The Life of David Gale makes many arguments against the death penalty throughout the movie showing how far the characters in the movie will go to promote this cause they hold near and dear to their hearts. David Gale plays a Professor in the philosophy department, but after a series of unfortunate events he ends up on death row even though through his entire career he made himself a known advocate for the Death Watch; which was an anti-death penalty organization that frequently fought for this cause through rally’s and debates. After he has sex with one of his students, Berlin, through which she directs him to do so in a way that evidence of rape is prominent. He is arrested on charges of rape and Berlin flees the state to Sandiego, Ca. After she dropped the charges his wife leaves him and takes their son to Italy, leaving him with nothing and no one but his best friend Constance Hollaway, and the Death Watch organization.
While on a call with the Death Watch’s president, who explains that he no longer wants Gale to be a part of the organization, that send him into a downward spiral and ends up at Constance’s house where she collapses and he finds out that she has leukemia and is dying. He is explaining all of this while on death row for killing and raping Constance to a reporter Elizabeth Bloom while she tries to find a way to expose what really happened to prove his innocence. Once she figures out that Dusty, Constance’s friend, is holding the tape that proves Gale’s innocence she is too late and Gale has been killed. She then finds the rest of the tape which Gales lawyer sends to her, that David was aware of this the entire time and died for the cause to show that the death penalty can cause the death of innocent people.
I think that this movie makes very clear and concise arguments against the death penalty such as deterrence, during the debate against the Congressman Gale argued that the fact that people might be put to death for a crime doesn’t impede them from still committing said crime. This is only going after the proximate causes to deter people from committing these crimes, not the root cause. This is a completely inefficient policy and ineffective policy. The death penalty is inefficient because using a cost benefit analysis; it costs the government far more to execute a person than it does to keep them in prison for life, the cost far outweighs the benefit in this instance primarily because there is a high cost and no benefit, putting someone in prison for life without parole reduces their ability to commit more crime just as much as executing them does and it costs less. If the death penalty doesn’t deter anyone from committing these crimes, how is this an effective policy, what is the point of it?
Innocence and the death penalty was a strong argument used against it in this movie, Gale was innocent of raping and murdering Constance and because not all the accurate information was acquired he ended up being put on death row and eventually executed even though he was innocent. Once you execute an innocent person that is an injustice that can never be rectified. Especially since we started using DNA testing to exonerate those on death row seventeen people were found to be innocent. Think of all the people that were innocent before DNA testing came about, but couldn’t prove their innocence for that sole reason. The death penalty is also in no way equitable because of the racial disparities involved through the process, in 1990 a report from the General Accounting Office concluded that “in 82 percent of the studies, race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty.
Also inadequate representation can have a lot to do with the outcome of your trial, and almost all defendants in capital cases do not have the funds to afford their own attorneys. Because of this the state must provide an attorney, many of these attorneys are overworked, unqualified, unprepared, or incompetent. An examination of 461 capital cases by The Dallas Morning News found that nearly one in four condemned inmates has been represented at trial or on appeal by court-appointed attorneys who have been disciplined for professional misconduct at some point in their careers. The death penalty is in no way an effective, efficient, or equitable form of policy. It doesn’t define the problem or try to determine the root cause of this problem; it only focuses on proximate causes and symptom level solutions to a growing problem. Different policy alternatives should be explored to produce better outcomes that don’t result in such inequalities for those affected.
The purpose of a punishment is meant to deter people from committing the acts that will cause said punishment, and if it isn’t deterring anyone from doing these things then what is the point? Life in prison is a more effective deterrent and even a worse punishment, many jurors won’t even vote to convict solely because they don’t want to put someone to death. The ACLU wrote in an article titled “ The Truth About Life Without Parole “The death penalty costs more, delivers less, and puts innocent lives at risk. Life without parole provides swift, severe, and certain punishment. It provides justice to survivors of murder victims and allows more resources to be invested into solving other murders and preventing violence”.