Death Penalty Essay

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Death Penalty Virtually every major program designed to address the underlying causes of violence and to support the poor, vulnerable, powerless victims of crime is being cut even further to the bone… In this context, the proposition that the death penalty is a needed addition to our arsenal of weapons lacks credibility… Scott Harshbarge, Attorney General of Massachusetts

Across the United States, police officers are losing their jobs, prisoners are obtaining parole early, courts are clogging with cases, and crime is on the rise. Over two-thirds of the states use capital punishment, which is a grave mistake by any measure of cost effectiveness. The government spends hundreds of millions of dollars in order to punish a few
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A North Carolina study found that death penalty trials take 4 times longer and cost $200,000 more than non-death penalty trials. In California, capital punishment trials are six times more costly than other murder trials. A Kansas study also found that capital punishment trials cost an extraordinary amount more than ordinary murder trials. The irreversibility of the death sentence causes courts to heighten due processing through preparation and through the course of the trial. In the North Carolina study, twenty-four principal areas were identified as the causes of death penalty cases being longer and more expensive. Some of these areas are pre-trial motions, expert witness investigation, jury selection, and the necessity for two trials. The two separate trials, one for guilt and the other for sentencing, are prime examples of the cost multiplier of pursuing the death penalty. The separate sentencing phase of the trial at times takes even longer than the guilt phase of the trial. Yet, if the death penalty was abolished, all these extra cost would be prevented. The trial itself could at times be avoided because defendants are much more likely to insist on a trial, when they are facing a possible death sentence. That is evident, as shown by the lack of guilty pleas in capital punishment cases. Self-preservation is a natural instinct.

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