cost

Four Reasons to Rethink the Death Penalty

Across the political and religious spectrum, Americans are rethinking the death penalty. Here are some reasons why:

Mistakes. In January 2012, Joe D'Ambrosio became the 140th person on death row in the U.S. to be exonerated since 1973. Addressing the issue of biased application, Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan said in 1994 that "the death penalty is imposed not only in a freakish and discriminatory manner, but also in some cases upon defendants who are actually innocent."

Bias. In many death-penalty states, defendants are much more likely to be executed if their victim was white. Studies show that black defendants are more likely to receive the death penalty than others. And in death-penalty states, 98 percent of chief district attorneys are white and only 1 percent are African American.

No deterrent. Study after study shows that capital punishment does not deter murder. The murder rate in states without the death penalty has remained consistently lower than the rates in states with capital punishment.

Cost. As Fox News famously reported in 2010, "Every time a killer is sentenced to die, a school closes." Studies in North Carolina show the state could save $11 million a year by substituting life in prison for death sentences. —The Editors

Image: Time to rethink, donskarpo / Shutterstock.com

 

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Trials and Errors

Among democratic nations, the United States has the highest death penalty rate in the world. As the only G8 country to regularly use capital punishment, the United States joins China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, North Korea, and Yemen as the world's leaders in executions.

  • Since 1973, 141 people in 26 states have been exonerated from death row with evidence of their innocence.
  • 17 states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. However, the federal death penalty can still be enforced in every state.
  • The annual cost of California's current death penalty system is $137 million per year . The cost of a system that imposes lifetime incarceration rather than the death penalty would be $11.5 million per year.
  • Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 35 percent of those who have been executed have been African American (African Americans constitute about 14 percent of the U.S. population).

—Compiled by Elaina Ramsey

Sources: Amnesty International; Death Penalty Information Center; California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice; U.S. Census.

Image: Hands of a prisoner, BortN66 / Shutterstock.com

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe