1 In the United States, the death penalty was imposed as part of the English laws upon colonization in the 1600s and 1700s. Sarisky 1 It included some methods such as hanging in public for some punishable offends in different colonies. Today different states have different laws regarding the death penalty. After the US Supreme Court decision on Greg v Georgia in 1976 states have revised their laws to reflect the court guidelines with execution taking place in 34 states a number above any other developed country. Gamble 5 Conviction Surname 2 of first-degree murder, treason, capital kidnapping, severe sexual crimes, arson, and plane hijacking are some of the crimes that could wind up in death row depending on the State Death Penalty Information Center. Presently 31 states have a death penalty law in place with about 3002 death row inmates representing about 43percent white 42 percent blacks. 1 percent Native Americans and 1 percent Asian. Gamble 11 According to US Census Bureau as cited in Gamble 11 although the population of white is 77 percent only 43 percent of death row inmates are white in comparison to 42 percent black who make up 13 percent of the total US population. These statistics explain the uninformed and racially biased nature of the death penalty system.
The American support of the death penalty has been declining gradually since the Rosenberg execution. In 1953 a survey by Gallup on opinion about the death penalty indicated that about 70 percent of Americans supported it against only 29 percent who were opposed to it Bohm 18.
However, these numbers have gradually declined. A study by PEW in 2016 indicates that less than half of Americans 49 percent were in favor of the death penalty, the lowest number since the 1950s Death Penalty. Information Center Americans give various reasons for their declining support for capital punishment. According to PEW Poll as cited in Death Penalty Information Center the majority believe that it is morally wrong to take life others, cite wrongful convictions while religious Americans reckon that God is the only one that should punish. The declining crime rates in the United States have coincided with the decrease in support of the death penalty. Mostly the increasing awareness of wrongful convictions has significantly changed the attitudes of many Americans on the death penalty. It is because among the exonerated about 106 had been wrongfully sentenced to death. The use of perjured testimony officials incompetence and false accusations are among the reasons. Surname 3. That may lead to wrongful convictions Dieter 34. Also, the penalty moratoriums in various states have significantly changed American attitude of the death penalty since several death row inmates were later cleared of their charges. Subsequently, the question of innocence and fairness in the application of capital punishment has led to a drop in its support. These revelations enough prove that capital punishment is susceptible to mistakes in the application and thus should be abolished. The issue of human rights violations emerged after over 100 innocent people who had been sentenced to death were exonerated. The US being a member of a number of fundamental human right treaties should ensure capital punishment is not used to infringe on the right to life.
Although the country has to some extent isolated itself through reservation and citation of domestic laws, its commitment to the preservation of human right principles needs to reflect and reform the death penalty from the perspective of human rights. The death penalty has been cited as an extremely long and torturous time that is cruel and unusual Dieter 32. Dieter cites that judges in the supreme court of Florida have voiced their concerns on the length of time inmates spent on the death row due to delays in evidentiary hearing even dropping death sentences for instance in the case of Ronnie Jones. The US has habitually shown concerns about violations of human rights in foreign nations and its time such concerns are exhibited in domestic issues concerning capital punishment. Dieter argues that terminology difference could impede the realization of this objective 7. Groups and individuals usually protest about the abuse of civil and constitutional rights and not human rights in public and courts with the notion that human rights are given as well as reliance on the constitution using different words to relay related principles in the United States. However, reforms on the death penalty Surname 4 should not only be expressed regarding risks of fatal error fairness or morality but also understanding that US constitutional rights and fundamental human rights principles are similar. After the UN high commission approved the abolition of the death penalty in 1997 the US should also follow suit to enhance human dignity and progress in human rights protection.
The death penalty has often been cited as a uniquely effective homicide and violent crime deterrent but does it deter crime. For decades capital crimes have been widespread in states where the death penalty is legal than in those where it is not applicable. According to Lamperti statistics from 1973 to 1984 illustrates that states, where capital punishment was practiced, had more murder rates compared to states that did not retain it. For instance, murder rates averaged only 63 percent of the equivalent rates in states where the death penalty was applicable 4. It this instance it illustrates that it does have any deterrence effect. Moreover, there is a general expectation that homicide rates should decrease post-execution surprisingly the results from Savitz as cited in Lamperti's study appear opposite as homicide cases were higher than expected. Without any significant difference in crime before and after well-pronounced sentences it is evident that the notion of capital punishment is an effective deterrent is a fallacy. Over the years countries such as Australia, Great Britain, and France have abolished capital punishment for murder crimes after extensive research indicated that there is no significant relationship between the death penalty and reduced murder rates. The proponents of capital punishment often cite the deterrent effect with little systematic studies to back this claim. Instead, their reliance on an intuitive feeling that the death penalty should be an effective capital crime deterrent is a fallacy. The available evidence illustrates that the deterrent claim is incorrect although proponents may argue Surname 5, that previous research is inconclusive. However, if this claim had an iota of truth in the modern society research and surveys could essentially reveal it but none has managed. With the claim of deterrence evidentially false the death penalty should be abolished in the United States of America.
There are alternatives to capital punishment that could offer justice to families and victims of violent crimes. Proponents of the death penalty may argue about the absence of alternatives. However, many other viable alternatives could be useful in serving justice. Many ask the question of why kill to show killing is wrong when there are alternatives. Life without parole is a better alternative. Proponents of the death penalty claim that convicted criminals usually end up in the streets after serving a shot or long time in incarceration anyway Sarisky 6. However, life without parole would ensure that these convicts lead their entire lives in prison and will not be released at all. As an alternative life without parole is significantly less costly and allows corrections where mistakes might have occurred without danger of letting criminals back to society. Although proponents of the death penalty often cite its deterrent effect this claim lacks substantial research evidence. Capital punishment is the ultimate degrading cruel and inhuman punishment in the standards of modern society. The reasoning that it is a way to address homicide and violent crimes despite sufficient evidence proving otherwise is incorrect. Americans are increasingly rejecting the death penalty because of increasing awareness of wrongful convictions and questions of innocence and fairness in its application. The use of perjured testimony official s incompetence and false accusations may lead to wrongful death convictions that cannot be corrected. Moreover, the death penalty is against the fundamental human rights principles enshrined in the constitution under the bill of rights. Therefore life without parole is the better alternative Surname 6. that would ensure justice is served with significantly lower costs and permits for corrections where mistakes might have occurred without the danger of letting criminals back to society. Every US citizen should advocate life incarceration as an alternative punishment for murder crimes and the abolishment of the death penalty because it breaches human rights, puts innocent lives at risk and does not deter crime. Works Cited Bohm Robert M Deathquest An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States 2017. Death Penalty Information Center Crimes Punishable by the Death Penalty Death Penalty Information Center 2017. deathpenaltyinfo org crimes punishable death penalty PEW POLL Public Support for the Death Penalty Drops Below 50 for First Time in 45 Years Death Penalty Information Center DPIC Death Penalty Information Center 2017. deathpenaltyinfo org node 6565 Dieter Richard C The death penalty and human rights US death penalty and international law Lancet 1 2013. Gamble James Measuring the Effect of Capital Punishment on Murder Deterrence Issues in Political economy vol 25 no 2 2016 pp 5 40 Surname 7 Lamperti John S Does Capital Punishment Deter Murder. A brief look at the evidence 2014 pp 1 10 Dartmouth Edu www Dartmouth Edu chance teaching_aids books_articles JLpaper pdf Accessed 15 Nov 2017. Sarisky Kenny History and controversies of capital punishment Contemporary American Politics and Society Issues and Controversies 2015 pp 1 12 www csustan edu sites default files honor documents KSarisky pdf Accessed 15 Nov 2017.