Failures Of Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper
Failures of Capital Punishment
Is the death penalty a just way of punishing those who commit a horrible crime? The answer to that depends on the standpoint of an individual. Fox Butterfield of the New York Times notices that ?In the view of some, the failure to enforce the death penalty reflects and enduring ambivalence about the capital punishment. Others say that the death penalty opponents have found ways to triumph over the public will to carry out executions.? In a capitalistic standpoint, there is the notion that it simply costs too much. There is another and more simple standpoint and that is that the death penalty is not working. This is where I personally stand on the issue. The death penalty is a just punishment for a convicted individual, but the system in the United States is not functioning properly for it to be a means of punishment.
As far as deterrence goes, Amnesty international states that ?studies have consistently failed to find convincing evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments.? Roger Hood, an author that wrote The Death Penalty: A World-wide Perspective, Notes the UN?s research on the subject and states that ? ?Research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment and such proof is unlikely forthcoming. The evidence as a whole still gives no positive support to the deterrent hypothesis?.? Hood is strongly for the abolition of the death penalty. He explains that ?abolition has harmful effects. In Canada, the homicide rate per 100,000 population fell from a peak of 3.09 in 1975, the year before the abolition of the death penalty for murder, to 2.41 in 1980, and since then it has remained relatively stable.? This supports the fact that deterrence is not an issue as far as crime goes in relation to the death penalty.
The failure to enforce the death penalty is a problem with the system. The question raised by Fox Butterfield of the New York Times is this: ?why can?t a nation where 70 percent of the population says it supports the death penalty achieve its stated goal: to speed up the process and deliver swift justice to its most vicious criminals?? There is the statement that Americans are ambivalent about capital punishment regardless of the polls. There is the willingness of judges to hear the many numbers of appeals, and this lengthens the whole punishment process. There is also, in California, a four-year wait for prisoners to receive an appeal lawyer. This and the fact that more people are being added to the death row line-up are causing a bottleneck in the whole system. Butterfield notes that Gerald Kogan, chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, points out that ? ?the death penalty is not working.? Some of his justices, he said, are spending up to half of their time just on death penalty appeals. He suggested that sentencing murders to life without parole might make more sense.?
A group of people strongly opposing the death penalty set up a webpage called Death Penalty Focus on California. It provides statistics and reasons behind the fact that the death penalty costs too much. The reason is because of the ?constitutional mandated safeguards? that cause capital punishment trials to cost more. These safeguards include: an extensive jury selection procedure, increase in motions filed, more investigators and expert testimony, more death penalty specialized lawyers, and mandatory appeals. This group notes that ?since there are few defendants who will plead guilty to a capital charge, virtually every death penalty trial becomes a jury trial with all of the above requirements and expenses.? These all relate to the high price taxpayers pay for the death penalty process. Harold Johnson of the Sacramento Bee argues that ?California would save $90 million per year if it were to abolish the death penalty.? The cost issue is another standpoint opposing capital punishment.
The fact that the capital punishment process has some major flaws is a good reason to think about whether or not America should incorporate it as a punishment. Sure, many people are for the idea if it, but there are too many legal issues and problems that are defeating the purpose if the death penalty. Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death penalty group, claims ?that the zeal for capital punishment will eventually wane.? Once Americans realize that the capital punishment system is not perfectly functional, then change will occur. The bottleneck in the courts and jails across the country will be cleared, and the United States of America will be added to Amnesty International?s list of countries that have abolished the death penalty.