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The Reason Justice Should not get Executed
Death has always been a large part of human culture. Throughout the annals of time, the idea of causing or being subject to death has always acted as the spark of many arguments, some of which still face us in present days. One of those is capital punishment. The idea of killing someone for an act of murder or treason has been both strongly supported and strongly opposed in the United States of America. However, more evidence stands in favor of capital punishment, mostly in the sake of practicality. Those convicted and tried for the death penalty are dangerous and must be removed from society completely (either via life without parole or the death penalty). Also, against common misconception, capital punishment is economically sound. Therefore, practicality rules that capital punishment is a more viable option. More reinforcement for this assertion is founded in the recent advances in criminology, as well as the current support that the United States has for capital punishment. First and foremost, the dangerous criminals who currently reside in society must be taken out. If a person is given the two choices of LWOP (Life Without Parole) or capital punishment, chances are high that the given person is a killer. In fact, in a 2007 list (the most recent update) of offenses recognized by the Federal Government as reasons for capital punishment, only two did not directly involve the killing of others. 18 U.S.C. 2381 stands for treason, while 18 U.S.C. 794 deals with espionage; spying on the United States Government or housing/assisting those that do1. The reason for this is in the statistics from the Bureau of Justice, which
show that all executions since 2005 have been for subjects who were convicted of killing, usually with aggravating circumstances (such as death involving robbery, the use of a dangerous weapon, or murder involving narcotics) to match. It is important that these people are completely and totally taken out from society, so that they do not murder anyone else. A good example of this is the Robert Cotton’s brutal massacre in a maximum security prison by fellow inmate Pete van Winkle, a recognized member of the dangerous criminal gang called the “Aryan Nation”. For a full twenty minutes, no guards came. No one took any action to stop the murder2. What this goes to show is that those who have killed or attempted to can do so again. It also shows how dangerous even LWOP cases are – if a person is placed in a maximum security prison, and still manages to kill one of his inmates; he is most definitely a danger to society and must be removed immediately. And of all the people like him, only 10-20% are placed in maximum security prisons. With it established that murderers must be taken out of society’s equation, the two viable options are life without parole, and execution. Both of these have their positive and negative impacts, but from a view that uses only logical thought, the solution that deals with the problem the most quickly and most efficiently is the right solution. The average person in an LWOP case spends approximately 50 years in prison before death, not including trial and appeals time. The average person in a capital punishment case spends around 8 years in prison (the longest amount of time is about 12 years, in California’s justice system3), so capital punishment seems to be the quickest option, cutting the time that criminals in murder cases spend alive by 76% at the least. Secondly, capital punishment is also less expensive, though many beliefs vie against this idea. The Coalition of Abolish the Death Penalty’s website quotes: “Florida spends an average of $3.2 million to execute an
inmate, six times more than it spends to keep a person in prison for life.”4 and the Death Penalty Information Center says that California’s current death penalty system costs $137 million annually. It also projects that “The cost of a system which imposes a maximum penalty of lifetime incarceration instead of the death penalty would be $11.5 million per year.”5 Those huge cost differences, as pointed out by many protestors, defy the assertion that the death penalty costs less. However, it does. Florida has a high crime rate6, which is increasing steadily, so its prisonsentencing system is both more efficient and its jails have fewer guards assigned to larger groups of convicts7. California has its own problems to contend with as well. According to the 2008 yearend report from the Death Penalty Information Center, California’s justice system is falling apart all around, and needs another 4 years of maintenance before it can get up and running efficiently again3. In a system like this, the regular length of trial and appeals time is increased to 50-100% more than the average state justice system8. So of course a state like this would have such statistics; by taking out the 12 year period of checking and rechecking during appeals, the costs of the justice system would more than significantly decrease. However, this doesn’t point to whether capital punishment should be banned or not – it just shows the poor condition of California’s justice system. The real cost was researched and published by Dudley Sharp of the Death Penalty Resources Department in October 1997. By substituting certain statistics of his for others, in order to give the calculations a more modern partiality, the cost of executing someone comes out to be 2.6 million dollars, while the cost of keeping a person in LWOP for the average 50 years comes out to be $2.8 million. The actual average costs change the whole game plan – truth be told, it actually costs 200 thousand dollars more to house someone for life, as opposed to giving them capital
punishment. And since 2004, 249 people have been executed in the United States, generating a savings of 49.8 million dollars9. Now, if capital punishment is obviously economically viable, and it has already been established that murderers must be taken out of society, then all support points towards capital punishment – there can be no other logical answer. But past the barrier of cold logic, other problems arise to face advocates of the death penalty. Much of this opposition comes from protestors who argue the case of wrongful convictions. This notion is a very sensible one, especially be comparison to the many other assertions utilized by those who rally against death penalties. In fact, Radelet and Debeu reported in 1998 that 416 people were found to be innocent10 in 4,359 cases starting from 1930. The result rounds out to about 9.3% of the executed11. However, in these cases Of course, much of the strongest opposition also comes from the protestors who argue the case of wrongful conviction. This notion is a very sensible one, especially by comparison to the many other assertions utilized by those who rally against death penalties. In fact, Radelet and Bedeu, well-known criminologists, reported in 1998
that 416 people were found to be innocent9 in 4,359 cases starting from 1930. The
result rounds out to about 9.3% of the executed10. However, most of the wrongful executions happened before 1986, the year DNA testing had begun to be used in criminology.11 And all of the cases also came after 1901, when fingerprint identification was first used in criminology.12 Today, criminologists have helped prove approximately 10% more people innocent than was possible 25 years ago. And for all the protest, capital punishment still seems to receive strong support from the American people. Information made available by a religious tolerance group shows that approximately 70% of the American population supports
capital punishment13, and 36 states in the U.S.A. currently allow capital punishment.8 Take those states and divide their number by the U.S.A.’s total of 50, and the product shows to be 70%, which accurately reflects the population’s feeling towards the general issue. And after seeing such a great fuss about capital punishment in the media, it must be concluded that those who are opposed to capital punishment are simply making more noise. In reality, more people support capital punishment than the other way around, as it is often made to be seen. Now there is a different solution. As opposed to the continuous fight between sustaining a crime deterrent versus shutting it down; continuing to kill people as opposed to letting them live, the third option, the middle ground, is also available. PhD-certified Physicist Ayla Kol proposed the idea of castration for adult male offenders. She also suggested a machine, such as one used for diabetics, that would provide a continuous chemical injection into the subject men to decrease their testosterone level, and thus their danger to society.14 Both ideas are actually quite sound. From the years 2004-2007, 213 people were executed in the U.S. Only one of those executed was a woman.15 Another idea, suggested by a retired industrial designer, recommended that criminals participate in medical experiments too dangerous to warrant asking for volunteers, or for those with unpredictable outcomes16 (Possibly as subjects for the same testosterone-reducing technology as mentioned above.) Regardless of the idea, neither capital punishment nor LWOP need to be always used. If both options remain open, and more are added over time, the available ways of dealing with a capital offender will be at their best, without loss of either alternative. Nothing makes more sense than a fully-functional system that can make good choices. And there is no better system of selecting from those choices, than the one
of absolute logic. Absolute logic has resolved the argument of capital punishment by dislodging the old argument of the economy from the side opposing the death penalty, and also by emphasizing the need for criminals to be removed from society, the advances in criminology, and the current support that the United States has for capital punishment. And after that, the compromise brought up also pinpoints that both the death penalty and the punishment of life without parole can exist in tandem, instead of as opposing forces. There is no need for the death penalty to be abolished; life is, in fact, better because of its existence.
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