus among Americans top criminologists that the death penalty does, or can do, little to reduce rates of criminal violence. The United States is the only Western nation that still allows the death penalty, and we also have one of the highest crime rates. During the 1980s, the death penalty states averaged an annual rate of 7.5 criminal homicides per 100,000, while abolition states averaged a rate of 7.4 per 100,000. That means that murders were actually more common in states with the death penalty.
Also, in a nationwide survey of police chiefs and sheriffs, capital punishment was ranked last as a way of reducing violent crime. Only twenty-six percent thought that the death penalty significantly reduces the number of homicides. There is no hard evidence that proves the death penalty has a deterrent effect on criminal violence. Governor William Weld of Massachusetts bolsters his belief of the deterrent effect of the death penalty with data from his gut. Also, Ken Nunneley, an Alabama assistant attorney general in charge of the states capital litigation division, obtains his data from the same source. My gut tells me it has a deterrent, let me put it that way. Whether or not the or use of the death penalty is, has been, or could be a deterrent to homicide is a huge question that can not be on the basis of gut feelings. In the following research project, Michael L. Radelet and Ronald L. Akers sent out questionnaires to seventy former presidents from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, American Society of Criminology, and the Law and Society Association.
The presidents were asked to answer some general questions on the basis of your knowledge of the literature and research in criminology.The questions asked were relating to deterrence issues. When asked if they believe or feel that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder or that it lowers the murder rate. Among the sixty-four that responded to the questions, fifty-six or 87.5 percent believe the death penalty does not have a deterrent effect on possible murderers or murder rates. These results chip away at the most important justification for the death penalty.(RadeletAkers 2-3) I believe the reason the death penalty is not a deterrent, is because murderers do not examine risk/reward charts before they kill someone. If a criminal was in a rational state of mind, life imprisonment should be enough to deter them. The fact is, most criminals are not in a rational state of mind. Besides, no criminal commits a crime if he believes he will be caught.
There are many moral arguments against the death penalty, that should make us think twice about our reasons for supporting it. The first is the execution of innocent people. As former Supreme Court justice Harry Blackmun said,the execution of an innocent person comes perilously close to simple murder. In fact, it is simple, and one of the most awful aspects of capital punishment. It is impossible to calculate the risk that an innocent person will be executed, but the risk is not zero, as the record of convicted, sentenced, and executed innocents shows. Since 1900, twenty-three people who we now know to be innocent have been murdered by the state. Three hundred and fifty people have been found not guilty while in death row awaiting execution. Yet, the death penalty lobby continues to support this slaughter of innocent people.
The second argument is, does the government have the right to kill? Of course we all know the government has the right to self defense, such as, a policeman firing on an armed and dangerous criminal feeling on an armed and dangerous criminal. If we apply the same standards to civilians that we have for the government. A civilian has the right to shoot an intruder as he is entering his home. What if the civilian catches the intruder, incapacitates him, and has him under his control, then shooting the intruder would be considered murder. That is what capital punishment is simple murder.
The next argument that I would like to address is, is there a difference between state killing and murder? The end result is the same; one more dead body, one more set of grieving parents, and one more cemetery plot. Every time we execute someone, we send a very confusing message to the American people about the value of human life. Every time we allow an execution, we as a society sink to the same level as the common killer. the people of the United states have blood on their hands, and it will stay there until we end this horrid practice.
The final moral argument is that the death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment. It is torture to keep someone locked up when they know they are waiting to be killed. To paraphrase Camus, there is no equal retribution unless the convicted felon imprisoned his victim for years, and everyday informed him the date of his death. Also, the methods of executing people have all been found to be excessively cruel. It often takes ten minutes or more for a felon to die in the electric chair. The only methods that is known not to be painful is lethal injection, about which we know very little.
The death penalty is full of many abuses, but the most obvious is racial abuse. A 1990 report released by the federal governments General Accounting Office found a pattern of evidence indicating racial disparities in the charging, sentencing, and imposition of the death penalty. Professor David Baldus examined sentencing patterns in Georgia in the 1970s. After reviewing over 2,500 homicide cases in that state, controlling for nonracial factors, he concluded that a person acaccused of killing a white was 4.3 times more likely to be sentenced to death than a person accused of killing a black.
Also, Stanford Law Review published a study that found similar patterns of racial disparity, based on the race of the victim, in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Virginia. For example, in Arkansas, findings showed that defendants is a case involving a white victim were three and a half times more likely to be sentenced to death; in Illinois, four times; in North Carolina, 4.4 times; and in Mississippi, five times more likely to be sentenced to death than defendants convicted of killing blacks.
The death penalty is not now, nor ever has been, a more economical alternative to life imprisonment, said Spangenberg and Walsh in an article in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. A study by the NY State Defenders Association showed that the cost of capital trial alone is more than double the cost of life imprisonment. In Maryland, a comparison of capital trial costs with and without the death penalty for the years 1979-1984 concluded that a death penalty case costs approximately forty-two percent more than a case resulting in a non-death sentence, according to the federal governments Accounting Office. In 1988 and 1989 the Kansas legislature voted Against reinstating the death penalty after it was informed that reintroduction would involve a first year cost of more than eleven million dollars.
All these facts summed up show that the death penalty is not for America. All it does is bring down our morale and our dignity. It shows that we have no respect for human life, just like murderers. I hope that someone will read my essay and put the death penalty to sleep for good.