Death Penalty

Death Penalty Virtually every major program designed to address the underlying causes of violence and to support the poor, vulnerable, powerless victims of crime is being cut even further to the bone In this context, the proposition that the death penalty is a needed addition to our arsenal of weapons lacks credibility Scott Harshbarge, Attorney General of Massachusetts Across the United States, police officers are losing their jobs, prisoners are obtaining parole early, courts are clogging with cases, and crime is on the rise. Over two-thirds of the states use capital punishment, which is a grave mistake by any measure of cost effectiveness. The government spends hundreds of millions of dollars in order to punish a few individuals each year. Yet, these actions do nothing to slow the rise in violent crimes. Moreover, the death penalty has been used to portray toughness on crime, but it actually leaves communities worse off in their fight against crime. At the same time that states are pouring money into the capital punishment black hole, lack of funds is also causing the criminal justice system to break down.

Consequently, the public is left with fewer resources, which otherwise could benefit their entire community. Every working person in the United States pays taxes to fund the government. However, is the death penalty a cost-effective way to use the taxpayer’s money? After evaluating the cost of the death penalty and the effects of paying that cost, one would agree that the death penalty is not a cost-effective way to fight crime and thus the government should abolish the death penalty. The death penalty is much more expensive than life imprisonment. In Texas, the death penalty cost taxpayers an average of $2.3 million each year, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years.

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Death penalty trials are also longer and more expensive than ordinary murder trials. A North Carolina study found that death penalty trials take 4 times longer and cost $200,000 more than non-death penalty trials. In California, capital punishment trials are six times more costly than other murder trials. A Kansas study also found that capital punishment trials cost an extraordinary amount more than ordinary murder trials. The irreversibility of the death sentence causes courts to heighten due processing through preparation and through the course of the trial. In the North Carolina study, twenty-four principal areas were identified as the causes of death penalty cases being longer and more expensive. Some of these areas are pre-trial motions, expert witness investigation, jury selection, and the necessity for two trials.

The two separate trials, one for guilt and the other for sentencing, are prime examples of the cost multiplier of pursuing the death penalty. The separate sentencing phase of the trial at times takes even longer than the guilt phase of the trial. Yet, if the death penalty was abolished, all these extra cost would be prevented. The trial itself could at times be avoided because defendants are much more likely to insist on a trial, when they are facing a possible death sentence. That is evident, as shown by the lack of guilty pleas in capital punishment cases. Self-preservation is a natural instinct. Therefore, even after conviction, defendants are constitutionally mandating appeals, which involves both prosecution and defense costs.

Regardless of the outcome, these costs are the norm for every case where the death is sought. So in actuality, the true cost of the death penalty includes all the added expenses of the unsuccessful trials that sought the death penalty but failed to achieve the sentence of death. And to make matters worse, if a defendant is convicted but not sentence to death, the state will still have to pay the price of life imprisonment, in addition to the increased trial expenses. In Florida, each execution costs the state $3.2 million. In California, it was reported that the state could save $90 millions a year if it abolished the death penalty.

The New York Department of Correctional Services estimated that implementing the death penalty would cost the state about $118 million annually. The money that would be spent to implement the death penalty in New York for five years could fund 250 additional police officers and build prisons for 6000 inmates. The costly effect of the death penalty reach farther than the pockets of the taxpayers. The American Bar Association found that the justice system in many parts of the United States is on the verge of collapsing due to inadequate funding. New Jersey, for example, laid off more than 500 police officers in 1991; during the same period of time, New Jersey was also implementing the death penalty, which cost them $16 million per year. Florida, on the other hand, had a $45 million budget cut from the Department of Corrections, which forced it to release 3,000 inmates early.

Moreover, Florida was another state spending millions of dollars on the death penalty. The Sierra County District Attorney, James Reichle, was quoted saying, If we didn’t have to pay $50,000 a pop for Sacramento’s murders, I’d have an investigator and the sheriff would have a couple of extra deputies and we could do some lasting good for Sierra county law enforcement. In Texas, the early release of prisoners has meant that inmates are serving only twenty percent of their sentences. So this great weapon we call the death penalty is in actuality taking police officers off the streets, while putting convicted criminals back on the street and all at the tax payers expense. Knowing that the death penalty is cost inefficient, the opposition believes that we should increase its efficiency by limiting the appeal process and not abolish it all together. Efforts are under way in both Congress and the Supreme Court to perform this action by reducing the avenues of appeals to those sentence to death. The opposition believes that this would substantially cut the price of the death penalty. Even though, it would save millions of dollars, that is not a substantial amount when viewing it holistically. Since the bulk of the cost of the death penalty occurs at the trial level, tinkering with the avenues of appeals will not save much.

A Kansas study, for example, estimated that the annual cost for implementing the death penalty would be $11.4 million, of which $9.2 million would be for the trial cost. New York estimated that the cost per case would be $1.8 million, of which $1.5 million would be the trial cost. A second factor that would have to be taken into consideration would be that most defendants in capital punishment cases do not receive the death sentence, leaving their price tag unaffected by the change in the appeal system. In addition, more and more people are going through the death sentence process, which will cause the total cost to continuously grow. Even though millions may be saved in the near future, billions will still be spent in the long run.

And the final thing to consider is that the death penalty requires that expenses are paid up front, while life imprisonment allows the gradual payment over years, making imprisonment even more pleasing to the pocket book. Chief Criminal Judge of Oregon was quoted saying, Whether you’re for it or against it, I think the fact is that Oregon simply can’t afford it. The wide gap in the cost of the death penalty opposed to life imprisonment leaves room for no arguments. The cost of implementing the death penalty is taking its toll on all areas of government. Police offices are taken off the streets, while criminals are being placed on the streets.

The death penalty is merely a black hole sucking in millions of dollars each year with no sign of benefit. The death penalty should be abolished; it should not be made more efficient. Even if new rules save millions, billions would still be wasted. So many other departments of law enforcement could benefit from this money. Furthermore, a lot money could remain in the pockets’ of the American taxpayer. Presently, the only ones benefiting from the death penalty are the lawyers. All this money and time spent in order to make lawyers rich.

Legal Issues.

Death Penalty

By: Doolittle
E-mail: emailprotected
The Debate over the merits of capital punishment has endured for years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive and complicated issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to the Marshalls and the Millgards, while proponents point to the Dahmers and Gacys. Society must be kept safe from the monstrous barbaric acts of these individuals and other killers, by taking away their lives to function and perform in our society. At the same time, we must insure that innocent people such as Marshall and Millgard are never convicted or sentenced to death for a crime that they did not commit. Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form of deterrence does not work, as there are no fewer murders on a per- capita basis in countries or states that do have it, then those that do not. In order for capital punishment to work as a deterrence, certain events must be present in the criminal’s mind prior to committing the offence. The criminal must be aware that others have been punished in the past for the offence that he or she is planning, and that what happened to another individual who committed this offence, can also happen to me. But individuals who commit any types of crime ranging from auto theft to 1st-Degree Murder, never take into account the consequences of their actions. Deterrence to crime, is rooted in the individuals themselves. Every human has a personal set of conduct. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far they will and will not go. This personal set of conduct can be made or be broken by friends, influences, family, home, life, etc. An individual who is never taught some sort of restraint as a child, will probably never understand any limit as to what they can do, until they have learned it themselves. Therefore, capital punishment will never truly work as a deterrent, because of human nature to ignore practised advice and to self learn. There are those who claim that capital punishment is in itself a form of vengeance on the killer. But isn’t locking up a human being behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself? And is it “humane” that an individual who took the life of another, should receive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, 3 meals a day, while a homeless person who has harmed no one receives nothing? Adversaries of capital punishment claim that it is far more humane then having the state take away the life of the individual. In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex offender, was scheduled to hang. But just days before his execution, the then Liberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted McCorkell to life in prison. Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tenessee boy. He was sentanced to 63 years in prison. Prior to leaving Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the attempted murder of an 11-year old boy. What has been gained by this? Had McCorkell been executed in 1963, two boys would never have had to have gone through the horror of being sexually abused. These individuals may themselves become sex offenders, as many sex offenders were sexually abused as children. McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assualt in the past, but that does not justify what he did. He did not do this once, he killed two boys, and assaulted two others, leaving one for dead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this man have to live? He has ruined the lives of 4 children, what will he do in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a life would the state have been taking away in this case? An innocent life? A forgiving life? No, a life that was beyond the realm of reform, and did not care to be. We must be careful. We must be very careful to never, even when suspicion may cause considerable doubt, send an innocent person to be executed. It could have happened to David Millgard, it could have happened to Donald Marshall. It probably has even occured numerous times in the history of the earth. But with proper police investigations, and where the evidence shows that the individual is a threat to the peace of society as long as he or she is alive, capital punishment must be used.
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