The Death Penalty Essay Research Paper Jay

The Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper

Jay Banner

November 15, 2000

Criminal Justice


The Death Penalty

The death penalty what a very controversial subject. I personally have a very strong opinion on this matter, I personally think that we should use the death penalty a lot more than we do, instead of placing murderers, rapists, and people who commit treason in prison for life or letting them out on parol. People that commit the most heinous of crimes should receive the most heinous of consequences. Isn’t that just the most fair way to deal with those offenders of the law?

From 1930, the first year of which statistics are readily available from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, to 1967, 3,859 people were executed under civil jurisdiction in the United States. During this period of nearly half a century, over half (54%) of those executed were blacks, 45 percent were white, and the remaining one percent were members of other racial groups. The majority of those executed were men; 32 women were executed from 1930 to 1967.

Three out of five executions during that period took place in the southern U.S. The state of Georgia had the highest number of executions during the period, totaling 366 ? more than nine percent of the national total. Texas followed with 297 executions; New York with 329; California with 292; and North Carolina with 263. Most executions ? 3,334 of 3,859 ? were for the crime of murder; 455 prisoners ? ninety percent of them black ? were executed for rape; 70 prisoners were executed for other offenses.

During the same period, the U.S. Army executed 160 people, including 106 exections for murder, 53 for rape, and one for desertion. The U.S. Navy has executed no one since 1849.

One of opponents’ popular false claims is that it is the race of the victim which determines who is on death row. 82% of the murder victims in death penalty cases are white. 13% are black, a 6:1 ratio. Opponents, such as Kica Mato, executive director of NAACP, present this fact as evidence that the “system” values white lives more than black lives. If true, then we must wonder why whites represent 56% of those executed, and blacks 38% when blacks have committed 47% of all murders, and whites 38%. Whites are executed at rates nearly 50% above their involvement in murder, blacks are executed at rates 20% below their involvement in murder. From 1991-94, 34% of murderers have been white, 54% black.

Could it be that we just hate white murderers more? Or that we only care about white capital murder victims? Or should we conclude that the “system” focuses its benevolence toward black murderers, but its racism against black victims? How crazy. Such perverse conclusions, by opponents, are expected and serve only to further undermine their quickly eroding credibility. Successful capital prosecutions have nothing to do with the race of the victim or of the defendant and everything to do with the nature of the crimes. The most thorough evaluation of this subject was presented in McCleskey vs. Georgia wherein Federal District Judge, Owen Forester, accurately found that “the best models which Baldus was able to devise…produce no statically significant evidence that race plays a part in either.

Should we balance the scales of justice and execute equally the killer of blacks and whites? Only if you wish to increase the number of black murderers executed. 93% of all black murder victims are murdered by blacks. The overwhelming majority of black on black murders have mitigating circumstances, thereby reducing the numbers of blacks who might otherwise be executed.

From 1976-1995, 5 white murderers have been put to death for the murder of black people and 101 black murderers have been put to death for the murder of white people. Opponents falsely contend that this is evidence of racism in the “system.” That 101:5 ratio, or 20:1, is consistent with statistics that show aggravated crimes are committed by lacks against white in far greater numbers that by whites against blacks. For all violent crimes, there are ten times as many black offenders involved in white victim violent crimes as there are white offenders involved in white victim violent crimes, or a 10:1 ratio. In addition, blacks are nearly three times as likely to murder whites, as whites are to murder blacks. If murder rates are statistically consistent within the violent crime category then whites are to murder blacks, in those circumstances where an additional aggravating factor is present. Those are the crimes most eligible for the death penalty.

75% of blacks and 35% of whites believe that blacks are treated more harshly than whites by the criminal justice system. This is a deserved reputation, particularly in the South. Blacks have suffered some 400 years of slavery and brutal racist criminal justice practices. From the practices of punishing blacks, who rape whites, with death and whites, who rape blacks, with a slap on the wrist.

Many opponents present, as fact, that the cost of the death penalty is so expensive, that we must choose life without parole at a cost of $1 million for 50 years. Predictably, these pronouncements may be entirely false. JFA estimates that LWOP cases will cost $1.2 million – $3.6 million more than equivalent death penalty cases.

Cost of Life Without

Parole: Cases Cost of Death Penalty

Equivalent To Death Cases

Penalty Cases

1. $32,200/years for 50 $60,000/year for 6 years

years, at a 2% annual at a 2% annual cost = $1.88 million

cost increase, plus = $3.01 million increase, plus

$75,000 for trial & $1.5 million for trial &

appeals appeals

2. Same, except 3% = $4.04 million Same, except 3% = $1.89 million

3. Same, except 4% = $5.53 million Same, except 4% = $1.91 million

There is no question that the up front costs of the death penalty are significantly higher than for equivalent LWOP (Life With-Out Parole) cases. There also appears to be no question that, over time, equivalent LWOP cases are much more expensive – from $1.2 to $3.6 million – than death penalty cases. Opponents ludicrously claim that the death penalty costs, over time, 3-10 times more the LWOP.

There are at least 28 procedures necessary in reaching a death sentence. They are: (1) The crime must be one listed as a capital crime in the penal code; (2) a suspect must be identified and arrested; (3) Beginning with the Bill of Rights, the Miranda warnings and the exclusionary rules, U.S. criminal defendants and those convicted have, by far, the most extensive protections ever devised and implemented; (4) in Harris county (Houston), Texas a panel of district attorneys determines if the case merits the death penalty as prescribed by the Penal Code (5) a grand jury must indict the suspect for capital murder; (6) the suspect is presumed innocent; (7) the prosecution must prove to the judge that the evidence, upon which the prosecution will rely, is admissible; (8) the defendant is assigned two attorneys, county funds are provided to the defense counsel for investigation and trial; (9) it takes 3-12 weeks to select a jury; (10) trial is conducted; (11) the burden of proof is on the state; (12) all 12 jury members must find for guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt. In most cases, the jury knows nothing of the defendant’s previous criminal acts, at this stage. If found guilty, then, the punishment phase of the trial begins; (13) the prosecution presents additional damning evidence against the murderer, i.e., other crimes, victims, victims’ or survivors’ testimony, police reports, etc; (14) in order to find for death, the issues to be resolved by the jury are {a} (14) did the defendant not only act willfully in causing the death, but act deliberately, as well, {b} (15) does the evidence show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there is a likelihood that the defendant will be dangerous in the future, {c} (16) if there was provocation on the part of the victim, were the defendant’s actions unreasonable in response to the provocations and {d} (17) is there something about the defendant that diminishes moral responsibility or in some way mitigates against the imposition of death for the defendant in this case, whereby, (18) the defense presents all mitigating circumstance, which may lesson the probability of the jury record, mental disability, parental abuse, poverty, etc. Witnesses, such as family, friends, co-workers, etc., are presented to speak and offer the positive qualities of the defendant; (19) the jury must take into consideration those mitigating circumstances (Penry decision) and, if only 1 juror believes that the perpetrator deserves leniency because of any mitigating circumstances, then the jury cannot impose the death penalty; and (20) when the death sentence is imposed, the perpetrator receives an automatic appeal. (21 & 22) the death row inmate is provided an attorney, or attorneys, to handle the direct appeal, at county expense, through both the state and federal courts; (23 & 24) the state pays attorneys for the inmate’s habeas corpus appeals, at both the state and federal level; (25 & 26) death row inmates may be granted a hearing, in both state and federal court, to present post conviction claims of innocence. The burden of proof for these claims of innocence mirrors that used by the Federal courts; and (27 & 28) convictions and sentences are subject to pardon or sentence reduction through the executive branch of government, at both the state level (Governor) and federal level (President).

Now that I have given you all the information about the death penalty I will let you make your own decision. I was told to inform and that I have done. I was told to give my opinion, so here it goes: I think the death penalty is a good thing that should be used more. I think race has nothing to do with the death penalty. I think the 28 procedures are a good thing. I also think that it takes too long for these 28 things to go through. I also think people should realize how much money they are spending, in taxes, on murderers, rapists, and people that commit treason. Last but not least, I think people should voice their opinions about this matter a lot more then they do.

“Capital Punishment: Life or Death”

“Death Penalty Information & Resources”


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