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Custom «The Death Penalty Debate» Essay Paper

Custom «The Death Penalty Debate» Essay Paper

The question of whether to abolish or to continue executing the capital punishment is the one that generates intense debates in all democratic jurisdictions. In fact, the legal regimes in some countries are silent on the capital punishment. In others, judges convict criminals to death sentences but in practice, there is no enforcement. Although some states in the US, such as California, have legal provisions for death sentences, this essay argues for its abolition.

First of all, it should be noted that the capital punishment is expensive. It costs more to execute a criminal than keep them in prison forever. A 2010 study found that California has spent over $4 billion on capital punishment since its reinstatement in 1978 (Latzer & McCord, 2010). The study also established that trials for the death penalty are 20 times more costly than trials that seek a life incarceration without parole possibilities. Currently, California spends $185 million annually on the capital punishment. This state is projected to spend more than $1 billion by 2020 (Latzer & McCord, 2010).

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The claim that capital punishment has a deterrent effect on crime is a fallacy. Scientific studies consistently fail to demonstrate that executing death penalties does not deter people from criminal activities better than long-time incarceration. Moreover, states that have no death penalties have lower murder rates. According to Latzer and McCord (2010), the South has over 80 percent of the US executions, and murder rates are very high there.

The most worrying trend is the wrongful conviction and subsequent execution of innocent people. Wrongful execution of innocent people is an injustice that is not rectifiable. Since the reinstatement of the capital punishment, over 150 people got a reprieve from death row. Some of these people were only a few hours away from execution. In the past two years, there is sufficient evidence indicating that five men were wrongfully executed since they had not committed crimes they wer convicted of (Banner, 2010, p. 38).Such errors are appalling and unacceptable.

In the United States of America, racial discrimination plays a pivotal role in the determination of who dies and who lives. The race of the defendant and the race of the victim in capital offenses are key determinants of who dies in the United States. A study in the US reveals that in 82% of cases the victim's race influences the chances of murder charges and capital punishment sentence (Bedau & American Civil Liberties Union, 2011). Criminals who murder white people are more likely to receive death sentences than the criminals who murder black ones.

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According to Bedau and American Civil Liberties Union (2011), in the United States, the application of the capital punishment is random. The determining factors in capital punishment cases are not often the facts of the crime. Instead, these factors are the quality of the legal counsel, jurisdiction and the politics of the location of the crime commission. In this country, a death penalty is a lottery that is lethal. Out of 22,000 homicide crimes on an annual basis, an estimate of 100 people get death sentence (Bedau & American Civil Liberties Union, 2011).

What is more, capital punishment is anti-religious. Some scriptures and religious books bear messages that support the capital punishment. However, in the United States of America, all religious groups and institutions condemn the execution of the capital punishment and term it as immoral. Moreover, enforcement of the capital punishment in the US is against the dictates of human rights. The United States is a global model of an advocate for human rights. Supporting the capital punishment equals to upholding the practices of countries that are infamous for abusing human rights. Today, the majority of countries in South America, Western Europe, and North America do not enforce capital punishment both in law and in practice (Banner, 2010, p. 39). If the United States does not abolish this punishment, it will remain in the company off Iran, Iraq, China and North Korea as one of the major users and advocates of capital punishment.

One more point for abolishing death families is that families of murder victims should benefit from the millions that are used to enforce death executions. Family members who lose loved ones to murder crimes feel that a death sentence does not alleviate the pain they have. Instead, the protracted process only serves to deepen the agony that these family members feel. Funds that are spent on these costly executions should used to help the families. In fact, it is helpful to channel some of these funds to restitution, victim hotlines counseling and similar services that address the needs of the victim’s families.

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Poor legal representation persists in capital case hearings. A major factor that determines whether a defendant receives the capital punishment is the quality of lawyers representing them. Over 90% of the defendants in capital cases do not afford to hire their attorneys (Bedau & American Civil Liberties Union, 2011). Mostly, the appointed attorneys are paid poorly and lack the trial experience and the energy for representing the defendants in capital punishment cases. There are instances when the appointed lawyers are so inexperienced that they are not completely prepared for the sentencing phase. Other appointed attorneys sleep during the trial or arrive at the court while drunk (Hanks, 2009).

Life with no parole is a good substitute for capital punishment. Judges usually have the alternative to sentencing a capital murderer to life incarceration without any parole possibility. This sentence is cheaper for the taxpayers and will keep violent offenders off the streets. A life sentence without parole will allow an offender to correct their mistakes, but the capital punishment does not give one this opportunity. Currently, there are more than 3,300 people who are getting life sentences without parole. Most of these convicts can prove their innocence (Bedau and American Civil Liberties Union, 2011).

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