2004 wasn’t just any year for Nicholas Yarris. He had spent more than half of his life in prison. The fate that awaited him was execution. But on January 16th he was released, and all charges put against him were dropped. The man was found to be innocent. Yarris was lucky, however. Some prisoners were killed, only to be found innocent years after their deaths. All this, and many other pieces of evidence show that the death penalty is a harsh and irreversible punishment with no room for error. Not only can mistakes be made, but the death penalty is not a fair punishment and it does not help the crime rate. Alternate punishments can be used in the stead of the death penalty that are more humane solutions to punishing criminals.
There is a lot of unfairness in court systems. For example, if a male Caucasian murdered an African-American man, the punishment for him could vary, depending on the type of murder and other such details. About 6 Caucasians have been put to death so far for killing an African-American. But if it were a male African-American that killed a male Caucasian, he would four times more likely to be put to death for his crimes. It is also coincidental that the amount of African-Americans found to be innocent of their accused crimes is higher than that of Caucasians. So we can see that racial prejudice is a problem in court systems. Another unfair factor is concerning gender. Women make up only 2% of death row even though the crimes they commit are about the same as those men commit. There is also much prejudice when dealing with the criminal’s economic status.
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Instead of giving all accused criminals fair trials, good lawyers, and equal representation, those criminals who don’t have much money are very likely to lose the case. Those who do have the money, have a higher rate of being treated fairly during the trial and being represented fairly. Mistakes made when concerning the death penalty are very serious. Innocent people could be murdered for crimes they did not commit. Once a person is dead, there is no way to bring them back, apologize, and set them free. One out of every eight people on death row is usually found to be innocent. As expert Clarence Page once said, “…the death penalty poses more hazards on innocent life than its worth.” The sacrificing of so many innocent lives really is a hazard on innocent life. Sometimes policemen force a suspect into giving a false confession in order to get over with the case. This gives the impression that the court system is mere wants to have someone punished and is not particularly interested in whether or not they are innocent.
Studies have also shown that capital punishment does not help the crime rate go down. On the contrary, it has risen. Soon after the legalization of capital punishment, more than 4,000 people were put on death row, and the crime rate went up. This same rise in crime was seen in other countries with the death penalty such as Japan, etc. If this has caused more crime and is not truly a fair punishment, then why do we have it? There are alternatives to the death penalty punishment. Instead of having the criminals killed, why not have them put into life imprisonment. Life imprisonment is both more ethical and actually serves as a worse punishment than the death penalty. The criminal would have to spend the remainder of his life alone, confined from the outside world. This sort of punishment would have an effect on their brain, making them feel miserable and alone. This would be an ample amount of punishment, and it would also be a severe punishment that is fit for the crime of murder.
Executing the criminals wouldn’t be necessary. Also, executing a criminal uses up a lot of money. One to two million dollars are used on criminals that are to be executed if the trial, appeals, and the actual execution itself are counted. Instead of wasting so much money on criminals, why not use less money and put them into life imprisonment/solitary confinement? A man named Shabaka Waglini spent much of his life on death row. Only 14 hours before his execution, evidence showed he was innocent and had not committed the crimes he’d been sentenced for crimes. Waglini is proof that the death penalty really is more trouble than it’s worth. An innocent was nearly lost, and there was much unfairness in his trial. 83% of all executions worldwide take place in the United States. Are we taking life for granted flinging death sentences left and right? The power to cause death has turned out to be America’s most dangerous weapon in court systems. We must find a way to stop it from being misused.