There's No Evidence The Death Penalty Deters Crime Essay

1756 Words 8 Pages
Capital punishment is very popular with the majority of Americans. Maybe, in part, because it feeds the inborn human need to feel revenge. The death penalty is also very popular politically and provides a way for politicians to show that they are fighting crime. Thirty-eight states have death penalty statutes and several other states are considering legislation to enact it. Yet, is capital punishment really effective and does it deter crime? I believe that it does not.

Polls show that most Americans support the death penalty and see it as a deterrent to crime. In a 1991 Gallup poll, 76 percent of the sample surveyed favored the death penalty. However. the question was then posed that if new evidence showed that the death penalty
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There are too many extraneous variables that could have played into this drop. It could be a fluke or just the natural rise and fall of crime.

The death penalty produces a great drain on the monetary reserves of this country. "A 1982 New York study estimated the death penalty cost conservatively three times that of life imprisonment." (Freedman 2) Often there are calls to reduce the number of appeals and thus cut the costs incurred after the trial. Yet, death penalty trials cost far more than normal trials and this is where much of the extra cost is incurred. Death penalty trials have two phases, and there are special motions and more questions asked of prospective jurors. There is more prosecution investigation into a death penalty case. Yet, the outcome of most of these trials is a sentence other than death. In addition, 50 percent of the trials that do result in death verdicts have the conviction turned into a lesser sentence on appeal. (Ibid. 2) "In short, even if all post-conviction proceedings following the first appeal were abolished, the death penalty system still would be more expensive than the alternative." (Ibid. 3)

Instead of the death penalty resulting in safety for the public by disposing of a dangerous criminal, it can in its final analysis reduce public safety. Many dollars that could go for crime prevention programs are instead funneled into death case.