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Putting An End To The Death Penalty

2230 words - 9 pages

When the country is in debt, and states are facing budget shortages, $620,932 is a lot of tax money to spend on one criminal to pursue the death penalty (“Death Penalty Information Center”). The death penalty should not be legal in the United States because putting the criminal in prison would keep people safe and cost much less money than following through with the death penalty, capital punishment has also been proven not to be a deterrent, and defendants are not treated equally. The cost alone should be enough to abolish capital punishment because of the funds it dries up when more money could go towards crime prevention. If the expenses aren’t enough for a person to realize the death penalty is a waste of resources, the fact that it is proven to not be a murder deterrent should clear up the doubt. Furthermore, the inequality in the court room is icing on cake on how unjust the justice system is in capital punishment cases. It is for these reasons that the death penalty needs to be abolished in the United States.
Background
The laws and regulations of capital punishment have significantly changed over the last couple hundred years. Britain greatly influenced the original laws of the colonies because of the European settlers. The laws then were very callous and a person could be given the death penalty for a crime as trivial as stealing fruit or hitting your mother or father. The abolitionist movement didn’t start until the mid-eighteenth century when Italian philosopher, Cesare Beccaria wrote his essay, On Crimes and Punishment). Beccaria wrote in the essay that there is no rationalization for the state taking a life. The influence of Beccaria was obvious and American intellectuals began putting a bill together to reform death penalty laws by making capital punishment only available in cases of treason and murder. Thomas Jefferson introduced this bill to Virginia and it was shot down by only one vote (“History of the Death Penalty.”).
In an effort to reform in the nineteenth century, many states moved executions from the public view to correctional facilities. They also built penitentiaries and limited the use of the death penalty and some even abolished it. In an attempt to make capital punishment laws more palatable to the public, discretionary sentences were introduced to the south in 1838. The Civil War drew attention away from the issue of the death penalty and people focused more on the civil rights movement. After the war, the electrocution chair was introduced as another method of execution along with the previous methods of hanging, beheading, and firing squad. The gas chamber was established in 1924 as a more humane execution technique. By the 1950s, public approval of capital punishment was down and many allied countries had abolished the death penalty or severely limited it. Although Americans were more hesitant to support capital punishment, a bill was never passed to eliminate it (“History of...

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