(Disclaimer: This post is not made because all of Bonsai is opposed to the death penalty. This post is merely pointing out the cons of the death penalty, and was originally a persuasive piece for Mary’s class. Not all of the staff at Bonsai is necessarily opposed to the death penalty, and I do not expect them to be, and if you do not want to be, you shouldn’t either.)
States without the death penalty have had consistently lower homicide rates than states that do in the past 20 years. This shows that the death penalty does not have as large of an effect on rates of crime as it is supposed to, and therefore is unnecessary. The death penalty should be outlawed in the United States of America for this and many other reasons.
First of all, it is very easy to put innocent people on death row. Since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death row because they were proven innocent. At any time, any of these 130 people could have been executed even though they committed no crime. Wrongful accusations are often made just because of bad legal representation, since people who are put on death row usually cannot pay to have a good lawyer to represent them in court. Some other reasons for innocents to be accused are police misconduct, prejudice, wrongful discriminating testimonies, misinterpretation of evidence, and the pressure on officers to solve a case quickly.
Secondly, the death penalty costs a lot more than life in prison. At a median price, executions cost $1.26 million dollars, while life in prison costs $740,000, which is considerably less. In Maryland, capital punishment costs three times more than life in prison, and in California, the law system would cost $11.5 million dollars instead of the $137 million it does if there was no death penalty.
Another thing to consider is that the death row system is highly prejudiced. The victims of murder resulting in executions/death row are overwhelmingly white (77% percent) and over half the time, the people put on death row for these murders are African-American. A study made by the US General Accounting Office found that a defendant was several times more likely to be found guilty if the victim was white. Another report sponsored by the American Bar Association found that one-third of the inmates on death row who were African-American would not have been found guilty if they were white. African-Americans are also treated more harshly during court and are valued less than white inmates during death row.
Furthermore, executing people with mental problems goes against the constitution. However, several people have been put on death row even if they are known to have mental illness. James Colbourn was accused of murder and found guilty even though he had extreme schizophrenia and was extremely sedated during his trial. He was executed a few years later. Several other people have had similar cases, such as Charles Singleton and Kelsey Patterson. Both men both had known mental illness but were executed anyway.
Lastly, the court accusing people of death penalty can be highly random. Co-defendants on trial for the same crime may receive very different punishments. One might get several years in prison while the other is put on death row. Also, only two percent of people who commit crimes eligible of death penalty actually receive it. Overall, it doesn’t matter what you did — what really matters is where you are, who is prosecuting you, bargaining, and chance.
The death penalty does nothing to help the United States run smoothly, and should be outlawed. The United States will be a much better place to live in if we didn’t kill a person for a person, and we should abolish it for all of these reasons.