The debate on the death penalty is not new to the world. For instance, Americans have been discussing it since colonial times. However, even after so many debates, capital punishment remains a legal penalty in 27 states of America.
That is to say, only seven states in the US have abolished the punishment. Moreover, the punishment is active in the federal government and military criminal justice systems as of December 2021.
Even though people have been debating whether the death penalty should be banned or not for a long time, it was in 1966 that 47% of Americans opposed the penalty. This was the time when the issue garnered peak public support.
People’s attitudes around the subject have shifted since then. In the past, numerous lawyers and officials have argued and submitted studies supporting the abolition of the death penalty. And at one point in time, the court even contemplated removing the sentence. However, this did not occur, and people are still put to death to this day.
In a recent poll conducted by Gallop inc, 54% of respondents said they favored the penalty, whereas 43% opposed it. This shows that the public is in favor of capital punishment. However, most people do not fully comprehend the death penalty’s gravity and its consequences.
There are several arguments by the learned group that favor anti-death penalty policies/laws. One such powerful argument presents Eighth Amendment as a reason to abolish this penalty. The argument is that – Capital punishment is so arbitrary that it violates the Amendment.
After all, the 8th Amendment prohibits unjust and cruel punishment, and capital punishment is a merciless punishment meted out to anyone.
Another concerning factor about capital punishment is its inhuman discrimination against racial minorities. In America, the color of a defendant’s and victim’s skin plays an essential and undesirable role in determining who receives the death penalty.
Statistics show that since 1976, people of color have accounted for a disproportionate 43% of total executions and 55% of those now awaiting death. Almost all of the extensive investigations in this domain have discovered a bias that favors white-victim instances.
It must be noted that these studies often adjust for other characteristics in the instances investigated, such as
However, despite all these considerations, it is still found that offenders who killed a white person were more likely to be sentenced to death.
It is not only fair, but it is necessary to address this evident discrimination by implementing capital punishment at the earliest.
Apart from these two factors, we must also consider the fact that capital punishment is expensive. It is observed that the death penalty costs taxpayers more than life imprisonment. In fact, this is an easily quantifiable factor that can be considered and accepted by all.
It is interesting to note that most people believe that the death penalty costs less than life imprisonment (that includes feeding and housing). However, that’s not entirely true. The death penalty’s length, complexity, and finality drive cost through the roof, making it much more expensive than life imprisonment.
So far, more than a dozen states have found that capital punishment cases are approximately 10 times more expensive than non-death penalty cases. One must also consider another factor death penalties do not deter future crimes.
To conclude, a substantial body of empirical research shows that capital punishment is administered arbitrarily. Furthermore, the costs of trials and multiple appeals make the penalty more expensive than housing an offender in prison for life.
It also shows that the death penalty does not deter violent crime, and over 400 people were wrongfully convicted in capital cases during the twentieth century.
A value judgment is required to determine if society has a moral right to end the lives of murderers and other violent criminals.
A careful analysis alone can help make better laws that do not discriminate racially and uphold equality of law.
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