Capital punishment does not work (guest Column)

Kevin Orozco

Capital punishment is still being used in some states in the United States today.

It is a hot topic debated nationally and there is wide support for its abolition.

There are many reasons supporters of the death penalty use to argue their case for its continuation but one common misconception is that the death penalty deters crime. In fact, the death penalty doesn’t deter crime at all and that is why it should be abolished.

Capital punishment has been around since ancient times.

Old societies used to make trial judgments quickly and then execute criminals swiftly and in front of the public. The death penalty was used as deterrence because the townspeople saw the criminal being executed and it caused fear throughout the community.

If capital punishment were still like this then it might possibly be a deterrent. But in America, trials take too long to come to a conclusion and most criminals who get sentenced to death sit on death row for years during the appeals process before they are executed. This takes away from any fear the execution is trying to instill in future criminals. No one really sees or hears about executions much anymore.

The death penalty is also statistically proven to not have any effect in lowering murder rates. According to a survey of police chiefs around the country, 61 percent of police chiefs do not agree that the death penalty does anything to stop crime. In fact, most of them believe politicians who argue for the death penalty are actually using it so they won’t have to confront the true causes of crime.

There was also a survey of leading criminologists in the country and 87 percent of them also agreed the death penalty is no deterrence to crime.

In addition, states with the death penalty typically have higher murder rate then states without the death penalty. According to a New York Times survey, the homicide rate in death penalty states was 48 percent to 100 percent higher than in non death penalty states. The murder rate in non death penalty states has remained consistently lower since 1990 and the gap has grown.

The New York Times also reports that 15 of the 17 states without the death penalty have homicide rates lower than the national average while more than half the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above the national average.

The death penalty does nothing to deter crime because if it did, these statistics would be the reverse, and police and criminologists would support it.

On the other hand people argue that the death penalty provides a sense of closure and justice to victims’ families. But executing criminals does not bring lost loved ones back — they just want revenge, which is wrong and immoral.

It also costs more to keep and then execute death row inmates than it does to keep them in prison for life without parole. And there is no way to bring back an innocent convict who may have been wrongly accused, convicted and put to death — and this has happened numerous times so it is not an idle argument.

So since the death penalty is immoral, costly and it doesn’t provide any benefit to society it should be abolished nationally. It’s time for America to start being the good example again and this is a step toward that.