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The Death Penalty: Effective Practice or Propaganda?

Updated on September 13, 2014

Effective or Misconception; Should there be a death penalty

The age old question that remains in circulation in regards to the Death Penalty; does it really serve any purpose other than revenge or does it actually reduce crime. Many studies have been done on both of these subjects as well as many other aspects in relation to capital punishment. It is a very distinctive difference of opinion of how, when and if to use the death penalty depending on your economical status and if you have ever had a family member incarcerated.

Many that support the death penalty have no connection at all to crime living in white suburbia; but those that have been connected to this cruel reality by poverty and living a much different life usually choose to not support. Although very ironic judges, attorneys and many jurors on a capital punishment case tend to be Caucasian as well; which a valuable argument can be made in two different directions.

One being that the judicial set up is coincidental in that you cannot place a person of another race in a position without their personal input. This poses a problem as well if more individuals were to get an education; which is made easier with grants and scholarship for minorities; then the system may not sway one way rather it may be equal.

In your opinion is the death penalty effective in deterring crimes?

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What is Known About Death Row

On the other hand a great argument can be that the system is this way because that is how the ones in power, Caucasians, want it. This idea is very controversial but believable in with the studies that are completed such as the one in 2007 that shows of those that are on death row 79 percent of the individuals committed a crime against a Caucasian person. Also of those on death row the black inmate may face death before the white and of those individuals 42 percent are black (Schaefeer, 2009, pg. 177).

The one thing that needs to be observed is that the death penalty was created as a deterrent to commit heinous crimes. Does this at all sound like what we are doing? I think we are picking and choosing whom and when we will execute someone and how bad does society want to see this happen. I do not think that anyone wanted to see a person like Timothy McVeigh to live only because of the way his crime touched America but the death penalty essentially should be a cause and effect system not an emotional system and we have allowed our decision to be emotionally driven.

The south currently carries out 85 percent of the nations executions since 1976 yet has the highest murder rate of any region in the country. On the other hand the northeast has the fewest executions only 3 since 1976 and remains the lowest of murder rates (Waller, B., 2008, pg. 247).

It is also a proven fact that it is more expensive to execute someone rather than house them in prison for the rest of their lives. The rates are in 2008 it would cost $1.1 million to imprison for life versus $3 to execute. The execution costs more due to all the legal fees (Schaefer, 2009, pg.177). Also if we are emotionally driven it is more torturous to live the rest of your life in prison.

Plus the time constraints that allow this system to run less than sluggish from sentencing to death a person may sit most of their life waiting on death row for death. How ironic is that to wait for death for so many years. This also is something that should be examined; the revenue that it takes for someone to sit so long in prison waiting for death then the extra revenue to process the paperwork at that point to follow through with the sentence; is this efficient and even less is it a deterrent ( Katz, Levitt, Shustorovich, 2003) ?

With the facts that have always be in front of us I think that this type of punishment serves no purpose, although at one time, until I educated myself, was all for the death penalty. I feel as if it serves as revenge tactics and as personally working inside of a prison, prison life is much more cruel then execution. I also believe that children should not be subjected to this type of punishment due to the fact that I believe our actions are due to cognitive stimulation therefore behavior is subject to change.

Insider Scoop on the Death Penalty

Personal Experience With Inmates

I have personally witnessed such change with a woman that I worked with that received 15 to life for being an accomplice to multiple murders at a young age. She has now served 23 years in prison and the Board of Prison Terms finally issued her a parole date and this is magical for her as her new tools she has had years to obtain can be used for good rather than evil and this is her intentions.

In the end this question will continue to circulate until the end of time; those that are for the death penalty and those against it. One thing that is certain is that there should be no double standard; commit the crime that suggests death and that is what you receive. In order for this system to work the judicial system will need a make over and I do not see that happening any time soon so for now we live with a broken system and those that get caught in the trap. It is almost like playing a game of Russian Roulette and the bullet is in the chamber for the poor.

Behind Bars
Behind Bars


Lawrence Katz, Steven D. Levitt & Ellen Shustorovich. August 2003. American Law and Economics Review: Prison Conditions, Capital Punishment, and Deterrence. Retrieved on February 14, 2010:

Richard T. Schaefer. 2009. Sociology: A Brief Introduction (8th. Ed.). New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Waller, Bruce N. 2008. Consider Ethics (2nd. Ed.). Crawfordsville: Pearson Education, Inc.


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      6 years ago

      is the death penalty effective


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