The Death Penalty
by Juan Brenes
An eye for an eye, a life for a life? Does this philosophy hold true in the
twentieth century? Is the death penalty a 'Cruel and Unusual' punishment or is it
now a necessary tool in the war on crime? With the increase in crime and
violence in our society due not only to gang and drug activities, but also
psychotic murderers, our criminal justice system must decide whether or not
death as a form of criminal punishment is economical, non-discriminatory, and a
deterrence factor of criminal activity.
Although it may seem to many people expensive to keep a murderer in
prison for life, the fact is it is now actually more costly to execute the inmate. At
one time it would have been cheaper to carry out the penalty of death, but now
with all of the costs - including the financial expense and the wear and tear on
our courts and prisons - a system of capital punishment is considerably more
expensive than a criminal justice system without capital punishment (National
Law Journal, 1993).
The costly aspect is not the feedings and other upkeep's of
the prisoner but the judicial and correctional processes.
Ordinarily criminal cases, including murder cases, are resolved by guilty
pleas and without expense of a trial. All capital cases , by contrast, require jury
trials. These trials are longer, more complex and more expensive than those in
other cases, including other murder cases.
Although defendants are able to plead guilty to capital murder, few do.
The fact is the only time that a defendant pleads guilty is when they will receive
some type of leniency, such as in the degree of the charges, the dismissal of other
charges, or an expectation of favorable consideration in sentencing...