The Rage to Kill Those who Kill
Few issues in the United Stated today are as emotionally charged and controversial as the death penalty. More formally known as capital punishment, the death penalty has been hotly debated not only as a legal issue, but as a religious, ethical, and political one, historically as well as in the present day.
Parts of the criminal justice system are straightforward, requiring little interpretation or subjective thinking to understand their meaning. For example, law enforcement officials must properly collect and introduce evidence to determine whether a subject did in fact commit a crime. And once a suspect is apprehended, very clear rules are followed on the process of his or her arrest. Crimes themselves are clearly defined, as well: murder, arson, robbery. The constitution is specifying that the death penalty may be used, but warns that there are certain stipulations that must first be met.
Does the death penalty really deter crime? The death lobby wants you to believe the answer to that question is "yes." But, in fact, it is a resounding "NO." Consider this…the US is the only Western nation that still allows the death penalty, and we also have on the highest crime rates. During the 1980's, death penalty states averaged an annual rate of 7.5 criminal homicides per 100,000, while abolition states averaged a rate of 7.4 per 1000,000. That means murder was actually MORE common in states that use the death penalty. Also consider this…. in a nationwide survey of police chiefs and sheriffs, capital punishment was ranked LAST as a way of reducing violent crime. Only twenty-six percent thought that the death penalty significantly reduces the number of homicides. The theory behind the deterrence doctrine is flawed itself. Murders do not examine risk/reward charts before they kill someone. Being a criminal is inherently irrational…life imprisonment ought to deter a rational person itself. Besides, no criminal commits a crime if he believes he will be caught.
The eighth Amendment to the Constitution protects us form the use of excessive bail and fines. It also protects us from cruel and unusual punishment. In 1972 the courts ruled in favor of Furman, in Furman vs. Georgia, on the grounds that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment. Unfortunately, the decision was revoked in 1976, a mere four years later. There was no time taken to see if the change would affect the rate of violent crimes committed in the United States today.
"The death penalty is not now, nor has it ever been a more economical alternative to life imprisonment." said Spangenberg and Walsh. A study by the NY State Defenders Association showed that the cost of capital trial ALONE is more than double the cost of life imprisonment. In Maryland, a comparison of capital trial costs with and without the death penalty for the years 1979- 1984 concluded that a death penalty case costs "approximately 42...