The Death Penalty -The Irrevocable Sentence
The death penalty has been a part of society as a method of punishment for crimes committed since the beginning of time. Once an inmate is sentenced to death row they will usually spend over a decade awaiting their execution, some prisoners have been on death row for over 20 years. “Studies: Death Penalty Adversely Affects Families of Victims and Defendants” (Talking About Trauma). Does the death penalty help the families of the victims heal and fill the void of their missing loved ones? Some may argue that the death penalty “deters” criminals from committing heinous future crimes, but there is little evidence from studies conducted that show whether or not the death penalty acts as a better deterrent than life in prison without parole. The death penalty should be abolished due to racial bias, the exorbitant costs of the death penalty and the risks of imposing an irrevocable sentence on innocent lives.
The belief that the death penalty deters criminals from committing future crimes is not completely inaccurate; punishments that are swift and sure are the most effective methods of deterrence because people fear death the most. One cannot deny the death penalty deters future crimes being committed by that one criminal that was sentenced the death penalty by a form of incapacitation. According to Dr. Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia University states, “There is no reliable, scientifically sound evidence that [shows that executions] can exert a deterrent effect…. These flaws and omissions in a body of scientific evidence render it unreliable as a basis for law or policy that generate life-and-death decisions. (Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law). With the conclusion of a lack of evidence or proof showing that the death penalty deters crime, more states are adopting the procedure of sentencing criminals to life in prison without parole and working towards abolishing the death penalty.
Race has played an important role in the decision of whether the prosecution seeks the death penalty or not. Studies have shown that it is more likely to seek the death penalty in crimes committed where there is a white victim verses a black victim. A recent study soon to be published in Cornell Law Review states, “almost all the prosecutors making the key decision about whether the death penalty will be sought out are white.” “The Death Penalty in Black and White” (Study II: The Race of the Decision-Makers). The death penalty often appears to be racially divisive in counting white lives more valuable than black lives. Until race can be eliminated as a determinant of who lives and who dies, the death penalty should not be used.
The death penalty imposes an irrevocable sentence that cannot be undone if any errors were made in the case. An estimated 150 people have been exonerated since 1973 with evidence of their innocence and the help of DNA testing. DNA testing plays a very important role in proving innocence, however many inma...