Death Penalty Debate
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Since capital punishment was
reinstated by the Supreme Court in the 1976 decision, more than
525 men and women have been put to death by the state. More than 150 of
these executions have taken place since 1996. 3,500 people are on death
row today, awaiting their turn with the executioner.
Obviously, those executed canít murder again. "Of the roughly 52,000 state prison inmates serving time for murder in 1984, an estimated 810 had previously been convicted of murder and had killed 821 persons following their previous murder convictions. Executing each of these inmates would have saved 821 lives." (41, 1 Stanford Law Review, 11/88, pg. 153) Using a 75% murder clearance rate, it is most probable that the actual number of lives saved would have been 1026, or fifty times the number legally executed that year. This suggests that some 10,000 persons have been murdered, since 1971, by those who had previously committed additional murders.
Since 1976, 77 persons have been released from death row because they were not guilty of the crime for which they had been condemned to death (33 of these releases have occurred since 1990). These lucky interventions occurred almost always as the result of the efforts of students, journalists or pro bono lawyers, often only hours before a scheduled execution, and usually after the condemned had been on death row for over ten years.
With no death penalty and only life without parole (LWOP), there is no deterrent for LWOP inmates killing others while in prison or after escape. Indeed, there is actually a positive incentive to murder if a criminal has committed a LWOP offense and had not yet been captured. Currently, there are a number of inmates who have killed numerous people in prison or after escape. Their punishment could not be increased because there is no death penalty in those states. Therefore, they will never be punished for those crimes.
The highest murder rate in Houston, Texas occurred in 1981, with 701 murders. Texas resumed executions in 1982. Since that time, Houston has executed more murderers than any other city or state (except Texas) and has seen the greatest reduction in murder, 701 in 1981 down to 261 in 1996 - a 63% reduction, representing a 270% differential!
The FBI Uniform Crime Reports Division publication Crime in the US for 1995 reports that there were 4.9 murders per 100,000 people in states that have abolished the death penalty, compared with 9.2 murders in those states which still have the death penalty. "In no state has the number of murders diminished after legalizing the death penalty."
The United States is the only Western industrialized nation that practices the death penalty, and is by far the nation with the largest death row roster in the world.
Its historically unfair, your more likely to get the death penalty if you are a minority, poor and live in certain parts of the country.
Its debatable whether or not the death penalty is cheaper than life without parole, but its not important to the victims of repeat offenders, even if its just another prisoner.
DNA testing has exonerated 64 inmates in the United States and Canada, including nine who were on death row in this country.
A February 1999 Gallup poll found 70 percent of Americans supporting the death penalty - still an overwhelming majority. But it represents the lowest level in 13 years.
There were 98 executions in the US in 1999 - 30 more than last year and the most since 1951.
After 16 years on Illinois's death row, he was set free in February 1999 when a band of college students helped prove his innocence. After coming within 48 hours of execution, he suddenly became a national symbol of the death penalty's fallibility.
Gov. George Ryan took the unprecedented step Monday of putting all executions on hold in Illinois, which over the past two decades has freed more inmates from death row - 13 - than it has put to death. ``There is no margin for error when it comes to putting a person to death,'' the Republican governor said. ``Until I can be sure that everyone sentenced to death in Illinois is truly guilty - until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection - no one will meet that fate.''