The death penalty has long been a controversial issue in the United States. Although some argue that the death penalty should not be legal, there are many who support it. The death penalty should be legal due its moral provision of justice, lower expense compared to life in prison and its deterrence of murder.
The death penalty, contrary to some opinions, is morally okay. The death penalty is kept only for the most horrible crimes. Sentencing criminals who have done terrible acts to prison is disproportionate to the crime and is a disservice to those the malefactor has harmed. Additionally, the death penalty prevents the lawbreakers from hurting anyone else; many people sentenced to life in prison are released for good behavior. Furthermore, a majority of Americans support the death penalty. According to Gallup, 60% of Americans are in favor of conviction for death penalty for murder.
Opponents of the death penalty say it is morally wrong to take the life of an individual, no matter what they did. However, does a terrible crime not deserve justice? A lesser crime, such as robbery, rightly gains an individual years in prison. Should the taking of a life, or lives, be brought down to a similar level? Additionally, those who say that a “life in prison” is a worse punishment than the death penalty fail to see that many criminals get released early. In California alone, over 1,300 “lifers” were released from prison in 2011-2013. Instead of fully paying for their crime, they ultimately received a far lesser punishment.
Many opponents of the death penalty also argue that the death penalty costs more than a life in prison. However, most of the cost of the death penalty comes from the years of appeals, dragging on the case and costing a ton of money. By reforming the system of appeals, the cost of the death penalty would dramatically drop. Besides, according to the organization Justice for All, sentencing someone to life without parole costs around $1.2-$3.6 million more than sentencing someone to the death penalty. The death penalty is cheaper than sentencing someone to a life in prison.
The death penalty has long been a useful deterrent to committing crimes. Since so many criminals are released from life sentences early, many crimes that would not be committed are committed because there is no fear of death as a punishment. A study by Pepperdine University found that for every death penalty execution carried out, there are 74 less murders the next year. The study also states that as executions increase, murder rates drop, and when executions decrease, murder rates rise. A different study at Emory University also concluded that “executions deter murders and murder rates increase substantially during moratoriums (declines).” Furthermore, according to late Professor Ernest Van Den Haag, PhD, Fordham University, “ People fear nothing more than death. Therefore, nothing will deter a criminal more than the fear of death…Wherefore, life in prison is less feared.” It is clear that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crimes, especially murder.
Clearly, the death penalty is useful and should be kept. Death penalty provides justice for those who have committed terrible crimes. It it is cheaper than life in prison. Furthermore, it is morally acceptable to bring justice to those who deserve punishment for their terrible crimes. Finally, the death penalty provides an effective deterrent, and executions correspond with drops in murder rates.
By: Lucas Gemmer