|The Death Penalty: A Research Paper
Author: Pocket Muse PM
This was my English 11 research paper. I received a 100 on it and explained my views on a very touchy, and controversial topic. Please tell me your thoughts in a review.Rated: Fiction T - English - Crime/Drama - Words: 1,115 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 08-20-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2945111
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
4 March 2011
I Declare a Moratorium
In the late 1960s, Charles Milles Manson led a cult-like group called the Manson Family. The Family committed multiple murders under the instruction of Manson; Charles Manson himself never committed a murder but was convicted through the joint-responsibility rule. The joint-responsibility rule, according to the Wikipedia article on Manson, "…makes each member of a conspiracy guilty of crimes his fellow conspirators commit in furtherance of the conspiracy's object." Charles received the death sentence on April 19, 1971. In February of 1972 the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional and Manson was given life in prison. Stanley "Tookie" Williams was executed in the year 2005, in the state of California. For twenty-one years Tookie evaded the ultimate punishment for his numerous crimes. His notorious career as an Original Gangster began with the co-founding of the Crips street gang; the 1979 murder and robbery of a store clerk; and the massacre of a Taiwanese immigrant family. Take into account that the murders of the family occurred only two weeks after the store clerk was shot. There was a massive PR campaign launched in his honor to give him support. Tookie was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize! When did shooting families and store employees become praiseworthy? Tookie even had his life played out on the silver screen in the film "Redemption" ("Killing"). Both Charles Manson and Stanley "Tookie" Williams received the death penalty yet only one of them has been executed since California reinstated the death penalty in 1977. On a broader scale: if California has 706 death row inmates and 13 of these men have been put to death since capital punishment was reinstated in 1977, it stands to reason the death penalty is a formality, nothing more ("Governor Needs New"). It squanders our tax dollars and executions are hardly carried out. Just look at Charles Manson and the 20 plus years Tookie had under his belt.
Speaking of tax dollars, on average $137 million per year is spent on the current death penalty system, while an estimated $11.5 million per year would be spent if the maximum penalty were life in prison instead. These numbers are from the report of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, courtesy of the Death Penalty Information Center. There is also the $90,000 spent per year per inmate under the sentence of life without possibility of parole. As recently as 2009 there were 3,261 inmates in prisons across the nation on death row; that's $293,490,000 tax dollars. If every prisoner sentenced to death were actually executed in a timely fashion, couldn't that money go towards funding Outreach programs and such? Not quite, because the cost of housing an inmate for life is far cheaper and less controversial than execution. The drug used in lethal injection is expensive and the manufacturer has recently announced that they will no longer produce the drug. And although the drug shortage hasn't stopped any executions, it has delayed some. Taking into account the cost of housing an inmate on death row and the cost of executing him—it is vastly more cost-effective to repeal the death penalty altogether.
Today the death sentence is a perverse, twisted take on "an eye for an eye" except it puts lives at stake—possibly innocent lives. Since 1992, at least 39 executions are claimed to have been carried out in the U.S. in the face of evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt. The Death Penalty Information Center has since published a list of eight inmates "executed but possibly innocent"("Wrongful Death"). In death rows across the nation, 126 people were freed after evidence of their innocence came to light. There is no fair way to decide who dies in the electric chair and who rots in a prison cell for life; it isn't our right as humans to play "God". There is always the possibility of placing an innocent man on death row, but considering how the average time spent from sentencing to execution there is ample time for appeals to be made. Though, as with parole hearings, appeals can be overturned. No matter how many safeguards they put into effect, there is still that list of eight, possibly innocent inmates who were executed.
Factors that play key parts in whether or not a defendant is slated for death are largely determined by race. Statistically, 45.3% of death row inmates are Caucasian; 41.7% are African American; 10.7% are Hispanic; and 2.3% are other races, according to studies done by Kathleen MacRae. Hispanics are on the rise as the fastest growing ethnic group on death rows around the country (MacRae). Seeing how the percentile of whites to blacks is nearly equal, the numbers of blacks to whites calling these shots are few. Whites dominate those making the decisions about who lives and who dies. Since 1976, in cases involving interracial murders, 15 whites have been executed for murdering blacks while a mind-blowing 216 blacks have been executed for the murder of whites! If our legal system is prejudiced, how can we expect justice to be served? Better for a man to receive a life sentence over a rape than to be executed for it based on his race. This evens out the lines between races; any man convicted of rape would get life, whether he was black, white, Asian, or Hispanic.
In conclusion, the death sentence is a house of cards. It is a money-consuming monster. It lowers human beings to committing legalized murder under the guise of public service. Capital punishment is no longer effective in deterring crime, nor is it time efficient in this day and age.
"Charles Manson." . Wikipedia, n.d. Web. 1 March 2011.
"Commentary: Beyond N.J.: Death-Penalty Repeal Inevitable." Santa Fe New Mexican [Santa Fe, NM] 5 Jan. 2008: A-5. Custom Newspapers. Web. 15 Feb. 2011.
Death Penalty Information Center. Death Penalty Information Center. DPIC, 2010. Web. 1 March 2011.
"Governor Needs New Budget, Not Funds for New Death Row." The Modesto Bee. N. p. 17 Aug. 2010. Web. 1 March 2011.
Hewitt, Nancy, and Tyrrell, Patrick "Killing One to Save Many. (Issues & Insights)(Editorial)." Investor's Business Daily (2007): A12. Custom Newspapers. Web. 15 Feb. 2011.
MacRae, Kathleen. "My View: Race is Hidden Factor in Death-Penalty Decisions. (Editorials)." Santa Fe New Mexican [Santa Fe, NM] 24 June 2007: F-4. Custom Newspapers. Web. 15 Feb. 2011.
"Wrongful Execution." . Wikipedia, n.d. Web. 1 March 2011.