The United States Must Abolish the Death Penalty

Despite Huntsville’s peaceful nature, the city hosts most of Texas’s worst inmates. Death row inmates are in the Huntsville Unit prison, where 540 have been executed ever since the death penalty was brought back in 1976. As a result, Huntsville’s death row is one of the most infamous part of the city. However, the return of capital punishment is an ineffective way of dealing with hardened criminals. It would be in the best interest of the United States to abolish the death penalty and find more efficient methods to punish violent convicts.

The first problem with capital punishment that arises is that the amount of exoneration of innocent people on death row. According to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, at least 157 people since 1973 were released from death row once. Evidence that they were innocence of the crimes committed were presented. What this shows is that no methods, even DNA evidence, is a perfect way of determining who is guilty of a crime. This presents a problem in that ever since the reestablishment of the death penalty, it is possible that one of the 1446 people that have been executed was innocent of the misdeed. With 2905 inmates currently on death row, that leaves many possible innocents. Even though most of the death row inmates are responsible for the crimes they committed, risking the wrongful death of even one innocent person is unacceptable. Executing an innocent person is the worst form of injustice as the criminal who was responsible for a heinous crime still walks in freedom. The United States must avoid inviting comparisons to China (where opposition to the Communist Party of China may be executed), Iran or Saudi Arabia (the latter two execute individual for leaving Islam) which commits executions for questionable reasons.

Another issue that comes with the death penalty is that the 2014 FBI Uniform Crime Report debunks the notion that the death penalty works as a deterrence to prevent crimes. In that same year, the South had a 6.7 percent murder rate per 100,000 people and 1178 executions as of February, 2017; which is above 80 percent of the executions. In comparison, the Northeast had a 4.2 murder rate per 100,000 and as of this month, only four people have been executed. If the job of the death penalty is to scare people from committing violent crimes, it is a failure. The murder rate is not going to drop because of a faulty capital punishment system. Only by tackling the issue of poverty – where murder is far more rampant – will the murder rate decline.

Furthermore, the death penalty sinks money from the economy. According to the Kansas Judicial Council, the defense costs for death penalty trials in Kansas has an average of approximately $400,000 whereas a case where the prosecutor does not seek the death penalty reduces by one fourth. To hit closer to home, the Dallas Morning News reports that the average cost of a death penalty case in Texas is about $2.3 million, which is three times the cost of imprisoning a man in the highest security level for forty years. The United States has serious problems with its ballooning national debt and yet the government still believes that unnecessarily bleeding money from the economy with a system that could potentially kill innocent people is worth keeping. To deal with an increasing debt and a declining middle class, the government must make many cuts. Since capital punishment is faltering, axing the entire system should be one of the easier moves to save this country’s economy.

This is not to say that the most perilous criminals should be treated lightly. Rather, the country should implement better ways of dealing with notorious criminals that proves to be just as harsh. Lake Research Partners’ 2010 poll shows that only 33 percent support the death penalty; 52 percent favor life without parole (with the 39 percent also favoring restitution for the victims) The best way to deal with the likes of child rapists and murderers, serial killers, terrorists and those who commit treason is to eternally lock them up in one cell with no communication to the outside world. Remove all comforts that people take for granted every day and force them to reflect on the fact that they took away an innocent life (or lives). Perhaps this is not as glamorous as witnessing an execution, but life without parole with restitution to the affected victims is the most fitting justice to apply. That way, it will reflect what the majority support, it will save money to tackle other issues that leads to murder and most importantly, innocent people will never face execution ever again.


There are 2 comments

  1. Dudley Sharp


    Fact check next time.

    Th frauds of the 157 "innocent" from death row have been well known, since the numbers were first presented as 69 "innocents", about 20 years ago (1).

    Take a look at both the Kansas and Texas cost "studies". It turns out the Texas "study" confirmed that the death penalty was less expensive that a life case (2).

    You cannot determine deterrence by murder rates. Please review (3). You would know that if you just looked at the state murder rates which contradict your presumption.

    A preference poll is neither an acceptance nor a rejection poll (4).'

    1) The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy

    2) Saving Costs with The Death Penalty

    3) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

    4) 86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever - April 2013
    World Support Remains High
    95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty

  2. Allen Foster

    157 persons who were once sentenced to death had their conviction reversed at the AUTOMATIC review of their case. In most instances, the conviction was reversed due to insufficient proof of guilt, NOT because the defendant was proved innocent.

    That demonstrates that the system is weighted in favor of setting the guilty free, and NOT in favor of executing the innocent.

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