The death penalty is a trite moral argument. Proponents of this murderous form of capital punishment are always proposing the same questions.
One claim is that lethal injections are the cheapest form of justice, which is completely untrue. In most instances a capital court case incurs costs five to 10 times that of life imprisonment.
Four years ago the Joint Legislative Budget Committee of the California Legislature saw that the elimination of the death penalty would save the state at least several tens of millions of dollars each year and a net savings to local governments in the millions to tens of millions of dollars on a statewide basis.
With the publicized budget deficits in California, one would think a moratorium on the death penalty would be a simple start to correcting the fiscal problems.
Others in favor of the death penalty say that the retaliation is necessary to keep crime statistics down. However, academic studies prove to the contrary. The violence of capital punishment only perpetuates further violence.
Despite all these reasons to be against the death penalty, there should be only one major consideration: the death penalty is perverse.
We should seek justice, not vengeance. It would be absurd to rape rapists, torture torturers and resuscitate mass murders just to kill them repeatedly, yet this is exactly the death penalty’s prevailing attitude.
Regardless of the cruel and disgusting nature of capital punishment, it also must be permanently ended because innocent people are condemned to death.
With recent accurate methods of DNA testing, over a hundred innocent people on death row have been exonerated. In Illinois, half of all death row inmates were found to have never actually committed a crime.
One can only wonder about the amount of innocent people killed by the government.
The list of reasons to be against the death penalty continues. The implemented practice is prejudiced and unfair.
Many believe the death penalty includes a racial bias – studies reveal that African-Americans are far more likely to receive the sentence. Moreover, criminals usually only receive death penalties for the murder of African-Americans.
It is absurd to think that such an important and final decision regarding the life of an individual should include such biases.
Human rights are also ignored, since we are one of the only nations that executes its juvenile offenders. The only other countries that partake in such horrid acts are Congo, Pakistan and Iran.
These countries have governments run by dictators and warlords. These are governments that we compare to the Saddam Hussein-led Iraq.
We are also one of the few countries that has executed the mentally ill. In a June 21, 2000, article, CBS News.com reported that, although Thomas Provenzano thought he was Jesus Christ, Florida executed him anyway in late.
The article read, “Under Florida law, condemned killers can be executed even if they are mentally ill unless they don’t understand they are about to be executed.”
Five other mentally ill people were recently executed in Texas, Alabama and Missouri, according to Amnesty International. It’s ludicrous since such killings were deemed unconstitutional in the 1986 Ford v. Wainright decision. Yet the states continue the cruel practice anyway.
Things became worse this month. On Oct. 3, Eddie Hartman was put to death by lethal injection. After being found guilty, the biggest factor for his sentence was his homosexuality.
The prosecutors continually reminded the jurors of this unimportant and immaterial sexual preference. In three other capital cases, the same discrimination led to the death penalty. Such prejudice should never be a factor in decisions, and certainly not on decisions regarding life and death.
The death penalty debate is more important than ever, considering the Patriot Act and our country’s latest military actions. We are quickly becoming a poor anomaly of democratic nations, resembling a world more reminiscent of that described in dark novels such as “1984,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Fahrenheit 451”.
It’s up to citizens, organizations and the media to focus politicians’ attentions on ending the continued use of executions.
Some states are working towards this goal, with 13 abandoning the death penalty. Others have not put an official stop to executions, but refuse to carry out any further sentences.
N.J. lawmakers are seeking a temporary stay to all executions in the state, pending a study on its gruesome effects. The bill has already passed through the state assembly, and now awaits approval by the state senate.
After considering all the circumstances associated with the death penalty, life imprisonment must replace this heinous practice, now.