Is the Death Penalty Effective?

Only just a few months ago, America witnessed two bungled executions in Oklahoma and Ohio. These events have elicited further soul-searching amongst Americans about whether or not the death penalty is effective. There is need to have a sober conversation regarding the death penalty, one that casts aside both anecdotal and emotional arguments in favor of clear-eyed analysis.

The death penalty is not fair. From a pro-life perspective, the death penalty is at odds with a culture that holds in high esteem the gift of life. Capital punishment amounts to state-sponsored murder, which can claim the innocent lives of people. Indeed, capital punishment has claimed a number of innocent lives. Studies have shown that by investing more time and resources in murder trials, over 5 percent of murder executions may be averted. If that is the case, then it is quite chilling to imagine the number of wrongful executions that have taken place. This is enough to help people take a pause and think about the justice of a death sentence.

The obvious question that needs an answer is whether or not capital punishment works. For a long time, in order to justify their support for the death penalty, supporters have often asserted that capital punishment is a successful control. And for several years, the proof of this claim has either been missing or inconclusive. In fact, in states that allow capital punishment, crime rates are relatively high compared to other states that forbid it. Most murders happen in the heat of passion, so the murderer does not have time to sit down and think against perpetrating the crime because of the fear of the death penalty. With the lack of sufficient proof that capital punishment reduces crime, serious questions need to be asked regarding America’s commitment to capital punishment.

Another question is whether or not capital punishment is cost-effective. Obviously, the answer is negative. Death penalty cases can amount to over $ 1 million compared to trials where a life sentence without parole is being called for. The cost of executing a murder convict can surpass the cost of accommodating the prisoner for the whole of their life sentence. In some states, a capital trial can economically ruin a county. In Washington State, criminal justice expenses take up 8% of the county budget expenditures, and administrators often worry about the economic ruin a death sentence trial might cause. As if that is not enough, states fund the death penalty irrespective of whether they apply it or not. For example, in New Jersey State, before eradicating it, taxpayers spent over quarter-billion dollars on a death penalty system, which in more than 23 years, killed not even a single person. Any person who is pro-life and financially responsible is obviously at loggerheads with the death penalty. However, even with the overwhelming proof that capital punishment is neither effective nor fiscally sound, it is saddening that it still receives support from other quarters. Of course, proponents of the death penalty system argue on the basis of ‘an eye for an eye’ and also claim that heinous crimes can only be punished by harsh punishments. However, casting anecdotes and emotions aside, it is important to query those unwavering beliefs regarding the death penalty. In the end, pro-life supporters and economists should be on the front line to eradicate capital punishment.

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