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A Dying Punishment

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A Dying Punishment

Ever since the beginning of our nation's history individuals who disobey rules, regulations, and written laws set in place by our fore fathers, receive some variation of punishment. One form of punishment issued to those citizens who commit violent and extreme crimes is the taking of one's life, otherwise known as the death penalty. Along with our advancement in culture and technology, the method of killing criminals has progressed from hanging to lethal injection. As our nation's past, present, and future leaders we have failed to consider the possible forward movement to abolish the punishment of death as a whole. Many of the states making up our congress and government have decided that this extraneous punishment is not a formidable method of punishment in today's society. We should move, as a nation, to abolish this form of punishment and move to a better form of punishing our citizens who disobey the law. Over the recent years, many researchers conducted studies on the cost of seeking and implementing the death penalty, the measurable deterrence that the death penalty actually provides, and the ethical and medical aspects of this punishment and have found adverse results. Through the high costs, the failure to deter others from committing crime and unethical medical mentality the death penalty in today's society is obsolete, and supports the change to other methods of punishment.

Recently we have seen the change in American's opinion on this topic turn for the better. In March of 2011, the 16th state, Illinois, abolished the death penalty as a form of punishment. (Falsani). Illinois joins Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia. This is approximately 32% of our total states and 27% of the entire population of the United States. The opposition to the inhumane form of capital punishment significantly increased when New York, New Jersey and New Mexico abolished it in the late 2000's. The recent increase shows the urgency that we, as a nation, must pursue a decision for an overall national stance on how to punish our criminals. The United States citizens have pushed congressional representatives in both the State Senate and House of Representatives in the previously mentioned states, and therefore we can only assume that there are individuals in other states, searching for a similar resolution. While our society progresses to 'new and better' ideas to better our people, so must a change in reprimanding our socially inept individuals.

One man said, "the death penalty he suggests are the simple fact that although punishment by death is an expensive measure, the price is worth it to the victims." This statement regards a speech given by Alabama Attorney General, Troy King. (King). This statement is powerful however, when looking at the greater good, the satisfaction the victim and his or her family may get from the execution of convicted felons is not superior to the costs incurred by every taxpayer in this nation. A question we should ask ourselves, "Should the entire nation of taxpayers suffer a burden of financial support to give satisfaction to less than one percent of the nation's population?" This ethical dilemma continues to appear throughout our nation. Supporters of the penalty suggest that since the execution of inmates acts as a removal of inmates from the 'system', will thus lower costs to the overall taxpayer. These presumptions however logical and correct, fail to consider the entire costs of this punishment. Components that make up costs of the death penalty are not solely the costs associated with the execution process however; also include the legal aspect when prosecutors seek a sentence to death.

Through methods funded by the Abell Foundation, five researchers were able to uncover burdens the death penalty places on the typical taxpayer from the state of Maryland. Roman et. al. conducted a retrospective study looking at the cost of death notice when compared to cases where prosecutors did not issue a death notice. A death notice is a term used when the prosecution seeks the death penalty as a sentence for the alleged criminal, and thus is one of the major components of the overall costs related to this form of capital punishment. For the prosecution to simply issue a death-notice Roman et. al. stated, "For the average case, a death notice adds $670,000 in costs over the duration of a case." (Roman 2). This fact suggests that between 1978 and 2008, or thirty years, Maryland state prosecutors issued 162 death notices, costing the government and, in theory, taxpayers approximately $108,540,000. This number represents cases where officials sought the death penalty, however, fails to include to processing costs when the death sentence is actually the outcome of the case. Roman et. al. said, "A death sentence adds an additional $1.2 million in processing costs." (Roman 2). The additional $1.2 million multiplied by the number of sentences issued, in Maryland's case 56, provides the overall expenditures the government and taxpayers are incurring. In total, this amounts to $175,740,000. This $176 million dollar expense only represents one of the thirty-four states that have an execution style punishment. In states where the issuance of death notices are in more abundance and death sentences are rendered the verdict the costs associated with that state and its taxpayers exponentially increases to alarming and detrimental costs.

One justification of punishment in any given society is the purpose of 'sending a signal', a signal to other potential criminals to avoid committing a crime of similar nature. By using punishment officials show these future offenders the potential repercussions for a specific crime and, in theory, this will then deter them from breaking rules, regulations, and laws. Our nation considers this theory of 'sending a signal' deterrence of crime. The initial implementation of a punishment for example, a mother obtaining a wooden spoon and hitting the child in the buttocks when they misbehave, will deter the behavior from continuing, but this result is short lived. In our nation's beginning, hangings (the chosen form of execution) were rare; however, in today's world lethal injection (the current form of execution) is more frequently. In the case of the child misbehaving eventually, he or she will accept the punishment and see how far they can push their parents. We see this in criminals also, if the current form of punishment, the death penalty, were to, in fact, be effective there would be little to no violent and extraneous crimes



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