Types of punishments such as hanging, imprisonment, death, and hard labor have been around for ages. The death penalty was created in the Eighteenth Century B.C. to punish criminals for crimes such as murder, rape, heresy, and witchcraft. There is controversy surrounding the topic, Tracy Dye believes the death penalty is cruel and should be abolished, while Dave Anderson is for legalizing the death penalty in every state.
This paper will examine two sides of a debate and come up with a compromise. The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, is a government-sanctioned practice whereby a person is killed by the state as a punishment for a crime. When a criminal is punished by being sentenced to death, this is known as an execution. In the Eighteenth Century BC, the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon codified the death penalty for twenty-five different crimes. Crimes that are punishable by death are known as capital crimes or capital offenses, and they commonly include offenses such as murder, treason, espionage, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Death-row is a special section of a prison that houses inmates who are awaiting execution after being sentenced to death. According to deathpenaltyinfo.org, “Death-row prisoners in the U.S. typically spend more than a decade awaiting execution. Some prisoners have been on death row for well over 20 years. During this time, they are generally isolated from other prisoners, sharply restricted in terms of visitation and exercise, and spend as many as 23 hours a day alone in their cells’’(TimeonDeathRow). Nearly a quarter of inmates on death row in the U.S. die of natural causes while awaiting execution.
Opponents of capital punishment claim that a prisoner’s isolation and uncertainty over his or her fate establishes a form of mental cruelty and long-time death row inmates are liable to become mentally ill….if they are not already. This is referred to as the death row phenomenon. In extreme cases, some inmates may attempt to commit suicide. Tracy Dye is against the death penalty and believes that there are other ways of punishing criminals. One of Dye’s arguments against the death penalty is Exoneration.
What if an inmate sentenced to death is later found to be innocent of their convictions? A study titled “Rate of false convictions of criminal defendants who are sentenced to death” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that over 4 percent of prisoners sentenced to death in the United States are innocent. If a conviction is ever overturned, it can take decades at the very least. Another point Dye makes is that the cost of the death penalty compared to a life sentence without parole is exponential. Due to the extra measures taken in judicial proceedings, lawyer fees, extended trials, and expert witnesses, costs end up being higher. A Cost Study by the Sacramento Bee noted that the average cost of a death sentence during a case is $3 million. Even though the majority of U.S. states do not enforce the death penalty, all U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill.
Dye says, “-socio-economic discrimination is also found within capital punishment. People with substantial income can afford the best criminal defense team when going to trial, while those of low socio-economic status cannot. Verdicts are largely dependent on the quality of one’s defense team”. An article from deathpenalty.org cited, “Many lawyers who were assigned by the state to poor defendants were often inadequately trained, later suspended and/or disbarred”(Death penalty).
Dave Anderson believes the death penalty should continue to be legal and that it plays an important role in our fight against crime and punishment of the perpetrators of those crimes. Many people were early age, we were taught that actions have consequences. Anderson believes in retribution and that consequences bring order to our society. “When a person commits a violent and dangerous crime such as taking the life of another, they have to be punished, they have to pay the price of their actions and it should be in equal measure”, states Anderson. No person subsequently proved to be innocent has been executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1977.
According to Anderson, “One of the reasons people claim that the death penalty should be abolished is the danger of an erroneous conviction”. Because of the advances in forensic science and technology, DNA evidence can now be obtained from almost vanishingly small samples allowing for the innocent to be exonerated relatively easily. The arguments for and against the death penalty both have valid points. Citations Anderson, Dave.
- “10 Reasons The Death Penalty Should Be Legal in All States.” Top 10 Lists | ListLand.com, ListLand, 21 Feb. 2016, www.listland.com/10-reasons-the-death-penalty-should-be-legal/. Dye, Tracy.
- “Top 10 Reasons The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished.” Top 10 Lists | ListLand.com, ListLand, 14 Jan. 2015, www.listland.com/top-10-reasons-death-penalty-abolished/.
- Grassian, Stuart. “Time on Death Row.” Millions Misspent: What Politicians Don’t Say About the High Costs of the Death Penalty | Death Penalty Information Center, Death Penalty Information Center, Sept. 2014, www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/time-death-row.