In don’t have the means to defend themselves,

In the United States of America, a strong debate lives between supporters
and protesters

of capital
punishment, otherwise known as “the death penalty.”  Some states have abolished the

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practice, but
as of August 2017, the punishment still lives in 31 US states.  There are strong

arguments on
both sides of the issue, as many feels there is a need for the punishment to
match

the severity
of crimes, while others feel the practice is barbaric, and people are being put
to death

for crimes,
they did not commit.  Many also feel that
the death penalty is less expensive than

imprisoning
people for life, as in many cases, they have taken the lives of others, and
should be

punished
accordingly, as practiced in Hammurabi’s code with “an eye for an eye.”  Many also

believe that
the death penalty is discriminatory against the poor, who don’t have the means
to

defend
themselves, or that it serves as an act of revenge.  Depending on the religion you practice,

or other
internal beliefs that drive your thought processes, the heated argument for or
against

capital
punishment has divided this country for decades, and there is no signs of
either side

backing down
in the controversy.

There is a long history of statistics that have been tabulated by
the Death Penalty

Information
Center, which can be found at https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/, and here are a few

recent
numbers they have regarding the current state of “Capital Punishment” in the
United

States.  In 2016, 20 people were executed in this
country, which was the lowest number since

1991.  The number of death sentences handed down was
30, which was a 39% decline from 2015,

which was a
40-year low.  As of October 1, 2016,
there were 2,902 people on death row, and

since the
death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, 1,458 people
have

been executed
as of July 28, 2017.  Since 1973, there
have been 159 death row exonerations, with

27 of them
happening in the state of Florida.  This
year, between January 1st, and July 28th, 16

executions
were carried out in seven states.  The
United States Government has executed 4 people since 1963, and the U.S.

government and military have 61 people awaiting execution as of July 25, 2017.

There are 54
women on death row as of October 2016, and 16 women have been executed since
the reinstatement of the death penalty (Death Penalty Information Center., nd).

One of the main arguments in this debate has focused on the cost
of the death penalty.  For those that
support the punishment, they feel that an execution is far less expensive than
paying for the incarceration of the inmate that serves a life sentence without
parole.  On the other hand, those that
oppose the punishment argue that the costs of prosecuting a death penalty case,
keeping an inmate on death row, and the courts handling a 15-20-year appeals
process are astronomical.  According to DeathPenaltyInformationCenter.com,
it costs taxpayers in Florida $51 million a year more to hold an inmate on
Death Row versus holding them for life without parole (Death Penalty
Information Center., nd). In the state of North Carolina, 43 people have been
put to death since 1976, and it cost taxpayers $2.16 million for each
execution.  In Maryland, an estimated $186
million was paid for its last five executions. 
The most expensive state is California, where there is a gap of over $114
million a year in the difference between the cost of keeping death row inmates
versus those serving life without parole.  Since 1976, California has executed 13 people,
and it cost them over $19 million per execution (Death Penalty Information
Center., nd).  Based on this data, it
seems that the argument against the death penalty from a financial standpoint
holds true.

For those against the issue of capital punishment is that there
have been inmates who

were
executed, when they were found innocent of the crimes later on.  This issue resonates on

both sides of
the argument, as nobody wants to have a guilty person be executed for a crime
they

did not
commit.  In Eric’s article,
“AvvoStories,” he talks about people who were executed and later found
innocent.  The first case was in 1915,
where Thomas and Meeks Griffin (two black men), were convicted of murdering a
white man.  In the case, an eye witness blamed
the brothers for the crime.  Later, he
admitted blaming them because they were wealthy, and thought they had the money
to avoid conviction.  The two brothers
were innocent, but were put to death (Eric.,nd).  In 1992, Cameron Todd Willingham was
convicted of murdering his three kids.  He
was executed for the crime of arson, but later on, it was found that there was
improper analysis of the evidence, and the fire was an accident (Eric.,nd).

In the
article, there were six other stories about people that were convicted of
crimes they did not commit, and were put to death. This issue is the strongest
argument against the death penalty that exists today.

With many Americans who support the death penalty, they feel that
the punishment

serves as a
deterrent for committing these grave crimes, and without the ability to execute
these

persons, the
crime rates will increase.  In 2012, the
National Research Council of the National Academies released a report that
contained three decades of research on the death penalty and its effect on
deterring criminals from committing crimes. The report concluded that the
effect of capital punishment on homicide has no link to affecting behaviors one
way or another with future death rates. Furthermore, the study concluded that
the homicide rates, either up or down, should not influence lawmakers to affect
policy on capital punishment (Ehrenfreund., 2014).  Criminologist Daniel Nagin of Carnegie
Mellon, who chaired the panel of experts, said, “We recognize this conclusion will
be controversial to some, but nobody is well served by unfounded claims about
the death penalty” (Ehrenfreund., 2014).  In another article written by Jeffrey Fagan
from Columbia’s Law School, he concludes, “We’re very hard pressed to find
really strong evidence of deterrence.” He adds, however, that states have
been executing fewer and fewer people over the past 15 years. Meanwhile, rates of violent crime are
still falling steadily.  Fagan referenced
New York, where Former Gov. George Pataki (R) reinstated capital punishment in
New York in 1995, and although no prisoners were executed, the law remained in
place until the New York Court of Appeals struck it down in 2004 (Ehrenfreund.,
2014).  This argument has shown to be
inconclusive from either side, as evidence is difficult to deliver on the
matter.

Protestors against the death penalty in the United States argue
that capital punishment

discriminates
against the poor, as they are not able to afford the tremendous cost of
defending

themselves in
the case. But an even larger problem has been with racism, as studies have
definitively concluded that racism has played a major role in who receives the
death penalty. Two professors from Philadelphia, David Baldus and statistician
George Woodworth, along with colleagues in Philadelphia, conducted a study that
connected the issue of race and the death penalty cases in Philadelphia. They
concluded that the odds of receiving a death sentence is 3.9 times higher if
the defendant is a black person

(Death
Penalty Information Center., nd). The data showed that blacks were being sentenced
to death far more often than other defendants for similar crimes. In another
article by Professor Jeffrey Pokorak and researchers at St. Mary’s University
Law School in Texas, they found that, “the key decision makers in death cases
around the country are almost exclusively white men.  Of the chief District Attorneys in counties
using the death penalty in the United States, nearly 98% are white and only 1%
are African-American” (Death Penalty Information Center.,nd). These studies
clearly show that racism exists in the judicial system, and it is possible that
blacks have a greater chance of being sentenced to death for similar crimes
than white people.

Conclusions and Future
Study

In conclusion, the statistical data leads you to believe that the
death penalty should be abolished.  Based
on the facts, it is far more expensive to execute a criminal, than it is to
lock them up in a cell for life without parole.  The process seems to be skewed by racism against
certain groups of people, as the statistics show, so the trials are not being
run fairly.  The evidence of the death
penalty being a deterrent against crime has been inconclusive so far, and many
have been executed, then found innocent after the executions.  However, as referenced by Hammurabi’s Code, I
still believe in, “an eye for an eye.” In many cases, where there is obvious
guilt, and the crimes were terroristic in nature, those individuals should meet
a swift ending to their lives.  The
system is flawed, as it allows for the extension of time through the appeals
process to last 15 to 20 years in some cases.  I understand that this is necessary due
process under our system, to be sure the person is guilty, but something needs
to be done.  If someone has an abundance
of evidence against them for the capital crime, they should be put to death.  If there is a doubt in the guilt or innocence
of the person, then a life sentence without parole should be justified as
proper punishment.

 

References

“The Death Penalty in Black and
White: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides.” The Death

Penalty
in Black and White: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides | Death Penalty
Information Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2017.

Eric,
Author at AvvoStories. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from

http://stories.avvo.com/author/eric

Eric. “8 People Who Were
Executed and Later Found Innocent.” AvvoStories. N.p., 26 Apr.

2017.

            Web. 29 Nov. 2017.

 Ehrenfreund,
M. (2014, April 30). There’s still no evidence that executions deter criminals.

Retrieved November 27, 2017, from Ehrenfreund,
Max. “There’s Still No Evidence That

Executions
Deter Criminals.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 30 Apr. 2014.

Web. 29 Nov. 2017.

“Law Enforcement Views on
Deterrence.” Law Enforcement Views on Deterrence | Death

            Penalty
Information Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2017.

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