The Death Penalty Peyton Spehn

How frequently is the death penalty used?

The death penalty hasn’t been used very frequently this decade, but that is changing. According to Amnesty International, “A dramatic rise in the number of executions saw more people put to death than at any point in the last quarter-century”. The number of executions was high in the 90s but then started to drop in the early 2000s. It is starting to rise again because some states in the U.S. are bringing it back and other countries in the world use it often. The number still isn’t what it used to be but it is on the rise. James Liebman, a professor at Columbia University says, “Even as the number of people sent to death row is rising, and the number of executions climbs, the percentage of those being executed remains minuscule”. Even though the number of executions are at its highest in a while, it is still not a large amount of people getting executed. The number of people sentenced to the death penalty was almost none in the early 2000s, but that number is rising.

How expensive is the death penalty?

The death penalty is more expensive than a lot of people realize. A prisoner can sit on death row for a long time which is why it is so expensive. Glenn Barr, a reporter for Mountain News, says that “At a yearly cost of $137,102, a prisoner who sits on death row for 20 years could cost taxpayers a total of $2,742,040”. If prisoners didn’t sit on death row for multiple years, the cost would go down. A lot of the people who are against the death penalty are against it because there are cheaper solutions that some believe are more efficient. An article by Dylanni Smith states, “The average cost for taxpayers to support a prisoner with life without parole is around $90,000 less for taxpayers than supporting a prisoner on death row”. The cost for the death penalty is more than life without parole, but some people are willing to pay more because of the crimes that some of these people have done.

Why are some people against the death penalty?

A lot of people in the world are against the death penalty. The main reason that people feel that way is because it is expensive. An article by Dan Brook says that “the death penalty is quite expensive and life imprisonment can be cheaper. Over the lifetime of a case, executing prisoners can be three times as expensive as life in prison”. People don’t want to pay for the death penalty if it is that more expensive than life in prison. Another big reason is that innocent people have been put to death before. Brook also states, “Innocent people are on death row and innocent people have been put to death. A recent study concludes that 4% of people on death row in America are not guilty”. That is a big problem because you can’t reverse it when you put someone to death. Overall, those are the two biggest problems that people have with the death penalty.

Why is the death penalty used?

The places that use the death penalty use it for many reasons. The main reason is because they don’t want those crimes to happen again. According to Joe Messerli, “Perhaps the biggest reason to keep the death penalty is to prevent the crime from happening again”. Some people who get released from jail after committing crimes get out and do the same thing again. This would stop that problem because they can’t do the crime again if they are put to death. Another big reason is that it would help with the overpopulation is prison. Messerli also says that “Prisons across the country face the problem of too many prisoners and not enough space & resources. Each additional prisoner requires a portion of a cell, food, clothing, extra guard time, and so on”. Elimination the death penalty keeps more prisoners in prison for life which takes up a lot of room. The death penalty stops crimes from being repeated and keeps prisons from being overcrowded.

What are ways to improve the death penalty?

One of the biggest problems with the death penalty is that innocent people have been executed in the past. There is a way to solve that problem. The American Civil liberties union says that “the increasing use of DNA testing to help confirm the innocence or guilt in capital cases is one among many reforms that will help ensure that innocent people are not sentenced to death”. DNA testing would always give you the right answer of who did the crime and no more innocent people would get sentenced to death. Another suggested solution is that there should be clear standards for should should get sentenced to the death penalty. An article by Robert Blecker states, “We can define the worst of our worst more clearly and punish them more nearly as they deserve”. If we had standards, there wouldn’t be any debate about who would be sentenced. DNA testing and standards to who gets sentenced would improve the death penalty to make it more efficient.

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