.. he legal process in death penalty cases is very complicated, and reflects the jeopardy of someones life. Death penalty trials are longer and more complicated than non-death penalty murder trials. According to Richard Dieter, “Over two-thirds of the states and the federal government have installed an exorbitantly expensive system of capital punishment which has been a failure by any measure of effectiveness. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent on a response to crime which is calculated to be carried out on a few people each year, and which has done nothing to stem the rise in violent crime” (2). Anyone on trial for his life should be expected to mount an energetic defense.
During a detailed trial that can include an intensive use of experts and investigators; this can become expensive. Furthermore, if convicted, death penalty cases require a sufficiently long”due process” in hopes to ensure the guilt of the convict. Thus, such a lengthy process will never be inexpensive. The enormous cost of death penalty cases are realistically guaranteeing Americans a diminished safety, because of the redirection of money towards legal resources that are being diverted from effective crime fighting strategies. Examples of lack of money for innovations like community policing can be noted in California and Texas.
Before the LA Riots, California achieved spending an extra $90 million per year on capital punishment, yet somehow neglected the safety of the people. Texas, has over 300 people, 50 of which are juveniles, on death row, and on average is spending an estimated $2.3 million per case, leading the country in executions of minors, and yet its murder rate remains one of the highest in the country. Capital punishment is obviously not deterring the crime rate, and America continuously expends money on a punishment which does nothing but burden the people of that state. Even with the phenomenal amount of money funneled into capital punishment; it has been statistically proven that it does not deter murder. In fact, crime committed by juveniles has increased steadily over the last few years, “According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, juvenile homicide arrests have increased by 170 percent in the last decade, while homicide arrest for adults during the same period have increased 25 percent” (Butcher 3).
Deterrence depends on the possibility and ability of human responses to danger, not the rationality of the persons thoughts. Therefore, capital punishment is not psychologically able to deter someone who has violated the law in fear of the judicial procedure or society. In essence, van den Haag theorizes that natural dangers, all dangers not deliberately created by legislation, are insufficient. Therefore, fear of a natural danger must be reinforced by legal punishment to those who violate the rules. These types of punishments keep most people in compliance with the law. Yet, in the absence of natural danger, the threatened punishment is light for the criminal violating the rules and, in this case, obligation to the rules vanish.
Elsewhere punishment deters. Therefore there is a distinct bell curve to the notion of capital punishment in which it does not work as a deterrent. In removal of a religions view, there are still, “. . .two truths about the human person: human life is both sacred and social” (Capital Punishment: A Reader, Bernardin 150) and regardless of human merit or worthiness, a child is entitled to exist and hold a to chance for rehabilitation.
Distressingly, a young adolescent sentenced to death is deprived from his natural self worth, his ability to rehabilitate, his potential, and some kind livelihood. Realistically, when a human commits a crime, he should be punished for his crime in an appropriate manner which deprives him of certain pleasures, but not of everything life has to offer, which is what the death penalty ensures. Nor should we punish a person in a cruel and unusual way, but provide a sentence that requires the criminals to be punished by a severe method; which life in prison does. The value of a human life is immeasurable with all other values, and therefore the equating punishment for murder, the death sentence, does not give provide retributionism, because value of ones murdered life does not equate to the value of another. A suggested Alternative for reducing crime can be provided through evidence by New York States policy on the death penalty. According to Dieter, New York does not utilize capital punishment, by reason of a study presented by the NY State Defenders Association found that the estimated cost to the state $1.8 million, just for the trial and the first stages of appeal per defendant is too large of a burden.
New York experienced a decline in every major crime in 1992 by implementing an increasingly popular concept of “community policing”. Community policing became, “a strategy for utilizing police officers not just as people who react to crime, but also as people who solve problems becoming an integral part of the neighborhoods they serve” (Dieter 8). This program apparently works well when the government can afford to increase the amount of officers, rather than taking from existing numbers, leaving other work unattended. Crime rates can drop as much as 30 percent as seen in Boston, where more officers are able to support the community. The increasing costs of the death penalty are, in reality, making America less safe because of the loss of financial and legal resources that are presently being diverted from effective crime fighting programs. Implementing programs which have been siphoned off because of the death penalty, and working directly towards the front line goals on our war against crime would increase the safety for all Americans. Money towards the police, correctional systems, and neighborhood programs could install a safer community, and one where murder is not the norm, but a less rare event.
In conclusion, the above studies provide evidence that the death penalty is severely expensive, and provides no real justification for retributionism, safety for the society, or a notion of responsibility for actions. Large sums of money that are focused on only a few individuals produces no gauge of adequate results to justify their spending to execute one person, while more effective and vital services to the community are being sacrificed. The theory of the death penalty, in reality, was originally utilized as a means to deter others, a solution to crime, which is impossible, as noted by Jaeger, whos daughter will never return and murder will still continue. In the end, maturity, mitigating circumstance, and psychological problems ought not to be by passed in order to gain a conviction for all, especially for minors, who do need adults to protect their best interests, regardless of a crime. Bibliography Amnesty Internationals Campaign on the United States. On the Wrong Side Of History: Children and the Death Penalty in the USA.
New York, NY: Amnesty International Publications, May 1998. Amnesty International Report. “Juveniles and the Death Penalty: Executions Worldwide since 1990.” Amnesty International Act 50/11/98. (1998) Online – Internet. Available: http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/aipub/1998/ACT/A50011 98.htm Butcher, Matthew. “Are They Too Young To Die?” MSNBC.
(1998) Online – Internet. Available: http://www.msnbc.com/news/127366.asp Dieter, Richard C. Esq. “Millions Misspent: What Politicians Dont Say About the High Cost of the Death Penalty.” Death Penalty Information Center. (1994) Online – Internet. Available: http://www.essential.org/orgs/dpic/dpic.r08/html#s xn5 Stassen, Glen H., ed.
Capital Punishment: A Reader. Ohio: Pilgrim Press, 1998.