Death Penalty Essay

Submitted By Royaltyjdm15
Words: 1484
Pages: 6

Stephanny Viana
ENG 111-C2
Death Penalty
7/4/11
The death penalty has been a very controversial topic for quite some time. Many oppose it; however, many are for it. There have always been problems with the death penalty system, and are becoming more evident. “California was spending about $100 million a year on death penalty cases as of 2008 in state post-trial costs alone.” (Jost 2010 Pg.8) Also, many capital defendants are still receiving inadequate representation at trial and that many or even most death row inmates have little if any legal help in challenging their convictions or sentences afterward. (Jost 2010 pg.9) Capital punishment is cruel and unusual punishment and it is unconstitutional. Opponents of the death penalty say prosecutors may be seeking the death penalty less often because of the costs of a capital trial, sentencing and post-conviction proceedings. Not only are the prosecutors worried but the Jurors are too. The process of an actual death penalty is unreasonably expensive and adds $51 million annually. (Jost 2010 pg.9) Many also worry about executing an innocent person. (Jost 2010 pg.1) Housing inmates on death row also costs $90,000 more per inmate per year than imprisonment in a maximum security facility. (Jost 2010 pg.9) In a study published in fall 2009, North Carolina alone could save nearly $11 million a year by abolishing capital punishment. (Jost 2010 pg.15) If all states would consider abolishing this inhumane punishment, the United States could save billions and invest in better safety, hire more police officers, and possibly remove these criminals off the streets. Programs that clearly benefit safety of society are being cut because of the budget crisis, but death penalty expenditures continue to rise. It is said to be one of the most expensive state programs, and it produces no measurable gain in public safety. The average police budget had to be cut, states are letting prisoners go early, curtailing ambulance services and closing schools. Cities like New York and Washington have been enormously successful in cutting murder rates without death penalty through programs like community policing and new technologies that focus on high-crime areas. They can execute perhaps one person per year at a cost of $10 million, or use the same money to hire 200 police officers. Over 99 percent of murders do not result in an execution. Those cases that do end in a death sentence are often overturned and frequently end in a life sentence. (Jost 2010 pg.22) These delays that create these preposterous costs are affected by the delays that lead to an actual execution. The Death Penalty Information Center claims that 119 people have been “released from death rows with evidence of their innocence” since 1973. The center calls these releases “exonerations” and counts 36 such cases just since 2000. (Jost 2005 pg.2) The reason for this revelation is due to the fact that innocent people were convicted and sentenced to death and in some cases came close to being executed. Many have thought of reducing the costs by removing moratoriums on the executions, however, investigations by Northwestern University journalism students and Chicago Tribune reporters were convinced that the state’s system from sending people to death row was “fraught with error.”(Jost 2005 pg.8) The Supreme Court became somewhat more receptive to death row inmates’ pleas by setting aside death sentences for mentally retarded, juvenile offenders, and in some individual cases because of racial discrimination, trials errors or inadequate legal representation. (Jost 2005 pg.13) The many errors made in court and the lack of moratoriums in certain cases helped improve today’s system. (Liebman pg.13)
For example, In a Pennsylvania case, the court somewhat strengthened the requirement that defense lawyers investigate defendants’ background for evidence that could possibly prove their innocence. Also, In a Missouri case, the court ruled that the…