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AnnalizaTorres

Writing10
ProfessorMoberly
13April2015
DeathPenaltyRestructuring
Background/Problem
Capitalpunishment,thedeathpenalty,isthemostseriouspunishmentsocietycan
imposeonsomeoneforcommittingacrime.Becausethedeathpenaltycan'tbereversed,
thenormalcivilrightsprotectionsthatthecriminallawprovidestodefendantsareeven
moreimportantwhencapitalpunishmentisatstake.Capitalpunishmentistheimposition
ofthedeathpenaltyonpersonscondemnedofacrime(TheCaseAgainsttheDeath
Penalty).Proponentsofcapitalpunishmentbelievethatpeoplechoosetoobeyorviolate
thelawaftercalculatingthegainsandconsequencesoftheiractions.Overall,however,it
isdifficulttoprovetheeffectivenessofdeterrencesinceonlythoseoffendersnotdeterred
cometothenoticeoflawenforcement.CapitalPunishmenthasnotdemonstratedgreater
deterrenteffectsofpunishmentthanlessseverepenalties. Californiansengagedinthe
debateover themorality andeffectiveness ofthe death penalty, as wellas issues of
discrimination in its application; often mistakenly assume its unquestioned presence
throughoutCalifornianhistory. Thetruthisthattheargumentismuchgreaterthanan
issueofdifferentviewpoints,morality,ethicsandvalues(Potter). Californiaisastate,
whichsupportscapitalpunishment;itisalsoastatethatveryrarelyexecutesitdeathrow
inmates.Thecostofhavingsomanyinmatesondeathrowiscontributingtomorecrime
inCalifornia.However, Californiacontinues tosentencepeopletothedeathpenalty,

usuallyforthecrimeofspecialcircumstancesmurder. AccordingtotheFederalBureau
ofInvestigation,therewere729peopleondeathrowinCaliforniainAugustof2012.
ThefutureofcapitalpunishmentinCaliforniaiscurrentlyindoubt.Thedeathpenaltyin
Californiahasbeenonholdwhilethestatetriestofixtheflawsinitssystem. Also,in
November of 2012, California voters will vote on an initiative to abolish the death
penaltyaltogether.Ifthisinitiativepasses,itwillspelltheendofcapitalpunishmentin
Californiaandthemaximumpunishmentforanycrimewillbecomelifeinprisonwithout
thepossibilityofparole. Fornow,therearestillover700peoplestuckondeathrowin
California andmorewillbeaddedtothatlistasmorepeoplearesentencedtodeath.The
state of California is currently suffering from a state deficit; it would seem wise to
restructurethedeathpenaltyasitstandsnow.Aspoliticalleadersgatherinthesenateand
review the gravity of the states situation, political leaders should examine how
restructuringthedeathpenaltyandimplementinglifewithoutparolewouldbebeneficial
forthestateandthoseresidingwithinthestateitself.
Solution
Thedeathpenaltyhasalotofreasonstogoagainstit.Manybelieveitsnotright
tokillsomeoneforkillinganotherperson.Significantoversightssuchasdifferentiating
between the risks of executing an innocent person, costs of the capital punishment
process,andmoralityissuesarehinderingmanypeopletodetectofthepurposeofthe
capital punishment. Some people also deemed capital punishment in California an
unsuccessful deterrent to crimes. The death penalty process in California is broken.
Opponentsofthedeathpenaltyclaimthatabolishingthedeathpenaltyandreplacingit

withalifetimeprisontermwillsaveCaliforniamoneywhileadequatelypunishingthose
convictedofcommittingsocietysmostheinouscrimes.
Commonsensesubstantiatesnoneoftheseclaims. Howmuchmoneywillbe
saved byincarcerating a murderer for the remainder oftheir lives when the average
annualcostofincarcerationinCaliforniaismorethan$47,000perinmate?Californias
deathpenaltyisbroken,butitcanbefixedbystreamliningtheappealprocessesand
endingtheunnecessarydelaysthatdenyjusticetothefamiliesofcrimevictims.
Manysaythedeathpenaltyistoocostly,theappealprocessistoolong,and
justiceisntfastenough. Iagree,butwhyareotherstatescapableofbringingmuch
swifterjusticethanCalifornia?Forexample,ittooktwostates,MarylandandVirginia,
withseparatejudicialsystemslessthansevenyearstoconvict,sentenceandexecuteJohn
Allen Muhammad, the D.C. Beltway Sniper. Moreover, in the past three decades
Texashasexecuted479oftheirmostruthlessconvictedcriminalswhileCaliforniahas
executedonly13ofthe709onitsdeathrow.
CaliforniaChiefJusticeTaniCantilSakauyesaid,Ifthedeathpenaltyremains
thewillofthepeople,weneedtotalkaboutprioritiesandcosts,andifitstillisthewillof
thepeople,thenitisclearrestructuringisneeded.In1986Californiavoterstossedthree
State Supreme Court Justices out of office when they refused to enforce the death
penalty.Sinceenforcingthedeathpenaltyisclearlystillthewillofthepeople,Iagree
withtheChiefJusticethatitstimetorestructureit.
Byreformingthe appeals process forthose cases withspecialcircumstances,
Californiawillensurejusticeisnotunnecessarilydelayed. Itwilltakethestrainoff

families whove had to relive the tragedy they suffered every five years in onerous
technicalappeals,andpreventthosewhoseguiltiscertainfromgettingdefactoretrialsat
thestateshighestlevelofjustice,forcingvictimslovedonestostandtrialagain. By
strengtheningtheprocess,itwillensurejusticeforthefamiliesofcrimevictims.Noone
believesweshouldpunishthosethatdontdeserveit.Moreover,theJusticedelayedis
justicedenied. Thereisnogreaterthreattoafreesocietythantheweakeningofits
criminallaws.
Conclusion
Thecapitalpunishmentsdeterrenteffectsareoneoftheirprimaryarguments.But
thereisnoconclusiveevidencethatthedeathpenaltydeterswouldbecriminalsfrom
theiractofviolence.CountlessstudieshaveshownthatthemurderrateintheUnited
Stateshasnotgonedownsincethestateswereallowedtokillin1976.Inreality,the
murderratehasincreased,duetothebrutalizationfactorthatthepunishmentcreates.
Thereshouldbenodoubtthatthedeathpenaltyisanexpensive,brutal,andineffective
deterrenttocrime.However,itwouldseemwisetorestructurethedeathpenaltyasit
standsnow.Aspoliticalleadersgatherinthesenateandreviewthegravityofthestates
situation, political leaders should examine how restructuring the death penalty and
implementinglifewithoutparolewouldbebeneficialforthestateandthoseresiding
withinthestateitself.

WorksCited
Potter,Gary."TheAdvocate."Cost,Deterrence,Incapacitation,Brutalizationandthe
DeathPenaltytheScientificEvidence:StatementbeforetheJointInterimHealth
andWelfareCommittee22.Print.
"TheCaseAgainsttheDeathPenalty."AmericanCivilLibertiesUnion.Web.18Mar.
2015.<https://www.aclu.org/capitalpunishment/caseagainstdeathpenalty>.