Each year there are about 250 people added to death row and 35 executed. The death penalty is the harshest form of punishment enforced in the United States today. Once a jury has convicted a criminal offense they then proceed to the second part of the trial, the punishment phase. If the jury recommends the death penalty and the judge agrees then the criminal will face some form of execution; lethal injection is the most common form used today. Capital punishment is immoral in principle, unfair and discriminatory in practice. It assures the execution of some innocent people. As a remedy preventing crime, it has no purpose and no effect.
Among the many reasons why a criminal should face life in prison rather than the death penalty is based on the number of times when an innocent person has been put to death. Although the number of innocent lives taken may not be large, one innocent person’s life is already too many. Studies show that in this century, at least 400 innocent people have been convicted of capital crimes they did not commit. Of those 400, 23 were executed. The wrongful execution of an innocent person is an injustice that can never be rectified. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty, 96 men and women have been found to be innocent; some were just minutes away from execution.
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These numbers should be convincing enough to prove that capital punishment is not the only way to deter crime. In fact, it has been proven that the thought of capital punishment does not deter a criminal from committing a crime. In most cases, they are not in a clear state of mind when committing a capital offense. A study was published by economist Stephen K. Layson at the University of North Carolina showed that each execution of a murderer deters, on average, 18 murders. The study also proved that raising the number of death sentences by one percent would prevent 105 murders.
However, only 38 percent of all murder cases result in a death sentence, and of those, only one percent actually carry out the execution. Capital punishment in the United States should be abolished. Criminals need to live with their consequences for the rest of their lives, not die for them. He or she will never have to look in the mirror and regret he/she’s a horrible crime. Life in prison without parole is the best alternative for the death penalty. Criminals should have to face what they committed every day of their life; they need a punishment to fit their crime. Death is just an easy escape for the criminal. If we kill the killers we are only becoming them.