Failures of Capital Punishment
Is the death penalty a just way of punishing those who commit a horrible crime? The answer to that depends on the standpoint of an individual. Fox Butterfield of the New York Times notices that “In the view of some, the failure to enforce the death penalty reflects and enduring ambivalence about the capital punishment. Others say that the death penalty opponents have found ways to triumph over the public will to carry out executions.” In a capitalistic standpoint, there is the notion that it simply costs too much. There is another and more simple standpoint and that is that the death penalty is not working. This is where I personally stand on the issue. The death penalty is a just punishment for a convicted individual, but the system in the United States is not functioning properly for it to be a means of punishment.
As far as deterrence goes, Amnesty international states that “studies have consistently failed to find convincing evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments.” Roger Hood, an author that wrote The Death Penalty: A World-wide Perspective, Notes the UN’s research on the subject and states that “ ‘Research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment and such proof is unlikely forthcoming. The evidence as a whole still gives no positive support to the deterrent hypothesis….” Hood is strongly for the abolition of the death penalty. He explains that “abolition has harmful effects. In Canada, the homicide rate per 100,000 population fell from a peak of 3.09 in 1975, the year before the abolition of the death penalty for murder, to 2.41 in 1980, and since then it has remained relatively stable.” This supports the fact that deterrence is not an issue as far as crime goes in relation to the death penalty.
The failure to enforce the death penalty is a problem with the system. The question raised by Fox Butterfield of the New York Times is this: “why can’t a nation where 70 percent of the population says it supports the death penalty achieve its stated goal: to speed up the process and deliver swift justice to its most vicious criminals?” There is the statement that Americans are ambivalent about capital punishment regardless of the polls. There is the willingness of judges to hear the many...