Decades and centuries ago, prisons were a far cry from the advanced incarceration facilities that make up the present-day facilities found all across our nation. It is exponentially more difficult today for a prisoner to escape a facility than it was years ago. The odds of a person in a maximum-security holding facility escaping are almost non-existent. Justification for capital punishment way back when was that a town or city would not be at ease knowing that a serial killer or even just a murderer was incarcerated, because of the small chance that he would escape and live to murder again. This would cause the town to live in terror of this possibility. Therefore, capital punishment may be the best solution. But what is the justification for capital punishment in our present day society?
The American Civil Liberties Union states that as of June 2002 (this is a dated figure, but still relevant) 108 people including 12 death row inmates have been found innocent through DNA testing. The number today is even higher. This statement basically ensures that some have been killed for crimes that they had no part in. How can we as an advanced society support laws that allow individuals to be sentenced to death? Human error is inevitable, as can be seen by the above statistic. There is no reason that we could not simply incarcerate those individuals for the remainder of their life. The death penalty takes away civil liberties. I do not believe that we as humans have the right to condemn others to death.
Lets look at it from a poor monetary standpoint, forget any moral or ethical cases against capital punishment; let’s look at the money. It is more expensive to impose the death penalty than a life sentence. This is because of the number of appeals that must be heard, and the number of lawyers that need to be paid to argue these cases. The below quote is from the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, July 1, 2008:
"Using conservative rough projections, the Commission estimates the annual costs of the present system ($137 million per year), the present system after implementation of the reforms ... ($232.7 million per year) ... and a system which imposes a maximum penalty of lifetime incarceration instead of the death penalty ($11.5 million)."
From simply a monetary perspective, why would you want to pay higher taxes to fund something when we can give someone life instead? Seems a bit odd to me. Factor in the fact that some have been found innocent after being sentenced to death causes it to really not make sense, as we pay much more to promote a system that kills innocent people.
Capital punishment has been abolished in 47 out of 50 countries in Europe. For many, it has been decades since the last execution. Why do we persist in something that simply makes no sense? Other countries have seen the shortfalls and moral issues surrounding capital punishment, and we as a free nation need to step up and recognize this as well.
For me: I will never support the death penalty, for any reason. I don’t believe that it is ethical in any circumstance, and I will be a lifelong advocate for the abolition of capital punishment.
Please see the page below concerning executions that have taken place where there has been compelling evidence for innocence: