Death row: the place where prisoners live the remainder of their lives and wait for their deaths. Some will eventually recieve execution, while others will continue to appeal again and again. How would you feel if someone shot your innocent mother, and she ended up dying? Would you want the person responsible for her death to go about living his everyday life as if he was just like everyone else? The death penalty should remain a part of today’s society because it serves as justice for the victims, the money used to fund the convicted while in prison can go towards other things, and the prisoners would have no opportunity to commit other crimes. Using the death penalty has not just recently arisen in the world. It goes “as far back as the Eighteenth Century B.C. in the Code of King Hammaurabi of Babylon” (Death Penalty Information Center). The United States has gone back and forth between using the death penalty and outlawing the use of it. In 1976, the death penalty came back, where it had previously shown up as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1972.
Since then, nearly one thousand citizens have experienced execution because of the death penalty. On the other hand, over one hundred people were released from death row after their offenses received further investigation. Appeal Courts and prosecutors realized that the evidence showed they were not guilty of the crime that they had been previously accused and convicted of in the first place (Death Penalty Information). The death penalty has brought many issues and sorrow to people. Most people seem torn between whether or not to support or oppose the death penalty. Some feel it is not moral or American to use.
If states enforce the death penalty, it can act as a threat to the citizens. If one fears the possibility of the death penalty, then they would think twice before committing the crime, thus saving money for the state because of the price of court costs, prison costs, the death penalty and cutting down on the crime rate. Lower crime rates also can raise revenues for states because the area is now a more desirable place to live in. States with less defined penalties will lead to more violent crimes, because the citizens will know that there is no possible way they can use the death penalty for the crimes they commit. Keep in mind that some guilty criminals have previously sat on death row for many years, and they eventually got released from prison. If the prisons kept the killers from death row in the same location as the other criminals, then they could save money by having to pay fewer guards and staff, using less space, and using less electricity and water.
This would help a great amount, due to the fact that in California “[i]t costs approximately $90,000 more a year to house an inmate on death row, than in the general prison population or $57.5 million annually” (Los Angeles Times). State leaders continue to show concern with the money aspects of the death penalty, “[i]n 2007, time and money were the reasons New Jersey became the first state to ban executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976” (Sullivan). Although the death penalty shows up as the more expensive decision, money cut backs can help the justice system carry out their sentences when found guilty, instead of supporting them on death row for multiple years.
Not in all cases, but in many, prisoners repeatedly commit crimes. We do not want convicted criminals to believe they can repeatedly get out of their punishment. Criminals sometimes get let out early due to good behavior, but “[s]tatistics show that 30% of adult offenders released from state prisons often end up re-arrested within the first six months of their release” (The United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Alabama). Convicted murders are less likely to be released; therefore the percentages show up as much less dependable. Ninety percent of violent crime offenders, repeat the same crime if given the opportunity.
The death penalty provides an absolute guarantee that killers will never kill anyone again. Sometimes prisoners receive the opportunity for early release as long as they have supervision. This works for someone people, but just in the Southern part of Alabama alone, “between the years of 2008-2010, 328 ex-offenders were revoked for violating the terms of their supervised release and sent back to prison” (The United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Alabama). This is an example of people with no morals, people who repeatedly commit crimes even though they have received multiple opportunities to improve and correct themselves.
In my opinion, a person should live his/her life believing that you get what you give. If someone kills another person, causing sorrow to his/her friends and family, he/she should receive this back. People who commit heinous crimes, not knowing the person you have killed makes it easier to move on with your life. The Bible suggests that people should not pity one another, “[a]nd thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Exodus). When enforcing the death penalty on a murderer, then the family, friends, and community could gain closure. If the killer appears as crazy enough to kill someone in the first place, then they could kill someone who crosses their path again. On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from a jail in Birmingham, Alabama that “[i]njustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He writes this about civil rights, but it can also apply to any injustice in the world. If convicted of murder, but still able to live out their everyday lives, then justice has not been given to the victims. Murderers should receive the same treatment they have given to others.
Although the death penalty can provide victims of no opportunity to commit another crime, time behind bars has also shown up as a good experience for people. Jail can give criminals time to think about what they have done. Stanley Williams, co-founder of the Crips (A Los Angeles Gang), gets arrested after killing a convenience store worker during a robbery. He was also found guilty of killing a motel owner, his wife, and his daughter. Although Williams says he did not commit the second crime, he spent many years in the San Quentin prison in northern California, before finally receiving the lethal injection. Before his death, he admitted that he was a Crip and had an addiction to drugs (Williams). Williams also says he “found his own path to redemption. He re-educated himself, reading everything from the dictionary to law books. And he began writing children’s books — nine so far — and speaking out against gangs. He’s made public apologies for creating the Crips and adopting the gangster lifestyle” (Williams). Executing murderers will help to provide closure to the families, friends, and communities of the person that got killed, but if killers stay alive and go to jail, then there a possibility that they can learn from their mistakes to become a better person shows up.
Serving justice to murders by killing them seems good, but what if after the investigation finishes, and it turns out that they were not the murderer? It would be good to think that this could never happen, that the justice system could not possibly make mistakes like this. Sadly enough, it has happened before. Eight known cases have become popular in most recent times, Cameron Todd Willingham is one. Convicted and executed, he was thought to have started a fire that killed his three kids. The Texas Forensic Science Commission found him innocent years after he receiving death as a punishment (Eric). The family and friends of Cameron Todd Willingham dealt with the death of him, even though he did not commit a crime. Another case of misinterpreted data has to do with Carlos DeLuna. DeLuna received execution after getting accused of killing a convenience store clerk. However after almost twenty years, the truth revealed, and “[t]he evidence showed that Carlos Hernandez, a man who even confessed to the murder many times, actually did the crime” (Eric). Situations have arisen where cases take a complete turn after the convicted has already gotten executed; therefore, the death penalty provides justice for murders and helps people to receive what they give out.
The death penalty shows up as an important aspect in today’s society in America. The death penalty serves as a means for justice, saves tax payers money, and provides victims the guarantee that this murderer cannot ever strike again. These positive aspects of the death penalty will keep murderers from being in confinement for years, then giving them the opportunity to live their everyday life, the government brought back the death penalty to provide safety and closure for the citizens.
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