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Death Penalty Essay

1006 words - 4 pages

- -The Death Penaltyby Juan BrenesAn eye for an eye, a life for a life? Does this philosophy hold true in thetwentieth century? Is the death penalty a 'Cruel and Unusual' punishment or is itnow a necessary tool in the war on crime? With the increase in crime andviolence in our society due not only to gang and drug activities, but alsopsychotic murderers, our criminal justice system must decide whether or notdeath as a form of criminal punishment is economical, non-discriminatory, and adeterrence factor of criminal activity.Although it may seem to many people expensive to keep a murderer inprison for life, the fact is it is now actually more costly to execute the inmate. Atone time it would have been cheaper to carry out the penalty of death, but nowwith all of the costs - including the financial expense and the wear and tear onour courts and prisons - a system of capital punishment is considerably moreexpensive than a criminal justice system without capital punishment (NationalLaw Journal, 1993). The costly aspect is not the feedings and other upkeep's ofthe prisoner but the judicial and correctional processes.Ordinarily criminal cases, including murder cases, are resolved by guiltypleas and without expense of a trial. All capital cases , by contrast, require jurytrials. These trials are longer, more complex and more expensive than those inother cases, including other murder cases.Although defendants are able to plead guilty to capital murder, few do.The fact is the only time that a defendant pleads guilty is when they will receivesome type of leniency, such as in the degree of the charges, the dismissal of othercharges, or an expectation of favorable consideration in sentencing (The DeathPenalty, 1989). When this bargaining occurs it usually results in a crime which isno longer a capital one.Even those who do plead guilty, however, will still have a jury trial on theissue of penalty. Not only do jury trials usually have to take place twice, but incapital cases they will also be longer and more expensive. One reason they aremore costly is that the jury selection process will be longer and involve morejurors due to the opposition many prospective jurors have to the death penalty(The Death Penalty, 1987). Opposition to the death penalty is not a ground fordisqualifying a juror from the trial unless the juror is one-hundred percentagainst it and under no condition will vote for death. As a consequence, aconsiderable amount of time is spent with the lawyers questioning availablejurors.Another problem with these capital cases is the amount of publicityreceived. This further complicates matters for the fact that when choosing ajuries must be made up of people whose views on the trial have not been tainted.To achieve this, often the trial will be relocated to a neighboring county, or jurorsmay be summoned from another county to attend the trial in the county where thecrime occurred (The Death Penalty, 1987).When the trial has concluded and the sentence...

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