U.S. should be held to higher standard with death penalty
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 federal counts in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing case, 17 of which carry a possible death penalty, USA Today reports.
The case is sparking a national debate on the validity of capital punishment, and after hearing both sides duke it out on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, I decided to take a firm standpoint.
Currently, there are 32 states where capital punishment is legal, with 60 percent of Americans in favor of the death penalty for convicted murders, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.
As the idiom goes, "you can judge a man by the company he keeps," and the United States is not in good company. In 2010, the overwhelming majority of all known executions took place in five countries: China, Iran, North Korea, Yemen and the United States, according to Amnesty International.
No offense to the other guys, but the United States should hold itself to a higher standard. And the problem is it isn't even most of the country that is sentencing people to death; instead, like Dracula after he's gone for a jog, it's the South that is thirsty for blood.
From 1976 to 2015, 1,392 executions occurred in the United States, and 995 of them took place in the South, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
If you're thinking, "C'mon Alex, why are we paying to keep these jerks alive? They obviously deserve to fry or at least have battery acid injected in their arms," then I'd tell you to Google due process. In the United States, it actually costs more to keep an inmate on death row due to the astronomical costs of criminal investigations, lengthy trials and appeals than to give them a life sentence.
There's also a matter of the question of what exactly the point of capital punishment is: Is it meant to stop that person from ever committing another heinous crime again? Is it meant to punish the criminal? Is it meant to create closure for the aggrieved? What does it do?
Well, for one, the death penalty does not act as a crime deterrent. FBI data shows that the 14 states without capital punishment in 2008 had homicide rates at or below the national average. I very much doubt Jeffrey Dahmer was worried about the death penalty when he was munching on human heads.
Which brings up another good point: The death penalty does not account for the mentally ill. One out of every 10 people who have been executed in the United States since 1977 have been mentally ill, according to the National Association on Mental Illness.
The mentally ill may not be able to participate in their trials in a meaningful way and may appear unrepentant to a jury.
Those who are tried under the death penalty are arbitrarily chosen. Of the 15,000 to 17,000 homicides committed every year in the United States, approximately 120 people are sentenced to death, less than 1 percent, according to Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
One hundred and forty people have been released from death row since 1973 due to evidence of being wrongly convicted. The system is also racially biased and almost all death row inmates could not afford their own attorney at trail.
Sadly, people are stubborn and despite the mounting evidence against the death penalty, they'll continue their adamant support of the "eye for an eye" theology, but we all know what Gandhi said, don't we?
Alex Wexelman is a Senior Staff Writer for the
Central Florida Future