America Needs a Tougher Death Penalty
Pain. Anger. Frustration. Hatred. These feeble words do not describe the anguish felt by the families of murder victims. Ted Bundy was responsible for the deaths of more than 50 young women across the United States.(Lamar 34) Bundy was finally sentenced to death by the state of Florida in 1978 for the kidnapping and brutal murder of a 12 year old girl and the deaths of 2 Florida State sorority sisters.(Lamar 34) As if the loss of a loved one is not enough for a family to contend with, Bundy remained on death row for nearly 10 years. Three stays of execution and endless appeals kept Bundy alive for almost a decade, when his victims lives were untimely and viciously taken from them.(Lamar 34) If a sentence of death is handed down, then it should be enforced, not as a question of morality, but simply as an act of justice.
The moral issue of whether the death penalty is right or wrong and its constitutionality, is beyond the scope of this paper. The death penalty already exists in 36 states, and given its existence it should be enforced. The problem that arises within the criminal justice system as it is currently written in the law books becomes the focus of this discussion. Since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, 36 States have legislated capital punishment statutes.(Capital Punishment 1992) All but 13 states and the District of Columbia have death as a sentencing option, including Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.(Norman 1) Since capital punishment is already in existence, the problem is that it is not enforced. This lack of enforcement translates into inefficient functioning of the criminal justice system.
Two reasons why the death penalty should be enforced are saved time, by the court system through limited appeals, and saved money, by taxpayers due to reduced court and imprisonment fees. Much of the court's time could be saved if death row inmates were limited to a set number of appeals in a reasonable amount of time. Facilitating numerous appeals results in many unforeseen costs. In 1992, expenditures on criminal justice activities by all federal, state, and local governments combined reached $299 per capita.(BJS) Ted Bundy's 10 year stay on death row, involving numerous appeals and excessive imprisonment fees, eventually cost the Florida state taxpayers more than $6 million dollars.(Lamar 34) These expenses are unnecessary and unjustifiable and could be alleviated by limiting appeals. In addition to this, public defense expenditures reached a startling $16.4 billion in 1990, which breaks down to about $7 per capita for each case tried in public defense costs alone.(Capital Punishment 1992) Although these figures are for total spending on public defense, it is easy to deduce that by limiting the number of appeals for death row inmates, these...