Criminology/ Capital Punishment term paper 17557

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There have been many controversies in the history of the United States. Ranging from abortion to gun control, but capital punishment had been one of the most widely contested issues in recent decades. The questions of fact concerning capital punishment fall into three general areas: does capital punishment save money. Does capital punishment strikes fear into offenders, saving innocent lives by deterring would-be killers? And finally, the courts make mistakes; what does capital punishment mean to an innocent person wrongly accused? Therefore, I opposed capital punishment because it is not a deterrent to murder, it is expensive, and it is unfair.

Critics of capital punishment sometimes argue on utilitarian grounds that the expense involving executions is substantially greater than the cost of life imprisonment. The costs of appeals and legal counseling are the principal expenses. Thus, the extra financial burden of capital punishment contributes to a greater balance of unhappiness vs. happiness. There are three problems with this argument. First, such financial calculations typically do not take into account that much of the legal counseling for death row inmates is propone, which does not cost the taxpayer. Second, even if this is a true description of the cost of capital punishment in the United States and other developed countries, it is not representative of the cost of criminal executions worldwide. Indeed, one might reasonably expect that in many developing countries executions are substantially cheaper than life imprisonment costs (Gottfried 3). Assuming that critics of capital punishment object to its practice in any country, this argument not only lacks universal application, but might in fact be used as an argument in favor of capital punishment in countries with less expensive appeals processes. Finally, even if executing criminals is more costly than life imprisonment, it is not immediately obvious that the extra expense either contributes to a greater balance of social unhappiness or even tips the balance towards unhappiness. Society may actually be pleased with, or at least content with, the value it is getting for its capital punishment dollar. Those who favor capital punishment say that why to keep murder in prison and feed him for the rest of his life from out taxpayers money. Study shows that putting a man for execution is far more expensive then keeping the man for life imprisonment. “Putting a man at execution is six time more expensive then keeping him for life imprisonment” (freedman 2).

There are substantial evidences that capital punishment does not deter crime. The state of Florida is the most executing state with the number the number of executions from year 1973 to 1995, are 870. But why are so many tourists murdered there? These are terrible crimes, committed in the states with the largest death row and the largest score of government sanctioned killings (Liebman 7). In a study conducted by Schiraldi and Godrey on the effects of executions found that there is a 9 percent increase in the murder rates, going from 306 per month before to 333 after the executions. In addition, the nation’s crime rate rose 5% from 1982 to 1991. Like in Taxes for example, they have been executions weekly but the crime rate rose 24% instead and the violent crime rate rose 46% (Winters 4). One of the reasons is that most capital crime is committed in the heat of the moment. They are committed during moments or great emotional stress or under the influence of drug or alcohol, when logical thinking has been impaired. The offenders have no fear what so ever while committed the crime, or after they have committed the crime, because their task has been completed. They prefer to die rather than being put for life imprisonment, as it reduces the agony for them. The classic example of this is the case of Thomas Grasso in 1990. He was arrested for two murders, when the time came for his court order, he said that he preferred to die rather than life imprisonment, and his last words before execution were that regretted getting caught! This proves that he was not at all sorry for his actions and neither had he any fear, which demolishes the whole purpose of capital punishment (Winters 8). I would also like to add the comment of U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno At her weekly Justice Department news briefing. She said that, "I have inquired for most of my adult life about studies that might show that the death penalty is a deterrent. And I have not seen any research that would substantiate that point." The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that the South repeatedly has the highest murder rate. In 1997, it was the only region with a murder rate above the national rate. The South accounts for 80% of executions. The Northeast, which has less than 1% of all executions in the U.S., has the lowest murder rate (Richard 4).

The danger that innocent people will be executed because of errors in the criminal justice system is getting worse. A total of 69 people have been released from death row since 1973 after evidence of their innocence emerged. Twenty-one condemned inmates have been released since 1993, including seven from the state of Illinois alone. Many of these cases were discovered not because of the normal appeals process, but rather as a result of new scientific techniques, investigations by journalists, and the dedicated work of expert attorneys, not available to the typical death row inmate.

These reports tells the stories of people like Rolando Cruz, released after 10 years on Illinois's death row, despite the fact that another man had confessed to the crime shortly after his conviction. Ricardo Aldape Guerra, who returned to Mexico after 15 years on Texas's death row because of a prosecution that a federal judge called outrageous and designed to simply achieve another notch on the prosecutor's guns. The current emphasis on faster executions, less resource for the defense, and an expansion in the number of death cases mean that the execution of innocent people is inevitable. The increasing number of innocent defendants being found on death row is a clear sign that our process for sentencing people to death is fraught with fundamental errors--errors which cannot be remedied once an execution occurs. There is a long list Innocence Freed from Death Row. But most interesting is that Florida is no one state among all other states in releasing innocence people from death row. In 1989 State of Florida released James Richardson from Death Row after 21 years (Richard 2).

Record shows that capital punishment is unfair in its administration therefore poor and minorities are more likely to receive the death penalty. As sister Helen Prejan said in her interview with Jerry Brown, “…when white people get killed, the death penalty is sought fat more often then when people of color are killed. And when people of “status” in the community are killed, a professor in a law school, for example, as opposed to same homeless person the killer get the death penalty” (85). It can’t be disputed badly; the rich are more likely to get off with a lesser sentence, and this bias’s wrong. However, this is yet another problem in our current court system. There is a greater possibility of victims being wrongly accused. Evidence shows that innocent defendants wore convicted in 416 crimes in twentieth century. Two of the countries for most researchers on race and capital punishment, law professor David Baldus and statistician George Woodworth, along with colleagues in Philadelphia, have conducted a careful analysis of race and the death penalty in Philadelphia. This reveals that the odds of receiving a death sentence are nearly four times (3.9) higher if the defendant is black (Richard 3).

Nearly two-thirds of the American public favors capital punishment and Catholics are key supporters of capital punishment. In 1986, Virginia man, Joseph O’Dell, was executed despite the plea for clemency from Pope John Paul II. This man was executed despite the plea for clemency from Pope John Paul II. This man was executed after Governor’s denial of a DNA test that O’Dell claimed would exonerate him (Anderson 5). We can probably expect to continue hearing many churchgoers of whatever denomination referring to the Old Testament phrase, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Helen Prejean says that, “As the bases of their acceptance of the death penalty, seemingly unaware of the Gospels’ different approach” (Anderson 5).

I have stated some of the proofs that there are greater chances of wrongly accusing innocent people for capital punishment. There is greater number of blacks then whites who gets death penalty. Florida State is the top Most State in wrongly accusing innocent people.

Since the revival of the death penalty in the 1975, about half of these on death row are black and when death sentence are examine closely, it turns out that race is decisive factor after all. It should be abolished not only because it is barbaric, but also it defies the U.S constitution which most American hold sacred. In addition the death penalty even if it remains legal in the U.S. it would not obtain its goal which for example the deterrent of crimes. The latest National opinion pool released in conjunction with this report shows that more people in this country would prefer alternative sentence that guarantee both protection and punishment to the death penalty. The only solution for the crime is to find ways on how to prevent them and by actual causes, and thus, make society a better and safe place for all of us.


Works Cited.

Anderson, George M. “Organizing against Death Penalty.” America. 3 January 1998: p10.

Infotrac. 12 June 2000. Keyword: Capital Punishment.

Brown, Jerry. “Disconnection and the Death Penalty: Sister Helen Prejean.” Dialogues California: Berkeley Hill 1998. 79-84.

Freedman, Eric. “The case against the Death Penalty.” USA Today. March 1997: 3-8.

Gottfried, Ted. “The killer who wanted to die.” Capital Punishment The Death Penalty Debate. New Jersey: Springfield, 1997.

Richard, Dieter. C. “Death Penalty information Center.” Essential. June 1998: (15 June 2000).

Winter, Paula. Ed. “Innocent people have been executed.” The Death Penalty

Opposing views. 3rd edition. San Diego, CA: Greehaven, 1997.

Word Count: 1600


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