American legislators, public activists, human rights defenders, and others are in acute arguments about what punishment most dangerous and brutal criminals should receive. Even though numerous people are sure that the death penalty is required, many reasons demonstrate that capital punishment should be canceled or replaced. Thus, it is rational to ban the death penalty since it puts innocent people at risk, is unethical, costs millions of dollars for taxpayers, fails to deter crimes, and has a more appropriate alternative.
To begin with, one should emphasize that people criticize the capital punishment system because innocent individuals can be executed, and real examples justify this claim. The case of Carlos DeLuna is suitable here because the man was executed for a crime that he had not probably committed. DeLuna was sentenced to death based on a single eyewitness’s statement (Michallon par. 4). However, current evidence shows a high degree of probability that Carlos was innocent. The second example has a proven argument to claim that an innocent person was executed. This statement refers to Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to capital punishment for murder in 2017, but new DNA testing four years later found genetic material of an unknown man on the assassination weapon (Knowles par. 3). These two examples highlight the mistakes of the death penalty system, which means that it is reasonable to ban it.
Simultaneously, there is robust reasoning behind abolishing the death penalty because this practice is unethical. Taking somebody’s life is a felony, and no one, including a state, should be entitled to do it. It is also worth admitting that capital punishment goes against almost every religion. For example, Christianity stipulates that killing a person is among mortal sins, meaning that this situation is not allowed in any circumstances (Sarat et al. 765). It is worth admitting that the first attempts to stop executing people relied on emphasizing moral and religious aspects of capital punishment (Sarat et al. 765). Since a biblical worldview demonstrates that the death penalty is a sin, it is logical to consider that this practice should be banned.
In addition to that, the capital punishment system is criticized for being a significant financial burden. Even though many people tend to believe that executing a person is cheaper compared to a life sentence, the truth is the opposite. In particular, the office of the Tennessee controller analyzed the issue and found that death penalties are almost two times more expensive (Robinson par. 1). The reasoning behind this statement is that capital trials are typically more challenging cases, and they require more agencies to be involved. All this information contributes to the fact that the government should spend more financial resources to execute a person. This state of affairs becomes absurd when it appears that relatives of a victim should pay taxes to implement capital punishment against the criminal. This person has committed a felony against their family, while the government collects money from them to execute this criminal. It is impossible to imagine what these citizens feel at that moment, which means that the government should avoid such situations.
The statement by the office of the Tennessee controller is not the only one regarding this topic. California Governor Gavin Newsom also made some valuable commentaries when he “announced a moratorium on executions in 2019” (Steiker and Steiker 311). This high-ranking official stipulated that the state spent approximately five billion dollars over 40 years, and 13 executions were performed during this period (Steiker and Steiker 311). If one puts it in crude terms, each capital punishment case cost more than 384 million dollars. Consequently, no one can deny that the existing system implies significant expenses, and it is challenging to justify them. The revealed figures denote that it is necessary to cancel the death penalty because it is a crucial financial burden for the nation.
Furthermore, the system under consideration is criticized for bringing racial disparities, and the example of North Carolina is suitable to demonstrate it. African Americans comprise 22% of the state’s total population, but more than half of the death row inmates are representatives of this minority group (Xu par. 11). This figure demonstrates that racial prejudices can influence decisions of whether a person can be sentenced to the death penalty, which is a significant argument against this practice.
One should also comment on the belief that capital punishment should be preserved because it deters crimes. Even though many people tend to promote this viewpoint, actual evidence reveals an opposite picture. For example, Barash refers to the 2012 report by the National Research Council, a part of the National Academy of Science, and this document did not find any evidence that capital punishment reduced homicide rates (par. 11). In other words, this writing piece revealed that the threat to be executed is not a significant influential factor for people to refrain from committing a felony.
It is impossible to organize an experiment to know for sure how many crimes could occur with the death penalty and without it. However, a suitable strategy is to identify what consequences the imposition of capital punishment brought. Firstly, the comparison of Hong Kong and Singapore seems appropriate because the two city-states are similar economically and demographically. While Hong Kong banned executions, homicide rates did not significantly change (Barash par. 14). Secondly, it is rational to compare Canada and the United States because the essay focuses on the US. Even though Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976, the two countries have approximately the same murder rates (Barash par. 13). Finally, scientific evidence also compares the data from two American states. In particular, Texas started executing more criminals in 1992, while New York did not have any death penalty cases from 1992 to 2003, and New York’s crime rate declined more significantly (Barash par. 15). This information demonstrates that people do not consider whether capital punishment can be applied when they decide to commit a crime.
The information above reveals that the death penalty has many disadvantages, and it is necessary to consider using a different punishment instead of it. Thus, life without parole seems a suitable alternative to overcome the identified inefficiencies. Firstly, it is possible to state that this approach is more humane and ethical compared to the death penalty. The reasoning behind this statement is that the government does not take people’s lives, while criminals receive punishment for what they committed. Secondly, life without parole deserves attention because it is already being practiced. In particular, all the US states, except for Alaska, sentence severe offenders to life without parole (Steiker and Steiker 311). This information results in the fact that “almost 56,000 people nationwide are now serving sentences that will keep them locked up until they die” (Aspinwall par. 8). These are the individuals that could be death row inmates. Since the information above demonstrated that capital punishment cases are more expensive, one can state that life-without-parole inmates lead to financial savings for the government.
It is also reasonable to comment on how the alternative affects the incarcerated individuals. Some experts state that life without parole makes people nothing to lose, which contributes to their misconduct. However, Sorensen and Reidy conducted a study and identified that such inmates did not show any disciplinary misconduct patterns compared to the other incarceration population groups (46). That is why the current sentence seems an appropriate alternative to the death penalty.
In conclusion, the capital punishment system implies many disadvantages that result in public criticism. Many people believe that this practice should be banned because it places innocent lives at risk, and a few real-life examples prove this statement. Different religions also stipulate that it is unethical to take someone’s life. Since a spiritual worldview states to stop executing people, it is logical to oppose the given practice. Furthermore, it is necessary to abolish the death penalty because capital cases cost millions of dollars for American taxpayers. Relatives of a victim bear a significant emotional burden because they are forced to spend money on capital trials of the criminal who committed the felony. Many experts and trustworthy organizations also stipulate that the death penalty fails to reduce murder rates. That is why life without parole can become a suitable alternative to replace the capital punishment system.
Aspinwall, Cary. “Life Without Parole Is Replacing the Death Penalty – But the Legal Defense System Hasn’t Kept Up.” The Marshall Project, 2021.
Barash, David P. “Executions Don’t Deter Murder, Despite the Trump Administration’s Push.” The Conversation, 2021.
Knowles, Hannah. “Four Years After a Man’s Execution, Lawyers Say DNA from the Murder Weapon Points to Someone Else.” The Washington Post, 2021.
Michallon, Clemence. “A Texas Man Was Executed for a Murder He Likely Didn’t Commit. A New Documentary Asks What Went Wrong.” Independent, 2021.
Robinson, G. “Death Penalty vs. Life in Prison: The Costs.” 10 News, 2018.
Sarat, Austin, et al. “The Rhetoric of Abolition: Continuity and Change in the Struggle Against America’s Death Penalty, 1900-2010.” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 107, no. 4, 2017, pp. 757-780.
Sorensen, Jonathan, R., and Thomas J. Reidy. “Nothing to Lose? An Examination of Prison Misconduct among Life-Without-Parole Inmates.” The Prison Journal, vol. 99, no. 1, 2018, pp. 46-65.
Steiker, Carol S., and Jordan M. Steiker. “The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of the Death Penalty in the United States.” Annual Review of Criminology, vol. 3, 2020, pp. 299-315.
Xu, Yanqi. “Monday Numbers: New Study on Death Penalty Shows It’s Expensive, Racially Disproportionate, and Unpopular.” NC Policy Watch, 2021.