The death penalty has been back in the news lately. Like it or leave it, the death penalty is one of those “things” that people generally don’t like to talk about….it makes good people feel really uncomfortable, much like abortion, the death penalty conversation makes for interesting and sometimes heated debates. Troy Davis, a Georgia man who was convicted of killing a man in 1989 has the support of former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI to spare his life. He says he is innocent, the government says he is guilty. He has had three stays of execution since 2009 to work appeals, one of those stays was by the US Supreme Court.
The death penalty is without a doubt, the most drastic form of punishment we in the United States have. There are 34 states (as well the Federal Government and the US Military) that have the death penalty as a means of punishment. Many people argue that the death penalty is of no value. Many other people argue that it is of significant value and a huge deterrent for violent crime. What is the real answer? Is there a way to know if capital punishment is an effective means of controlling violent crime? Yes, there is and there are a ton of statistics that show that the death penalty does quite the opposite of what it was intended to do.
Here are some interesting facts:
Total number is executions since 1976: 1267
Race of the Defendants Executed: White (711), Black (439), Hispanic (93), Other (24)
Death Row Exonerations since 1973: 130 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.
Number of inmates currently on death row (as of January 1, 2011): 3251 with California leading the way with 721 and new Hampshire with 1.
If you would like to read more about the statistics of the Death Penalty, click HERE to open up the fact sheet.
What is ironic is that in the states with Capital Punishment, the rate of murder and other violent crimes is actually higher than those states that do no condone Capital Punishment. You can see these statistics HERE.
As I stated above, the death penalty much like abortion is an area that most people have an opinion about but generally don’t talk about. It is much too TABOO (also like suicide). My opinion is that the death penalty should be abolished. It provides no real deterrence to violent crime, it is extremely expensive to enforce and once we pull the switch or push in the lethal injection, there is no redo button. How many people have been executed that were actually innocent? Our justice system here in America is a model for everyone else, however, much like the people who run it, it is not perfect and it makes mistakes. Do I believe that “most” people on death row committed the crimes that the justice system found them guilty of, yes I do. However, I do not believe in an the eye for an eye philosophy of justice. I would much rather see a murderer ROT in a Maximum Security prison for the remainder of their lives than take the easy way out. Murderers have no respect for human life, including their own.
After reading this and taking a look at the links provided, how do you feel about the death penalty? Take a moment and make your comments heard and known. I love a good debate!