Research Position by oHearnj8

The Most Expensive and Imaginary Punishment

People in the United States often think that the use of capital punishment is cheaper than giving life sentences but this is simply not the case. Capital punishment is extraordinarily more expensive than life without parole. According to a former jurist from California, Donald McCartin, “it’s 10 times more expensive to kill than to keep them[prisoners] alive.” When the death penalty is spoken about, the argument is not whether killing a man is morally right but, if killing a man is cheaper than sentencing a man to life. Advocates that support capital punishment insist that we need punishment this severe to deter people from committing horrible crimes. Advocates of the death penalty have failed to reveal any statistics that show an increased deterrence in states that use the death penalty over states that do not use the death penalty. If the advocates are informed it’s not cheaper or effective to use the death penalty than they might be reconsider their views on the death penalty.

Capital punishment has been one of many shadows that covers the United States history. The costs of capital punishment alone are radical in comparison to other forms of punishment such as life in prison and the deterrent effect on crime is little to none. Even with these obvious downfalls of capital punishment, there are still states that practice capital punishment, but the death penalty should to be done away with completely. As of now there are still 31 states that still use the death penalty. Of those states the last to abolish the death penalty was Nebraska in 2015 and the first was Michigan as early as 1886. There is about a 130 year gap in between the abolishing of the death penalty. All of the states that have done away with capital punishment have done so to save money.

A Kansas State senator Carolyn McGinn was quoted in a statement saying, “We’ve had the death penalty since 1994, and we continue to pay for the process with little results…But we continue to cut the programs that could prevent these types of crimes.” Many politicians do not realize that the United States Government can save money by abolishing the death penalty, which would present an opportunity to  designate more funding to programs that prevent crime. Putting money back into deterring crime so less people commit crimes should be politician main goal instead of the hoax that is the death penalty. In implementing measures to stop these major crimes from happening we can try and find the root cause of why these criminals murder.

The appeal process is something that people do not think about when thinking about capital punishment.  People assume once a criminal is given the death penalty that the criminal is almost instantly put to death but this is simply not the case. Appeals elongate the prisoner’s sentence even after a conviction and the sentencing to be put to death. Not only are the appeals process time consuming but they are also very expensive for the states that still use the death penalty. The death penalty is substantially more expensive than giving someone life in jail without parole. There have been reports in which it’s stated that by abolishing the death penalty in a state will save them 90 million dollars annually. In Florida it was learned that each death penalty costs the state 3 million dollars extra to sentence a man to death than to keep them locked away for life.

The University of Denver Law performed a study on the appeals process which found that the, “LWOP cases took an average of 526 days to complete; death cases took almost 4 calendar years longer–1,902 days.” The study is astounding in how it puts  the length of these cases into a perspective of an exact number of days. The appeals can take so long due to there being a life at stake. The constitution requires a long and complex process when dealing with capital punishment.The death penalty is a final solution and can’t be undone. Everything must be done to make sure that no innocent person is be put to death. By sentencing a person to life in prison, countless amounts of money can be used in other areas to actually lower crime and help the community. There are various programs in the community that could use this money including the local police, roads, drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinics. Some of these alternatives can lead to lower recidivism rates which the death penalty is not doing.

In recent studies done by a Supreme Court of Appeals Judge Arthur L. Alarcon, he found that California has spent an outstanding $4 billion dollars on capital punishment since the reinstatement of it back in 1978. Yet there were only a total of thirteen death sentenced fulfilled resulting in about $308 million dollars for each of those executions. The majority of this money is being spent on legal expenses and can run the state around $184 million each year.  The study also found that California has not executed anyone since 2006 due to legal reason with their use of lethal injection. If the state has not executed anyone since then, than why have they not done away with capital punishment altogether. As a result of California abolishing the death penalty they can use the amount of money to greatly help the terrible prison conditions that inmates are faced with and also the rehabilitation for the inmates to help their habits and issues. That money that had been spent on capital punishment would have been better if it was burned. Judge Alarcon sees the cost of keeping the death penalty will more than double by 2030. If this happens there will be an even greater problem than what the United States has faced to date.

The people that are actually paying for this is the taxpayers of the states that still use it. Taxes are raised and the local police budgets are cut in order to get the money needed to keep capital punishment. The states are raising taxes and cutting budgets to make money to give someone the death penalty but no money is raised for the victims of the crimes. If the politicians are not going to formally put an end to the death penalty then they must try to make it cheaper. There is just no possible ways to make a significant cut in death penalty cost. In states like Texas where the death penalty is quicker than most states, the costs are still four times as much as life without parole. A former supporter the death penalty who ultimately switched sides was James Abbott, a police chief in West Orange, New Jersey. Abbott said, “As a police chief, I find this use of state resources offensive… Give a law enforcement professional like me that $250 million, and I’ll show you how to reduce crime. The death penalty isn’t anywhere on my list.” More and more people are realizing there is no need for the death penalty anymore.

The death penalty is practically a fictitious idea that is only there to scare people into not committing the heinous acts that land them the death penalty. The problem is there are no facts backing the death penalty when it comes to deterrence rates. In cases where the death penalty is handed down, they do not always get carried out. The argument that the death penalty deters crime can be rebutted by strong evidence. According to The North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, North Carolina has not executed anyone since 2006 and have not sentenced anyone to death. Yet the murder rate in North Carolina has been on the decline with no one being executed. For some people this would seem surprising that there was a decline in murder even though the death penalty was not being given.

The terrible criminals that are to be put to death would not be deterred from crime due to many of them not being cognitive during the act. They do not think about the consequences whilst engaging in the act of murder. Even in some studies it is found that the murder rate increases in states that support the death penalty still. Looking at the murder rate nationally in states that do not practice capital punishment it shows the rates lower as well.

A survey done asked police chiefs across the country in the accuracy of a few statements. In this survey they were asked if the statements were accurate or inaccurate. The first statement was, “The death penalty significantly reduces the number of homicide rates.” The greater number of chiefs found this statement to be inaccurate. Another statement was, “Murderers think about the range of possible punishments before committing homicides,” and the percentage of chiefs  was almost seventy percent of the officers. In the research that can be found it shows a great number of law officials that do not feel capital punishment is necessary in this country anymore.Politicians are always looking to get elected as much as they can by almost any means necessary. Many of them speak about exactly what the voters want to hear. The people often times want to vote for someone who is tough on crime and this includes keeping capital punishment even though there is no factual evidence revealing that it does not have any effect on crime.

Everyday More states are coming to realize the pointlessness of the death penalty. Every year there is another state coming to this conclusion based off factual evidence. It is a matter of time until the entire country will have abolished the death penalty. The country will have been able to use the capital punishment budget to make greater strides in crime prevention. The death penalty is the most expensive form of punishment in the criminal justice system with the lowest deterrence rate of all. This would seem counterintuitive to keep putting money into a program that does not solve any crime problems.

Work Cited

“Wasteful and Inefficient.” <i>Wasteful and Inefficient</i>. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

“COSTS: New Study Reveals California Has Spent $4 Billion on the Death Penalty.” <i>COSTS: New Study Reveals California Has Spent $4 Billion on the Death Penalty</i>. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

“Death Penalty Focus : The High Cost of the Death Penalty.” Death Penalty Focus : The High Cost of the Death Penalty. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015

“Prison Spending Rises, Even as Inmate Population Plummets.” <i>Southern California Public Radio</i>. N.p., 29 Sept. 2015. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

“Death Penalty Does Not Deter Crimes.” NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

“Law Enforcement Views on Deterrence.” <i>Law Enforcement Views on Deterrence</i>. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

This entry was posted in A15: Research Position, P/ohearnj8. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Research Position by oHearnj8

  1. ohearnj8 says:

    Feedback was requested.

    Feedback provided.
    —DSH

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  2. davidbdale says:

    P1. You’re selling your argument short here, ohearn, by getting the emphasis wrong in the first sentence. Most Americans don’t think of the cost of capital punishment first at all. Their first opinion is a moral one: it’s either moral or immoral to kill convicts. Their second is a practical one: the death penalty either deters crime or it doesn’t. Their third one probably has to do with rehabilitation or the likelihood that we often kill the wrong suspect.

    You’re the one raising the financial argument, but you’re giving away all the credit for having decided to think in a fresh way when you declare that we already have opinions on the cost aspect. You could devote a paragraph to naming and dismissing those other aspects one by one until you reveal that your essay will examine a little-discussed objection to capital punishment: It’s WAY too expensive!

    There’s a problem with your citation technique. I did tell you that Informal Citation plus hyperlinks to the sources was the right combination, and it is. The trouble with your very first citation is that it doesn’t identify which source the quote came from. We don’t know Donald McCartin, and we can’t find his name in the Works Cited, and you didn’t provide us a link to the source in the citation sentence.

    So, for example, if McCartin’s quote came from the “Wasteful and Inefficient” source, you should cite him in this way:

    The website Equal Justice America quotes former California jurist Donald McCartin as saying, “It’s 10 times more expensive to kill than to keep them [prisoners] alive.”

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  3. davidbdale says:

    You repeat that “when the death penalty is spoken about,” the argument is about cost, but again, that’s so rarely the topic that you’re undermining the value of your fresh outlook.

    Then you confound that problem by shifting the focus immediately from cost to effectiveness as if one proved the other.

    Try not to make your “opponents” defensive by challenging them directly, ohearn. When you say, “If the advocates are informed it’s not cheaper or effective to use the death penalty than they might be reconsider their views on the death penalty,” I can hear them answering, “Try it, punk.”

    Leave them out of your sentences.
    The death penalty is neither more effective nor cheaper than life without parole. All it does is cost more, deter no one, and increase the odds that we’ll kill the wrong man.

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  4. davidbdale says:

    P2. Wordy sentences increase the likelihood of grammar errors, ohearn.

    —”one of many shadows that covers” makes a mistake of number disagreement that is entirely avoidable.
    —Capital punishment is a shadow that covers United States history.

    You repeat yourself needlessly in many sentences:
    —Even with these obvious downfalls of capital punishment, there are still states that practice capital punishment,
    — there are still 31 states that still use the death penalty.

    Even within those sentences, you repeat yourself
    —Even with these obvious downfalls of capital punishment (first), there are still states that practice capital punishment (second),
    — there are still (first) 31 states that still (second) use the death penalty.

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  5. davidbdale says:

    P3. Your sentences beginning with “By gerunding . . .” create syntax problems.

    —By sentencing a person to life in prison, countless amounts of money can be used in other areas to actually lower crime and help the community.

    This sentence says that countless amounts of money sentence convicts to life in prison.
    What you mean is:
    —SENTENCING a person to life in prison, SAVES countless amounts of money THAT can be used in other areas to actually lower crime and help the community.

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  6. davidbdale says:

    Here’s another hidden number problem that results from overwriting, ohearn:
    —The people that are actually paying for this is the taxpayers of the states that still use it.

    Avoid the error of people/is by simplifying your claim:
    —The taxpayers of the states that still execute their prisoners have to foot the bill.

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  7. davidbdale says:

    You’ve done a lot to clarify and narrow your argument, ohearn, to make a more compelling case for a small but crucial aspect of an argument, which makes your contribution to the conversation worthwhile.

    Your language skills take longer to improve, and you’ve had to do a lot of catching up. You’re far from a smooth writer still, but I’ve been gratified to see the progress you’ve made by paying closer attention to your language.

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