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Human Rights, Politics

The Death Penalty: An American Case Study

In the UK the issue of capital punishment has reared its ugly head again. The are corners which have called for its return to the UK justice system. This blog looks across the pond to argue against such an action.

As of 2010 thirty-five states in America still used the death penalty compared with 15 against. The states that do not impose the death penalty have had a significantly and consistently lower murder rates. In 2009 there was a 35% lower murder rate in the states that had abolished the death penalty compared to those which haven’t. This immediately debunks the theory that the Death Penalty acts as a deterrent.

If the model of capital punishment proposed in the UK bears any resemblance to that in America then prepare for a shockingly discriminatory system. Although half all of murder victims in America were white, over 75% of the murder victims in cases resulting in execution were white. In California you are three more times likely to receive the death penalty if your victim is white, in North Carolina you are 3.5 times more likely. In 96% of the states where there have been reviews of race and the death penalty patterns of either race-of-defendant or race-of-victim discrimination were found. The death penalty is a fallible and corruptible system, and worse, it is one where mistakes cannot be rectified.

I have trouble with the last argument as it seems callous and superficial, but I feel that it is a necessary to debunk another myth. It is to do with money. Quite simply the cost of death penalty cases far outstrip the cost of life imprisonment. Texas spends an average of $2.3 million dollars per death penalty case which is around three times more than the cost of imprisoning someone in a maximum security prison for 40 years.

The death penalty is an illogical, costly and morally bankrupt system that has failed to deter murder, thankfully even if the debate ever reaches Parliament, it will never be passed.




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