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Willett 1

Sydney Willett
Aquila
English 2
5 15 September 2016
Death to the Death Penalty
A famous proverb says, Two wrongs do not make a right. The United States
justice system seems to fail to grasp this concept with the implementation of the death
penalty, and allowing states to use it as punishment. Although the United States claims to
be a moral and progressive society, it continues to condone the systematic murder of
people who are being punished for performing the same action, and is among Saudi
Arabia and Iraq with its high execution rates. The death penalty is immoral and is a dark
spot on democratic ideals. The death penalty should be abolished because it is ineffective
in its purpose, costly, and reinforces disparities in society.
Capital punishment must be declared unconstitutional by the government because
it does not succeed in carrying out its intended function. The death penalty is meant to
discourage criminals from extreme crimes typically involving murder, and was put in
place with the belief that it would lower crime rates. While some continue to support that
the death penalty reduces crime or homicide rates, studies have consistently shown that
the death penalty fails to do so. From the years of 1980 to 2000, murder rates in states
with capital punishment were 48 percent to 101 percent greater than those of the states in
which it is banned. The demographics in these states do not vary enough to affect the
rates (Bonner and Fessendren). According to a study done in 2008 by the FBI, thirteen
of the fourteen states without the death penalty had homicide rates below the national rate

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of 5.4 per 100,000 people, and one had a rate of exactly 5.4, while all states with the
death penalty had a rate of above 5.4 (Federal Bureau of Investigation). Statistically, the
death penalty does not have any impact on murder and crime rates, and seems to actually
have an inverse effect. Another reason as to why the death penalty does not hamper crime
is because a person who is willing to kill another is not concerned with law or reason. In
an interview with Raymond Bonner and Ford Fessendren from the New York Times,
Detroits district attorney, John OHair, argued, I do not think the death penalty is a
deterrent of any consequence in preventing murders Most homicidesare impulsive
actionsin which the killers do not consider the consequence (Bonner and Fessendren).
The death penalty does not decrease crime, rendering it useless in its intention.
Along with capital punishments inability to deter homicide, it is also ineffective
because it leaves no room for error. It is difficult to completely determine whether or not
a person is guilty, causing the death penalty to be a high stakes game of chance. With the
introduction of DNA testing, 114 people have been released from death row, creating the
possibility that one in ten inmates are wrongfully convicted (Brunello). The death
penalty is failing to create true justice because there is an inherent possibility of the
execution of an innocent person. If capital punishment cannot avert crime or be
administered accurately, it is simply arbitrary murder, which is immoral and delegitimizes
the democratic principles of the United States government. Therefore, the death penalty
ought to be abolished.
Secondly, the death penalty should be eliminated because it is expensive.
Although the process of execution is relatively cheap, the cost of the death sentence
includes matters such as trials, appeals, prosecution, defense, and prisoner necessities

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(Erb). Because capital punishment is carried out by the state, the funds needed in order to
pay for it comes from taxpayer money, essentially causing citizens to pay for institutional
killing. Financial reports show that the budget for the death penalty is the second most
growing, with Medicaid being the first (Erb). This money is frequently put to waste due
to unnecessary convictions or the later release of death row inmates. The money going
towards the death penalty could be used instead to fund better rehabilitation programs for
prisoners to possibly lower crime rates, or programs to improve society such as public
education. Capital punishment is too costly to be considered a viable option.
Furthermore, life in prison without parole costs less than the death penalty, and is
arguably a more effective punishment. It also reduces the chance of executing an
innocent person. The average cost of a death row inmate is $90,000 more than a prisoner
with a life sentence (Brunello). If the death penalty were to be put to an end in favor of
life sentences, there would be an immense decrease in expenses of the states, and a
potential reduction in taxes. Forbes magazine interviewed Donald McArtin, known as
the Hanging Judge of Orange County..., who stated, Its 10 times more expensive to kill
them than to keep them alive (Erb). When the cost of the death penalty is combined with
its ineffectiveness, it is evident that capital punishment is unnecessary in comparison to
cheaper and more humane punishments such as a life sentence without parole. The
arguments of proponents of the death penalty fail to stand when observing the high cost
of this punishment, and any benefits it might bring pale greatly. Because the death
penalty is a pointless and exorbitant expense, it is imperative that it is banned.
Finally, capital punishment cannot exist in the democratic society of the United
States because it further imposes social inequalities. There almost seems to be separate

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justice systems for different economic and social groups, and prejudice does not fail to
make itself known to the death penalty. The death penalty seems to have the greatest
impact on the poor due to multiple factors, with one of the biggest factors being that
those in poverty are unable to afford the best lawyers for their case. In an analysis paper
titled Poverty and the Death Penalty, Jeffery and Colleen Johnson suggested that, the
poor person is more likely to be found guilty of similar crimes than is the wealthy
defendantthe poor aremore likely to be represented by a public defenderthere is
less economic incentive to devote extensive time to research (Jeffery Johnson 519)
(Colleen Johnson 519). Overall, public defenders are typically overburdened with cases,
and do not have the encouragement of high payment to look for evidence that could
potentially show that a client is not guilty. Those who are wealthy are able to afford better
lawyers who do have the incentive to research. The state governments also play a role in
reinforcing this economic disparity. States aim to choose death penalty cases that are easy
to win due to the high costs of the charge and the trial, which typically involve poor
defendants due to lower quality lawyers (Jeffery Johnson 520) (Colleen Johnson 520).
The perpetuation of classism by capital punishment is immoral, causing an imbalance in
justice.
The death penalty also impedes upon racial equality, and has irreversible
consequences on minority groups in the United States. A study done by The Guardian
shows that a black defendant is three times more likely to advance to a death penalty trial
than a white one for similar crimes (Pilkington). The death penalty is greatly impacting
minority groups because there is a larger chance for them to be charged. This is the
opposite of what the Bill of Rights and the United States stand for. Racism is also clearly

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seen in the population of death row in comparison to the population of the United States.
In 2014, 42 percent of death row inmates were black and 43 percent were white, while 64
percent of the United States is white and 12 percent is black (Brunello). This means that a
large amount of blacks are death row inmates, despite being a small portion of the
population. It is clear to see in this statistic that minority groups are being greatly affected
by the death penalty, increasing social inequalities. Due to its unequal and unfair
treatment of the poor and minorities in society, capital punishment needs to be removed.
The death penalty provides little to no benefits, and creates many issues. Capital
punishment is unsuccessful in fulfilling its objective because it does not deter homicide
or crime, and often is not implemented correctly. Also, its cost places a large burden on
the state, and life sentences are more affordable. Finally, it exacerbates social imbalances
in poverty and race. For these reasons, the death penalty ought to be abolished.

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Works Cited
Bonner, Raymond and Ford Fessendren. Absence of executions: A special report. States
with no death penalty share lower homicide rates. The New York Times. (22 Sep
2000).
Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2008. FBI. (Sep 2009).
Brunello, Anthony R. The Death Penalty Is an Objectively Bad Idea. US News. (10
June 2014).
Erb, Kelly Phillips. Considering the Death Penalty: Your Tax Dollars At Work. Forbes.
(1 May 2014).
Johnson, Jeffery and Colleen Johnson. Poverty and the Death Penalty. Oxfordshire.
Taylor & Francis, Ltd., 2001.
Pilkingon, Ed. Research exposes racial discrimination in Americas death penalty
capital. The Guardian. (13 Mar 2013).