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Research paper topic: Death Penalty - 752 words
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Death Penalty For years, capital punishment has been a controversial issue in our society. Many arguments can be made in favor and against it. It ultimately, however, comes down to personal beliefs and opinions. Personally, I feel that the death penalty is a very serious punishment, and should be used very carefully and sparingly. The death penalty is unremediable.
What is done cant be corrected. This aspect of the sentence plays a heavy part in my opinion. The death penalty also is more costly than life imprisonment, and has not been found to be a greatly effective deterrent. Florida, as one example, calculated that each execution there costs some $3.18 million. If incarceration is estimated to cost the state $17000/year, a comparable statistic for life in prison of 40 years would be $680,000.(Harries and Cheatwood). Figures from the General Accounting Office are close to these results.
Total annual costs for all U.S. Prisons, State and Federal, was $17.7 billion in 1994 along with a total prison population, non-death row, of 1.1 million inmates. That amounts to $16100 per inmate/year. (Porter). From this; the cost of keeping a 25-year-old inmate for 50 years at present amounts to $805,000. Assuming 75 years as an average life span, the $805,000 figure would be the cost of life in prison. So roughly it's costing us $2 million more to execute someone than it would cost to keep them in jail for life.
This is just the dollar cost. The risk of executing innocent persons is a decisive objection to the institution of capital punishment in the United States. Consequentialist arguments (you get what you deserve) for the death penalty are inconclusive at best; the strongest justification is a retributive one. However, this argument is seriously undercut if a significant risk of executing the innocent exists. Any criminal justice system carries the risk of punishing innocent persons, but the punishment of death is unique and requires greater precautions. Mistakes can be and have been made. This mistake is not remediable.
Retributive justifications for the death penalty are grounded in respect for innocent victims of homicide; but accepting serious risks of mistaken executions demonstrates disrespect for innocent human life. United States Supreme Court decisions of the 1990s (Coleman v. Thompson and Herrara v. Collins) illustrate the existence of serious risk and suggest some explanations for it.(Linehan) Another argument for the death penalty has been that of its ability to deter people from committing crimes punishable by death. The death penalty aggravates the level of violence in society instead of diminishing it. Empirical studies indicate that it has no effect as a deterrent.(Linehan) It contributes to disrespect for human dignity and human life.
Increasingly, our society looks to violent measures to deal with some of our most difficult social problemsmillions of abortions to address problem pregnancies, advocacy of euthanasia and assisted suicide to cope with the burdens of age and illness, and increased reliance on the death penalty to deal with crime. We are tragically turning to violence in the search for quick and easy answers to complex human problems. We are losing our respect for human life. We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing. In order to display the majority of Americans uncertainty on the death penalty, Ive include the results of a recently conducted survey: When asked whether they prefer to keep or abolish the death penalty, about 60 to 80% of American adults say that they want to retain capital punishment. Numbers vary depending upon the wording of the question asked by the pollsters. When asked whether they would like to see executions continue or have them replaced with a system that guaranteed: *life imprisonment with no hope for parole *that the inmate would work in the prison to earn money *that the money would be directed to helping the family of the person(s) that they killed, about 55 to 60% of Americans prefer the latter system.
Citizens need to know the alternatives that are available.(Roby) Prison reform is a great alternative that, in my opinion, is not getting the publicity it deserves. The death penalty will continue to be one of the most heated topics of debate for years in the future. People will continue to go in circles on the issue until sincere efforts are made to find worthy alternatives. I believe that investigating alternatives is in our best interest. I also hope that it will become much harder to sentence someone to their death in the future. Hopefully this will ensure the protection of falsely accused citizens Current Events Essays.
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