Just Kill ‘Em?
The United States has a long history with the death penalty. The “first recorded execution was in Jamestown in 1608” (“Death Penalty in America” 259). Since then, thirty five states have continued to use the death penalty. Now it can be considered a normal punishment and many people feel strongly about it, but maybe we should forget what we have done in the past and take a second look. The death penalty should not be used in the United States because it is too expensive, affects the poor and minorities more than others, and (even though many people think it is true) the death penalty does not deter crime.
A common argument for the death penalty is the idea of “an eye for an eye.” If someone commits murder then they should be killed as a punishment, but how much are we willing to pay for this way of thinking? An eye for an eye comes with a large price tag. According to an article in the California Law Review, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California did a study to see how much California was spending on the death penalty. The ACLU found out that taxpayers spend “$117 million per year seeking execution of the people currently on death row. This number amounts over time to $4 billion more that the state would have spent if these inmates had been sentenced to life without parole” (Colon, 1380). Author Sara Colon also mentions that considering the “current fiscal crisis” in California, “the costs of capital punishment seem prohibited” (Colon, 1380). We could have used those $4 billion dollars on other things like welfare programs, health care, or putting that money into colleges for young people’s education.
Nowadays, it is becoming harder for people to get a college education and California is not helping with all the budget cuts and is not spending as much money on education as it does on prisons and punishing criminals. Huffington Post author, Aaron Sankin writes that “Since 1980 higher education spending has decreased by 13 percent” and the spending on prisons and other “correctional programs has skyrocketed by 436 percent” (Sankin, 1). This is an example of how we do not have our priorities straight. Putting our money into things like the death penalty takes away from actually helping people. This type of spending leaves a burden for students because over the years California has not been giving as much money to the universities and “as a result, the higher education system has been forced to rely more heavily on student tuition” (Sankin, 1). Not only is the death penalty too expensive but it makes it too expensive for tax payers, making it harder for families and young adults to get a college education.
Those numbers and statistics are only for California, what about other states that have higher rates of death penalty executions? “Over 80 percent of executions are in the South” and the states of “Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Virginia – account for the vast majority of...