Since the early beginnings of the criminal justice system, the death penalty has had its place as a form of punishment for heinous criminals. It was wrong 100 years ago, it is wrong today, and it always will be. So why do 75% of Americans support it? Because they believe it is cheap, serves justice, and is fair. These are simply not the facts. These are fallacies fed to the American public through the government and the media. The death penalty is just plain wrong. It causes many ill effects upon society, and shatters many innocent people’s lives.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½
Some people support the death penalty, believing that it is cheaper than keeping an inmate imprisoned for life. Nationally, it costs approximately 3.2 million dollars to execute someone, compared to approximately $600,000.00 to keep them in prison for life. In the State of Florida, 51 million dollars per year would be saved if the death penalty did not exist, and all eligible offenders were instead sentenced to life in prison. The death penalty is not cheap, and the costs associated with it are growing rapidly. The death penalty causes a huge financial burden on society, and takes funds away from other much needed programs.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½
Others support the death penalty because they have a personal belief that it is just. How can a practice be considered just when it claims innocent lives and is not applied to al people equally? Since 1976, 113 people have been exonerated from death row using DNA evidence that has proven their innocence. What we do not know is how many innocent people have actually been executed before their innocence could be proven. The United States has executed innocent persons. The government just has not given them a name yet. Race also plays a role in who receives the death penalty, which is definitely a discriminatory practice. In the State of Florida, a white man has never been sentenced to death for murdering a black man. However, if a black man is convicted of killing a white man, he has a 22% chance of receiving the death penalty as a punishment. Florida is not the only state using this discriminatory practice. In Ohio, even though during a one-year period of time when 47 white men were tried and convicted of killing black individuals, none of them received the death penalty. Furthermore, out of the 173 black men who were convicted of killing white persons, 25% of them were sentenced to death. By looking at the figures, it is not hard to conclude that the death penalty is unjust.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½
Some supporters argue that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime. This is not a fact; it is a myth. In 2002, the murder rate in the South increased by 2.1%, and the South accounts for 82% of all executions. On the other hand, in the Northeast, which accounts for less than 1% of all executions, the murder rate decreased by an astonishing 5%. The rates for non-death penalty countries compared to countries that employ also prove that the death penalty is not a deterrent. The United States has a murder rate that is more than three times that of all European, non-death penalty countries. A study regarding the deterrence effect of the death penalty was conducted in Oklahoma. It was found that following a well-publicized execution that took place in 1990; there was actually an increase in the homicide rate. This is just further proof that use of the death penalty does not deter crime.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½
Society is ignorant of the true facts and figures regarding the death penalty. If more people were made aware of them, I believe that public opinion would have a monumental shift, and that 75% of Americans would be against the death penalty instead of supporting it. Injustice can happen to anyone. The actual carrying out of the death sentence does not discriminate. Once the switch is pulled, it does not matter if one is a mother, father, sister, brother, son, or daughter. Death is forever; the death penalty does not have to be.