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Death Penalty Pros And Cons

Death Penalty Pros And Cons

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Determent: Those in favor of capital punishment often cite statistics positing that the death penalty deters future criminals from committing murder, as the repercussions from getting caught are too great. While these statistics are debatable, there is no doubt that the possibility of death invokes fear in the minds of certain criminals, perhaps deterring some from committing a murder.


Recidivism: If capital punishment is not carried out, a convicted murderer has an opportunity to commit further crimes, whether in prison or on the street. A study published by USA Today shows that prisons are failing to deter criminals from repeating crimes in 41 states, stating that in 2002 more than 45 percent of released prisoners were re-incarcerated for committing another offense. Of the 33 states that provided data for the study, 15 reported recidivism rates that had risen by as much as 30 percent in 2007.


Closure: While closure isn't a legal issue, it is certainly an emotional and moral consideration. Proponents of capital punishment believe that the execution of those who have murdered others' loved ones provides a sense of finality for the victim's families. In a study published in the Western Criminology Review, the authors acknowledged that most people, while recognizing the fiscal disadvantages of capital punishment, still support it based on the importance of retribution and closure.


Expense: One of the most compelling arguments against the death penalty is its cost, which heavily outweighs the alternative of life imprisonment. Because of the structure of the legal system in the U.S., convicted felons have the right to appeal, and it is the appellate system that generates the high cost. The Los Angeles Times claims that local taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion dollars on the death penalty since it's reinstatement in 1978, or about $308 million for every execution carried out since then (13 executions).

Wrongful Conviction

Wrongful Conviction: Another strong argument against the death penalty is that of potential wrongful conviction, where an innocent person is sentenced to die. In fact, DNA evidence, which is now the primary method of conviction is used in U.S. courts, wasn't available prior to 1988, when the fingerprint was first used as evidence. People on death row have been frequently acquitted in recent years in almost every state, proving that juries can wrongfully condemn innocent victims.

Consistency With International Standards

Consistency with International Standards: As a country that plans, trades, cooperates with, and relies on other countries, specifically those within the European Union (EU), it is crucial that the U.S. align itself with international and EU standards. The EU has abolished the death penalty, considering it to be a heinous display of injustice. The EU Charter of Human Rights states, "no one shall be condemned to the death penalty of executed," and some have argued that the U.S. should align themselves with their European allies on this matter.

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