The idea of your life for a life; the vast majority of our population is in favor of the death penalty. For thousands of years it has been used as a punishment for crimes. Through government for crimes against the State to churches for crimes against their religions, “Impositions of the death penalty is extraordinarily rare. Since 1967 there has been one execution for every 1600 murders or 0.06%. There have been approximately 560,000 murders and 358 executions from 1967-1996.” (UCR) As we continue the war on crime, two factors stand out: Ending all crime is impossible but controlling it is a must. Regardless of the voices of the Anti-Death Penalty Movement, the only control is deterrence, the only deterrence is control. With all the statistics on deterrence, economic ramifications and secure limitation on allowed appeals. The death penalty should remain the United States primary weapon against capital crime.
Is the death penalty a successful deterrent and does it save the lives of innocent citizens? A question raised and argued for years in the past and still in the spotlight. For justice to be deterring, the severity of the punishment must outweigh the crime. With life in prison without the possibility of parole an inmate has no care if he kills again. This is very evident considering, “at the roughly 52,000 state prison inmates serving time for murder in 1984, an estimated 810 had previously been convicted of murder and had killed 821 persons and following their previous murder convictions. Executing each of these inmates would have saved 821 lives.” (41, 1 Stanford Law Review, 11/88, Pd 153)
We can then look at the number of convicted murderers that are either released too soon due to cases being overturned based on past conviction. New laws brought on by judicial decisions in other cases or even escape. It’s not the executions that reduce murder rates but the reduction of the number of murders.
Many other factors are argued about the death penalty including but not limited to the cost of life without parole “LOWP” vs. the death penalty. Opponents present, as facts, that the death penalty is so expensive (at least $2 million per case), that we must choose life without parole at a cost of $1 million for 50 years.
Without a doubt the up front costs of the death penalty are higher than for an equivalent LWOP cases. There is also no question that over time “LWOP” cases become much more expensive.
JFA states that in these estimates “It should be noted that we were intentionally generous in minimizing life costs within our analysis…JFA. As you have seen here more controversy on why opponents feel the death penalty should be abolished but when totaled up and a limitation being established for how long an inmate can stall his execution then that cost would be lower. Here it is shown that the death penalty is also an economically balanced way to deal with those who commit capitol crimes (JFA).
In our United States Constitution an individual whose trial resulted in a guilty verdict has the right to appeal his case. Our system at this time has no limits on the amount of appeals an individual is entitled to, and this is why the average death row inmate sits with hopes of an overturned appeal to change their sentence to life imprisonment instead of death. What kind of deterrence is the sentence of death when a convicted felon has so many opportunities to delay or lessen the punishment for the crime they committed? In 1996 President Clinton signed the Effective Death Penalty and Anti-terrorist Bill. “It is designed to limit the appeal time frame after a death sentence verdict” (DeRienzo). The Opponents bring up Amendment rights in the Constitution and thus this is still under debate but what about the rights of the victim? Where is the justice giving a convicted murderer the rights they took away from another. In the years since the Supreme Court re-instituted the death penalty through 1994, there have been approximately 467,000 homicides in the United States. Based on that number, 2.8 people will die every hour at the hands of another person. (JFA) Death row inmates are often on death row for years, some upwards of twenty years. This is paid for with the taxpayers’ money.
While in prison, inmates have many privileges, including cable television, the chance to pursue a college degree, and free health care, all at our expense. It is appalling to think these people have a life of leisure while in prison. There are even some death penalty opponents who believe that these convicts serving “LWOP” aren’t treated fair and deserve better living conditions and more rights. Lost in this passionate pursuit of human rights are the rights of the dead victim and those of that victim’s family. The appeal process is lengthy and time-consuming. The death penalty informs society that by committing capital crimes, your rights do change and you will suffer the same fate.
Through out time many aspects of the death penalty have proven that it can be a deterrent for would-be murderers where by it does save lives. Not possible for all but some families get a sense of closure from the grief and anger brought forth by the loss of a loved one. “Those who commit vicious crimes destroy the basis on which a moral community rests and forfeit their rights to citizenship and even life itself” (Cauthen)
Simply put locking a murderer up for life doesn’t do the trick. The laws change, people forget and parole boards’ change too, this seams to deteriorate with a life in prison sentence. As long as a murderer lives no matter how small a chance, he will probably strike again. Expediting the execution process gives the family of the victim’s closure. To have the process drawn out for years only keeps the pain fresh and life for them is on hold until justice is served. Furthermore it is an insult to them to put the rights of a murderer over the rights of the victim. The convict demonstrated a lack of regard for human life by taking the life of another. The basic premise of human intelligence is the ability to reason and make decisions. This person made a conscious decision to take a life. Regret and remorse will not change the outcome of those actions. This person does not deserve the life comfort found in today’s prisons.
As you have read here today’s judicial system seems to forget about the victims in these heinous crimes to humanity by criminals and almost reward them by supporting them for the rest of their lives. Justice is in the eyes of those that are law abiding not those that break the law. This is why I feel that the death penalty is the best deterrent, it is pro-economic and with limits on appeals, Innocent people will live and capitol crime will have capital punishment.