Capital Punishment has been one of the most controversial topics in the past decade, and for that, I will only be addressing certain aspects of the argument, due to its broadness. What is cruel and unusual punishment? Is having a man shot in the head or hung by a rope until he dies cruel and unusual? Also, why is it that the unknowing American taxpayer has to blow their hard-earned money on nonhuman-like criminals who feel no remorse for what they have done? The answer is elementary, Capital Punishment is unconstitutional and not cost-effective. According to the 8th Amendment of the Constitution, the people of the United States shall in no way receive any cruel or unusual punishment. That being the case, then what is cruel and unusual punishment? It is safe to say that Capital Punishment is highly unused and therefore unusual punishment.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center nearly a fourth of the United States does not have an acting death penalty and of those that do nine have executed 3 or fewer inmates since 1976. Knowing these facts you can only conclude that the death penalty is highly unused and therefore is unusual punishment. Cruelty is even more obvious when you examine the current methods of capital punishment. Electrocution, hanging, and a firing squad all of which are all barbaric in origin, to begin with. As stated by one of the Florida State Supreme Court Justices “execution by electrocution is a spectacle whose time has passed… Florida’s electric chair, by its own track record, has proven itself to be a dinosaur more benefiting the laboratory of Baron Frankenstein than the death chamber of Florida State Prison” (the Death Penalty Information Center).
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The Webster’s Dictionary defines justice as a “principle of moral or ideal rightness.” Nowhere does he describe justice as a nonforgiving force in which the punishment for a crime is death? Webster states that justice is an act conducted in a moral and reasonable fashion. The Supreme Court of the United States agreed with Webster in their search for justice in 1976 when they voted the death penalty was unconstitutional in Woodson v. North Carolina. The Supreme Court and Webster do not solely share this opinion about the death penalty, a Hart Research Poll of police chiefs in the U.S. found that the majority of chiefs do not believe that the death penalty is an effective law enforcement tool (The Death Penalty Information Center).
To examine how American taxpayers get shafted by Capital Punishment, take a look at states like North Carolina and Texas. According to the most comprehensive study in the country, (Duke University in May of 1993) North Carolina spent an extra 2.16 million per execution over the cost of non-death penalty murder cases with a sentence of imprisonment for life. In Texas, a death penalty case cost an average of 2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years (Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992). To stand back and examine Capital Punishment on a national level, we have wasted an extra 700 million dollars since 1976 on the death penalty (the Death Penalty Information Center).
To many, Capital Punishment would seem to work as a deterrence for violent crimes. However, when you analyze the facts your cloudy vision soon becomes clear. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, the South had the highest murder rate in the country in 1996 followed by the West, Midwest, and Northeast. The murder rate in the South that year was 9.0 and the South overwhelmingly killed the most in the country (81%). The Northeast on the other hand killed less than 1% and had the lowest murder rate by far at 5.4 (the Death Penalty Information Center). With this statistic, it is only fitting to say that Capital Punishment has failed as deterrence for crime. As of late public opinion in the United States has shifted. As stated by the Death Penalty Information Center public support for Capital Punishment drops below 50% when voters are presented with alternative sentences.
The justice system is not perfect in any way, and because of that, I can not conceive how we can keep an offensive type conviction such as the death penalty in our arsenal. Considering that the death penalty has no appeals and there is no turning back, what is done is done. In the past, there have been several cases whereas a whole many thought that the justice system put an innocent man to death. Not to mention the fact there are many death row inmates that are released because of either poor representation at trial or new evidence to their case. For that reason as well, it is without a doubt that Capital Punishment is unconstitutional and not cost-effective.