Crime and the death penalty




Crime and the Death Penalty

For most crime committed in the United States a fine, sentence of time in jail or execution is the punishment. However, the death penalty is the most questionable punishment. Is it morally right? Is it effective in deterring crime, primarily murders? Whether or not you agree if it is moral or not, one issue remains. The death penalty is not an effective way to deter crime.
The death penalty has existed as long as humans have existed. The quote, “an eye for an eye” is found in the Bible. In the middle ages fines, public humiliation and imprisonment were appropriate punishments for all crimes, and the death penalty for all murders. Today, the Federal law states that the death penalty is to be enforced with convicted criminals for: treason, deserting armed forces during wartime; murder committed by a soldier; kidnapping and murder that involves crossing state lines; murder committed during an airplane hijacking; and of course, homicide. The death penalty is also called for punishment for: attempting to kill anyone investigating or prosecuting his or her activities; advising, directing, authorizing, or assisting in the murder of someone. Also, the Anti-Drug abuse act of 1988 calls for the death penalty or life imprisonment for certain drug related killings. Along with that, the bill amending section 848 of the controlled substance act calls for the death penalty or life imprisonment for certain drug offences. Such as for the possession of 10 or more kg of heroin, cocaine, phencyclidine, or analogue. Adding to that, another drug act states to use of the death penalty for convicted major drug dealers caught with huge quantities of drugs, over 66 lbs of heroin and 330 lbs of cocaine. Even though there are these federal laws requiring the use of the death penalty for the crimes, state laws only consider one crime, murder, to be a capital offense.
In the United States alone there have been 4047 executions since 1930, and 188 were from 1977-1996. In 1996, there were a total of 15, 168, 100 arrests; 33,020 for murder and non-negligent manslaughter. The death penalty was enforced 45 times. The death penalty is an expensive punishment. Since 1976, the United States have spent 700 million dollars for it. Methods of the death penalty include lethal injection, gas chambers, the electric chair, hanging and the fire squad. In a 1986 poll, 70% of Americans favored the death penalty as a punishment for murder.
There have been many comparisons of states that have the death penalty to those states that do not. These statistics clearly show that the death penalty has no effect on the deterioration of crime. The homicide rates in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois rise and fall along with Wisconsin. Michigan, Ohio and Illinois all have the death penalty. Wisconsin does not. In 1994, the average murder rate in a death penalty state of a population of 100, 000 was 8.0 and for a non-death penalty state was 4.4. In Canada the homicide rate per 100,000 people was 3.0 in 1975, when they had the death penalty. In 1976 Canada got ride of the death penalty. In 1986 the crime rate decreased to 2.19 per 100,000 people. This was the lowest in fifteen years. Isn’t it odd that the crime rates were high with the death penalty and low without? Clearly this shows that the presence of the death penalty has no effect on the increase or decrease in crime rates. Even with the death penalty, crime rates continue to rise and fall in the United States. The number of people on death row in 1967 were 200 and in 1997 rose to 3, 100. Crimes will be committed whether or not the death penalty is a method of punishment.
Many people believe that the death penalty isn’t an effective way to deter crime. “The proposed drug death penalty is not only barbaric but also foolish: a temper tantrum masquerading as an act of government. It holds no promise for suppressing the drug trade, and may even be counterproductive.” (Zimmy 35) Time magazine, 1997 said that 52% of Americans do not believe the death penalty deters people from committing crime. In a recent poll of police chiefs,