Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment Capital Punishment Capital punishment is punishment by death for committing a crime. Since the early 1800’s, most executions have resulted from convictions for murder. The death penalty has also been imposed for other serious crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping, rape and treason. People disagree about whether capital punishment is moral or is effective in discouraging crime. Questions that are most often argued when discussing capital punishment fall into three categories: Does capital punishment save money? Does capital punishment strike fear into offenders, saving innocent lives by deterring would-be killers? What does capital punishment mean to an innocent person wrongly accused? Capital punishment definitely does not save money. It actually cost more than any other penalty.

Dan Cutrer has used tow Texas counties to quote estimated costs of capital trials as compared to non-capital trials. These counties estimated the cost of a capital trial between $400,000 and $600,000. When the cost of a non-capital trial, which is around $75,000, is subtracted from the cost of the capital trail, the median of the two estimates is $425,000 to try each capital defendant. Assume that the juries will pass a death sentence in 80% of all capital trials, and the appeal courts will continue to over turn about 30% of all death sentences. This means that about 50% of all capital trials will result in an actual execution.

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The actual cost of each execution, counting only the initial trial costs, comes at $850,000. Therefore, capital punishment does cost more than any other penalty exacted by the criminal justice system. Even these estimates, which reflect only the cost of the original trials, and not appeals, death row housing, or execution cost, prove that capital punishment does not save money (Capital .. ). The idea that capital punishment discourages or prevents criminals from committing crimes is based on a simple assumption that most people fear death. Therefore, the threat of capital punishment will influence criminals to refrain from committing crimes.

Unfortunately, this assumption is incorrect. Starting with the simplest of statistics, if capital punishment reliably prevented murder, countries with capital punishment should generally have a lower murder rate then countries without. However, this does not occur (Capital .. ). The homicide rate in Canada has gradually been dropping since executions were stopped.

This has also been seemed to be true in many other countries that have abandoned the death penalty (Robinson). As of in the United States, states that use the death penalty tend to have higher number of homicides than states that do not use it. Some statistics written in The Fence say that while there has been a nationwide increase in the number of executions, there has not been much of a change in murder rates. The murder rate was 8.8 in 1976, when the death penalty was made legal. From 1976-1995, the murder rate has fluctuated between 7 and 10.

In 1995 there were fifty-six executions and the murder rate was at 8, which is where it started in 1976. This little bit of a change means that there is very little deterrence (Mullen). One of the most dominant arguments against capital punishment involves the obvious risk of executing an innocent person. It seems the most serious concern for Americans involves the possibility of an innocent person compelled into a plea bargain by the threat of a capital prosecution. No jurisdiction enforcing a death sentence can avoid the possibility of an innocent person wrongly accused, convicted, or executed.

The real question is not whether the use of capital punishment will result in the execution of an innocent person, but when and how often. Few people argue the basic facts, and almost everyone agrees the courts have convicted innocent people in error. In the United States, American courts have released sixty-nine people sentenced to death in error since 1973. What if there were more innocent people that should have been released that were not and were executed due to error (Capital .. ). Picking and choosing among the available facts does in fact make a compelling case made for either side. Though, looking at all of the available facts with any impartiality can only conclude that the evidence as a whole does not support the debate of capital punishment.

The cost of capital punishment is highly expensive as compared to other penalties, it does not prevent murder and it risks executing the innocent. Legal Issues.


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