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Death to the Death Penalty?

posted Oct 9, 2014, 8:48 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Oct 9, 2014, 8:49 AM ]
Morgan Drake

    On Jan. 16, 2014, convicted killer Dennis Mcguire gasped, choked, clenched his fists and appeared to struggle against his restraints for about 10 minutes after receiving a lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, making his 26 minute death the longest in Ohio’s history of executions. This incident fired up the ongoing debate on the death penalty, with some believing Mcguire faked his agony, and others believing the amount of drugs in the injection was not sufficient, therefore making the execution “inhumane”.

    Dating back to 18th century B.C., the death penalty has been used to punish those who commit various different crimes (most involving murder) by sentencing them to death. While the death penalty used to be carried out by hanging, firing squad, and a variety of other methods, it is now carried out using a lethal injection composed of one, two, or three drugs (depending on the state). The injection in every case causes the convict’s heart to stop. With 3,049 Death Row inmates in the United States as of July 1, 2014, it’s obvious that capital punishment remains strong. However, recent incidents such as the Mcguire execution leave people wondering: Is the death penalty right or wrong?

    There are many things that cause some to be skeptical about the death penalty such as cost (What method is using more of our tax money?) and simply the efficiency/good morality of it (Are we really solving anything by killing the killers?). Almost all of these questions are answered by the Death Penalty Information Center. The DPIC has a frequently updated fact sheet on all of these topics found on their website

    Regarding cost, there are much cheaper options than the death penalty. The option that would guarantee that the convicts would not be released would be a life sentence without parole plus restitution. Some people think that keeping someone alive in jail would cost them more than to have them executed. This however is false. The cases alone cost more than those not involving a death sentence. According to the Kansas Judicial Council, defense costs for death penalty trials in Kansas averaged about $400,000 per case, compared to $100,000 per case when the death penalty was not sought. As for the actual execution versus life without parole plus restitution, the life sentence is substantially cheaper. The Death Penalty Information Center states that enforcing the death penalty costs Florida $51 million a year above what it would cost to punish all first-degree murderers with life in prison without parole. Although not all states deal with such a huge financial difference, the cost of enforcing the death penalty is more expensive than alternative options.
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    When it comes to the efficiency of the death penalty, there are many varying opinions on the topic. Some believe that the death penalty helps reduce violent crimes while others think killing the convicts to teach people that killing is wrong is pointless. There really are no hard facts to prove either side right. However, according to a survey of the former and present presidents of the country’s top academic criminological societies, 88% of these experts rejected the notion that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. Another poll was commissioned by the DPIC in 2009 which found that police chiefs ranked the death penalty last among ways to reduce violent crime. Again, these surveys are simply just opinions, but it does shed light on the public’s problem with the death penalty.

    Capital punishment has survived for thousands of years and doesn’t seem to be dying down at all. Whether or not these facts will eventually change the fate of those affected by the death penalty is unknown for now. Maybe things will stay exactly the same as they are now, or maybe cases like Mcguire’s will change the entire death penalty system for good.