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Play It Again, Sam

W. Scott Cole

Posted on July 24, 2020 01:46

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The Bureau of Prisons recently began executing prisoners again, with three in one week. The final words of the first one were: “You’re killing an innocent man." The second one had dementia and died crying and apologizing for something he didn’t even remember doing. All I can say about the third one is that life without parole would have been a much harsher sentence. In light of these executions, I thought it appropriate to reprint one of my earlier TLTs, this one from January of 2019.

Ask anyone their opinion of the death penalty and you will get many answers, both for and against. The reasons for it have always rang hollow, while reasons against it seem to grow stronger and stronger as time goes by.

One of the more popular reasons in favor of it is the deterrence effect. In theory, if a person knows he may be executed for murdering someone, he will (supposedly) think about whether or not he wants to face that fate and so not commit the murder. Since some states have eliminated the death penalty, it has allowed studies based on that thinking.

The truth is, homicide rates have fallen in every state that has abolished the death penalty with the exceptions of Maryland and Illinois, and it has been postulated that the reason for no decline in those two states is increased gang violence in Baltimore and Chicago.

One need only look at New Mexico for a recent example of this in action. From 2009 to 2016, there was a slight uptick nationally in the homicide rate. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009, when its murder rate stood at 9.9 per 100,000 citizens. In 2016, its rate stood at 6.7 per 100,000 citizens. Obviously, the availability of the death penalty does not keep many people from committing murder

Death penalty proponents don't really want to look at the cost of the death penalty to society, but it deserves to be looked at, too. When you compare the cost of a capital case from trial to execution to the cost of life in prison without parole, there really is no comparison. Florida estimates that it spends $3.2 million per capital punishment case, trial to execution. At an average $40,000 per year for life without parole, it would take over 70 years for the state to reach that number. If North Carolina had abolished its death penalty in 2005, it would have saved $11 million per year every year. Nebraska could have saved their citizens $14 million in 2015 alone.

Then there is the one thing nobody wants to think about: How many innocent people have been executed over the years? Between prosecutorial misconduct, police fabricating evidence, and inadequate defense attorneys, it is ludicrous to think it has never happened. In truth it has happened often enough to give anyone pause. The number of innocent people executed can never be known, but an estimate can be extrapolated from looking at how many have been wrongly sentenced to death that have been exonerated. That number today stands at 160 since 1973. It has been estimated that 4.1 percent of the people on death row are innocent. That is far too many.

Finally, I have only one reply to those that say the murderer made his victim suffer, so he deserves anything he gets. Do we really, truly want to lower ourselves to the same level as the murderer?

W. Scott Cole

Posted on July 24, 2020 01:46

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Source: CNN

A judge blocked the federal government from carrying out four federal executions scheduled to begin in December, halting...

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