Against the Death penalty
Capital punishment has not ceased to be the center of the debate for many decades. This contentious issue has raised arguments for and against capital punishment and its possibility in deterring crime. Being prevalent in the history of many nations, this form of punishment has come to be abolished from the justice systems of many contemporary countries. However, some authorities have upheld this technique in their constitutions due to various reasons. Advocates for this form of punishment in the U.S have continually argued that this method comes handy in serious crimes like homicide that is on the rise and would possibly work to discourage murder in crime-prone areas. Besides, many analysts think that it would serve to protect the lives of many innocent souls in society. However, a careful analysis of the details and statistics of the death penalty reveals a different story. The retributive nature of this form of punishment has come under sharp criticism (Murphy). Critics argue that retribution in the case of murder is obsolete. In essence, it is questionable to teach against the evils of murder while killing such offenders. Capital punishment seems to have taken a double standard kind of approach in administering justice. The costs for this form of justice have proved to be overwhelming as compared to other forms of punishment. Moreover, the justice systems are not perfect and, therefore, prone to human error (Murphy). The possibility of innocent people getting convicted of murder is evident from a few case files in the United States. This essay has sought to examine the various demerits and concerns raised against the application of death as a form of punishment for murder.
The high cost of capital punishment is worth the debate as to whether we should abolish the death penalty and introduce other alternatives to this technique of dealing with serious crime (Costanzo and White). The death penalty is many times more expensive when compared with life imprisonment without parole. The constitution is designed to offer complex and long judicial processes for cases involving capital crime. This design is engineered with the aim of preventing the prosecution and punishment of innocent suspects. But, even with such procedures in place, there is still a possibility of convicting and punishing people that did not commit the crime. Scholars have estimated that death penalty costs millions more compared to other forms of dealing with the crime such as lifelong imprisonment (Costanzo and White). The two serve the same function of eliminating the criminal from the society thereby offering protection to the masses. However, many have questioned the decision of states to uphold capital punishment despite the overwhelming costs. For instance, in California alone, citizens pay close to $90,000 more for each death row inmate compared to the rest of the prisoners on regular confinement. Since the reinstating of the death penalty in this state in 1978, more than 4 billion in dollars has been spent making it a multibillion-dollar entity. Further, it is estimated that this cost may approach 9 billion dollars by the year 2030. This state has been used as a model for exposing the cost of a death penalty and its burden to taxpayers. The endless statistics has cast death penalty into the spotlight with many questioning the merits of such a system when it is way expensive than other better acceptable alternatives for dealing with such crime.
Innocent people have been known to have been wrongly executed for crimes that they did not commit. The justice system is error prone and cannot guarantee perfect sentencing (Yant). Some of the cases have been marred with human error due to the flawed nature of investigations in cases of murder especially those that have had scanty evidence. Moreover, high-profile cases have meant that the prosecution rushes in the investigation and conviction of suspects thereby making the system biased (Yant). Amnesty International has recorded that since the 70s, more than 150 people have been freed from death row after further investigations proved their innocence. 2003 alone recorded a surprising 10 inmates released due to wrongful convictions. The erroneous nature of justice systems has become a nightmare for innocent people who find themselves in the corridors of justice for crimes they did not commit. A good example is drawn from the controversy over the wrongful conviction and ultimate execution of Carlos DeLuna in the year 1989. An investigation concluded in Chicago indicated that Texas may have well executed the wrong person. Carlos was charged with the stabbing and murder of a store clerk in 1983.A tribunal later established DeLuna’s innocence in 2006 after Carlos Hernandez repeatedly confessed of having committed the crime. A close analysis revealed that Hernandez had a similar record making the issue contentious in the context of the justice systems in the United States. Perhaps, DeLuna’s case proves to be the perfect yet demonstration of the punishment of an innocent person through death row.
Finally, many critics have questioned the rationale of administering a death penalty to people known to be mentally handicapped (Murphy). Mentally challenged individuals along with lawfully juvenile individuals have occasionally committed crimes that attract capital punishment. This class of suspects often have exceedingly low IQs and are rarely aware of the seriousness of the crimes they have committed. Juveniles often lack the experience and mental processing power to understand the weight of such issues. In such cases, the value of capital punishment cannot be considered deterrent (Lyn). In fact, in such a case, most people consider this penalty senseless due to the confines associated with such cases. The execution of Robert Ladd exemplifies the execution of a mentally disabled man. Analysts later claimed that his mental IQ was so low that he would be classified as technically being handicapped. He was found guilty of having killed a 38-year-old woman in 1996 and executed through a lethal injection. He was found to have an IQ of 67. During his last moments, after apologizing to the family of the deceased, he is said to have told the warden, ‘’let’s ride’’. Credible sources further record that, as the lethal jab took peak effect, Ladd is recorded to have said to the wardens ‘’ Stings my arm, man.’’
In conclusion, the death penalty has often been seen as a failed method of dealing with capital level crime. Despite the many arguments against this form of punishment, there have always stood out. The cost of the death penalty has proved to be overwhelming to taxpayers in states that is still in practice. Further, due to the flawed nature of the justice system, some innocent people have been wrongfully executed. Most of the cases have arisen in the state of Texas (Murphy). Nonetheless, critics have brought to question the rationale of executing mentally handicapped individuals considering that they do not understand both the weight of the crime and that of the punishment administered to them.
Costanzo, Mark, and Lawrence T. White. “An Overview Of The Death Penalty And Capital Trials: History,
Current Status, Legal Procedures, And Cost”. Journal of Social Issues 50.2 (1994): 1-18. Web.
Entzeroth, Lyn. “Challenge and Dilemma of Charting a Course to Constitutionality Protect the
Severely Mentally Ill Capital Defendant from the Death Penalty, The.” Akron L. Rev. 44 (2011): 529.
Murphy, Russell G. Voices Of The Death Penalty Debate. Lake Mary, FL: Vandeplas Pub., 2010. Print.
Yant, Martin. Presumed Guilty. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1991. Print.