As debates on the death penalty continue in the United States, here we take a closer look at public opinion on the issue, as well as key facts about the country`s use of the death penalty. The death penalty not only wastes lives, but also wastes money. Contrary to popular belief, it is much more expensive to execute a person than to imprison them for life. The finality of the death penalty rightly requires that important procedural provisions be made at all stages of the death penalty in order to minimize the likelihood of error. As a result, conducting a single capital case costs about three times more than a person`s prison sentence for their remaining life expectancy, which is about 40 years. Criminals undoubtedly deserve to be punished, and the severity of the sentence should be proportionate to their guilt and the harm they have done to the innocent. But the severity of punishment has its limits – imposed both by justice and by our common human dignity. Governments that respect these limits do not use premeditated violent homicides as an instrument of social policy. The death penalty is contrary to due process. Their imposition is often arbitrary and always irrevocable – it forever deprives a person of the opportunity to benefit from new evidence or new laws that could justify the overturning of a conviction or the annulment of a death sentence. Even if the jury`s verdict were strictly determined by the relevant legal criteria, there remains a huge reservoir of unlimited discretion: the prosecutor`s decision to prosecute a capital crime or a minor crime, the court`s willingness to accept or reject an admission of guilt, the jury`s decision to convict of second-degree murder or manslaughter rather than capital murder.
the determination of the respondent`s mental health and the governor`s final clemency decision, among other things. Minorities are sentenced to death out of proportion to their population. This is not primarily because minorities commit more murders, but because they are more likely to be sentenced to death if they do. But for the death penalty to be applied fairly, we must strive to ensure that the criminal justice system functions as intended. We should all agree that all accused in capital cases should have competent and zealous lawyers to represent them at all stages of the judicial and appeal process. Serving police officers do not experience higher rates of criminal assault and homicide in abolitionist states than in states with the death penalty. Between 1976 and 1989, for example, lethal attacks on police officers were not significantly more or less frequent in abolitionist states than in states applying the death penalty. The death penalty did not appear to offer additional protection to police officers during this period. In fact, the top three states in homicide prosecutions in 1996 were also very active states on the death penalty: California (the highest number of death row inmates), Texas (the highest number of executions since 1976) and Florida (the third highest number of executions and death rows).
The south, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the country`s executions, also has the highest murder rate of any region in the country. On the contrary, the death penalty has called for violence rather than reduction. Most people who have witnessed an execution are horrified and disgusted. «I was ashamed,» writes sociologist Richard Moran, who witnessed an execution in Texas in 1985. «I was an intruder, the only member of the public who had spent the moment deprived of fear [of the convicted man]. On my face, he could see the horror of his own death. Moreover, the death penalty could only be defended for the crime of murder and not for any of the many other crimes that were often subjected to this type of punishment (rape, kidnapping, espionage, treason, drug trafficking). Few supporters of the death penalty are prepared to systematically stick to the narrow framework of reprisals. In any case, execution is more than a punishment inflicted in retaliation for the murder of a life. As Nobel laureate Albert Camus wrote: «For there to be equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date on which it would cause him a terrible death, and who had left him at his mercy for months from that moment. You do not encounter such a monster in your private life. (Reflections on the Guillotine, in Resistance, Rebellion and Death 1960) In addition, studies such as the one commissioned by the governor of Maryland have found that «black offenders who kill white victims are more exposed to the death penalty than others, largely because they are much more likely to be charged by prosecutors with a capital crime.» Today, about 3,350 people are on «death row.» Virtually all are poor, a significant number are mentally disabled, more than 40 percent are African American, and a disproportionate number are Native American, Latino and Asian.
Q: If the execution is unacceptable, what is the alternative? A: NEUTRALIZATION. Convicted murderers can be sentenced to life in prison, as in many countries and states that have abolished the death penalty. Most state laws allow life sentences for murder, which severely limits or eliminates the possibility of parole. Today, 37 states allow juries to sentence defendants to life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty. Q: Have strict procedures eliminated arbitrariness and discrimination in the death penalty? A: No. The poor are also far more likely to be sentenced to death than those who can afford the high cost of private investigators, psychiatrists and criminal justice experts. In fact, the death penalty is «a privilege of the poor,» said Clinton Duffy, former warden of California`s San Quentin prison. Some observers have pointed out that the term «death penalty» is ironic because «only those who do not have the death penalty get the sentence». Today, states have laws that allow the death penalty, as do the military and the federal government.
Several states in the Midwest and Northeast have abolished the death penalty. Alaska and Hawaii have never known the death penalty. The vast majority of executions took place in 10 southern states and more than 35 percent in Texas. In 2004, the supreme courts of Kansas and New York struck down their death penalty laws as unconstitutional, and lawmakers have yet to reinstate them. The death penalty is cruel and unusual. It is cruel because it is a relic of the early days of the penal system, when slavery, marking and other corporal punishment were commonplace. Like these barbaric practices, executions have no place in a civilized society. This is unusual because, of all the Western industrialized nations, only the United States participates in this punishment. It is also unusual because only a random sample of convicted murderers in the United States receives the death penalty. Texas was ready to execute Duane Buck on September 15, 2011.
Mr. Buck was sentenced to death by a jury told by an experienced psychologist he was rather dangerous because he was African-American. The Supreme Court stayed the case, but Mr. Buck has not yet received the new sentence demanded by the judiciary. Since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated the sentence, there have been 1,512 executions, with whites making up the majority of those executed (55%), followed by blacks (34%). Whites make up the majority of victims in death penalty cases (76%), followed by blacks (15%). A majority of Americans have supported the death penalty since the election began in 1938. It is also often argued that death is what murderers deserve, and that those who oppose the death penalty violate the fundamental principle that criminals should be punished according to their righteous desserts – «match punishment to crime». If this rule means that punishments are unjust unless they are like the crime itself, then the principle is unacceptable: it would oblige us to rape rapists, torture torturers and impose other horrific and degrading punishments on perpetrators.