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Some countries have the death penalty built in their constitution. In their point of view, they prevent another murder. On the other hand, some do not recognize the death penalty as a part of their code. In fact, they believe that there are no rights for humans to take other human lives this should be regarded as legalized murder. The question one has to ask is: is capital punishment the best solution for murder? This research will discuss and examine the pros and cons of the death penalty from the perspective of cost and effectiveness of this punishment. We should also provide some sort of after-care for the families of victims and families of the accuted.
(Daily Record advisory Board, 2004) The death penalty can execute innocent people. The article supported its point by saying that human beings are not perfect and they are always subject to fall in mistakes. Some people agree on the death penalty call, but only when the government can ensure that no innocent people die. Since 1973, 117 people subsequently were freed from jail after they had received the death penalty sentence. This was the result of some errors of identification, inexact laboratory evidence, police misbehavior, and false witness testimony. Moreover, the writer presented another supporting idea that states that the death penalty is not the final solution to deterring murders. However, Rosenzweing (2002) says that if we abolish the death penalty, we would be devaluating the victims' lives.
In addition, the author says that there are 15 to 30 cases found innocent, and they were released from the death penalty. This number represents only 0.3 percent of the total similar cases since 1973 before they were executed. In fact, the government tries to ensure that whoever is sentenced to death is guilty.
Many people have been sentenced to death by legal authorities who believe that after collecting enough evidence, a particular person deserves to die. In fact, in 1972, around 70% of the adult American population voted for the continuation of the death penalty for those who were convicted of murder crimes, (Bohm, 2003). Later on, in 1994, the percentage increased to almost 80%. Many surveys regarding the death penalty had been conducted in the United States in the early 1930's. For example, a survey was made on a convict, called Bruno Hauptman who was accused of kidnapping and killing a baby resulted in 60% of the total votes supporting his death sentence while only 40% thought there was not enough evidence against the convict or were originally against the whole idea of capital punishment. Moreover, the people back then never hesitated about the law that allows executing a person who has committed murder, raped a child or any of these huge crimes. Therefore, it was clear for everyone where the end of the line would be if committing any of those crimes and thus, the number of such violence acts was reduced for a while.
Some of the families who suffered the loss of their loved ones at the hands of criminals usually find some comfort and justice in death penalty sentence. However, other families will have the sense that those who killed their loved ones are living in prison and might have the chance to kill again, whether inside prison or outside, if they managed to be let out on parole or even escape. For example, in 1997, after catching the bomber of Oklahoma City Timothy McVeigh, many of the families' victims insisted on watching the killer die due to the mixture of feelings of vengeance and comfort that such horrible killers were to be eliminated from their society as stated by Brownlee & McGraw (1997). In other words, the families felt that by approving the killing of that man, they would be honoring innocent victims who had killed, and there was no more space for forgiveness left to give to the killer. However, (Anderson, 2003) sets that the possibility of rehabilitation is removed by the death penalty. While there is a good chance that we can reform the criminals to be actives in society.
One of the main goals of capital punishment is to prevent major crimes from happening again. In other words, executed murderers can be set as an example for any person with an incentive to kill or commit a crime. A study by Bailey (1980) of State University concludes that for legal action to be effective towards deterrence to crime, it must include the following; it must be exact and solid, must have a level of certainty and it must be administered to the public. As a result of death penalty sentence, for every execution that is applied, seven to eight fewer murders occur per year (Bailey, 1980).
Prison is no different from our regular lives in terms of layers of society and state of living. Furthermore, there are as many wealthy and powerful prisoners as there are poor and weak ones. The same goes with prisoners sentenced to death. (Philips ,2009), of the Department of Sociology and Criminology, University of Denver, explains in his article how wealthy prisoners have the power to higher first class attorneys who have the ability to save them from capital punishment. On the other hand, poor prisoners do not have the cash to provide smart attorneys, but take those assigned to them by the court assigned and they usually end up receiving the death sentence. Moreover, many claims have been issued against Harris County in Texas State regarding appointing a defender office that specifically works with death sentence cases in order to equalize prisoners who are sentenced with the death penalty. However, money buys anything most of the time, and thus wealthy prisoners will always find a way to escape the death sentence they probably deserve.
People often ignore what happens to the families of prisoners sentenced to death during and after the execution. Nation Company, a well-known newspaper in the U.S. discusses Troy Davis, a convicted murderer sentenced to death and how his family suffered throughout the procedure built in the court and until the time he was executed (Marlowe, 2012). The newspaper talked about the suffering of Troy's family after his execution in terms of financial and social issues. For example, after the decision to execute Troy, his mother passed away two weeks later because her weak heart could not stand the trauma.
Also, Troy's wife suffered from breast cancer and she had to be hospitalized, leaving their son alone with tons of bills to pay and no adult to take care of him. Moreover, the family had huge debts because they had borrowed to pay for the fight for Troy's life. In other words, Troy's family suffered during his trial, and was broke entirely after his death, leaving his 7 year old son to suffer from both mental and financial problems at such a young age.
One of the downsides of the death penalty is the cost the state incurs to terminate convicted murderers. In 1993 California State showed that it cost at least 1.5 million U.S. dollars to perform executions for convicted murders every year. Also, the procedures which convicts go through such as the trial, attorneys and public announcements cost even more to the state, (Eddlem, 2002). Also, many criminals on death row are in financial liquidation and therefore, in order for the court to continue its trail, it has to cover all the expenses that relate to the case, not mentioning the stay of the prisoners until the trails ends. Another viewpoint regarding this issue is raised by (Sjostrom, 2005). The writer explains in depth with economical computation how the cost of death penalty has an actual impact on the economic growth in a sense that such costs have no actual return to make up the losses. Moreover, the author also pays an attention for costs other than money. For example, the trails which take place in order to completely convict a criminal for death penalty sentence take a lot of time and effort given by the judges, jury and lawyers spending huge period of time on the death penalty cases since they are dealing with dead or alive situations.
In numbers, it costs California around 100,000 U.S. dollars to house prisoners with death sentence since they are being kept separately from the general prison. Also, the trails made for prisoners who weren't able to pay cost more than 250 Million Dollar over the past 27 years which is a big amount of money that was spent on people who were sentenced to eventually die. Also, the public defendant had its own cost which hit around 11.3 million for same period of time as the trails (Rone Tempest, Los Angeles Times, 2005). To sum up, the following table shows the difference between regular criminals and criminals on death row in terms of how much they cost California:
Legend for Chart:
A - LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
B - DEATH PENALTY
Trial $900,000 $2.7 million
Longer trial, additional legal staff,
Expert witnesses, and extra security
Direct appeal $105/hour $140/hour
State pays capital defense attorneys
More, and their workload is bigger.
Habeas corpus $0 $200,000/year
State provides lawyers to death-row
Inmates, but not lifers.
Incarceration $35,000/year $125,000/year
Death-row inmates get their own
Cells and extra guards. They spend
An average of 20 years on death row.
Last meal and $0 $50 maximum
Execution (meal); $90
Other expenses that we are expending in the death penalty cases are prisoners' needs such as food, medication, and education. I will present the names of some of the convicts who were sentenced to death after the majority agreement of the adult U.S. population as well as the legal authorities. Dalton Prejean, Curtis Harris, and Joseph John Cannon committed their crime at age of 17 and they finally executed at 30, 31, and 38 so they spent 13, 14, and 21 years in prison witting to die sequentially. Thus, the government spent money a long 48 years on three prisoners who are on death row without any benefit from waiting (Streib, 2002).
Another point, would like to make concerns the two families involved in murder crimes. Families of both victims and murderers suffer from the tragedy of the murder itself plus the death penalty sentence. Many states have looked into this issue and came up with possible solutions to heal the wounds of the families with lost loved once. For example, in this article (Anderson, 1906) suggests healing conferences and groups made to provide the families with a way of getting over their traumas, and also provide any necessary help. Moreover, Anderson says in the article that these conferences help the families seek forgiveness in a way that the victim family would be able to forgive themselves and believe that justice has taken its right path for their loved one. Also the murderer's family will be able to forgive their loved for the things they have done, and they can move on with their lives.
In other words, these conferences do their best to eliminate all the hate and feeling of payback from the families of the victims and also sympathize with families of the murderers for they have no responsibility for the killer's actions. Thus, lots of physiatrists are heading the meetings and they make sure they do everything possible to make these families recover from their tragedies.
In conclusion, the research has discussed the effectiveness and the costs of the death penalty sentence. Two expert groups of the death penalty have different viewpoints. The first group is refusing the idea of the death penalty. They believe that the human soul is more important than any other materialistic perspective. Also prisoners have their rights to get a second chance to correct their mistakes. However, the other group is supporting the death penalty. They sets that the death penalty is a way to honor victims' lives, and to protect innocents from the murders. Keeping the murders in prisons costs the government too much, so if the government executes the murder it can spend that money on poor people. I agree with the second group of experts. The death penalty is the best way to deter the murders, and by the death penalty criminals will avoid killing people because they know that if police catch them they will be executed.