Marzili (2008) reckons that death penalty has been used over the years by different societies across the world as a punishment methodology aimed at deterring possible or would-be-criminals from committing unlawful actions (Marzili 3). He also notes that it has particularly been applied when one is convicted of murder. Arguments in support and in opposition of capital punishment or death sentence have been on academic discourse and moral as well as religious circles for quite sometime. The proponent’s grand argument has been that whenever murderers are sentenced to death and later executed, criminals or would-be criminals committing the same are made to rethink their approach to life (MSU 2).
Marzili (2008) observes that Criminologists, Lawyers and other practitioners have over the years tried to analyze and study the rate at which murder declined after murderers are executed but there have been no authoritative conclusive results. In 1973 however, Isaac Ehrilch research carried in the United Sates showed that for every one inmate executed, seven lives were spared as potential murderers were prevented from committing such crimes (Mazili 56-57). The results were similarly observed by his disciples. For those who support capital punishment, the likelihood of tangible results not being felt, they argue, is as a result of lack of swiftness in executing the convicted culprits. For this MSU authoritatively asserts that:
‘’The fact that some states or countries which do not use the death penalty have lower murder rates than jurisdictions which do is not evidence of the failure of deterrence. States with high murder rates would have even higher rates if they did use the death penalty’ (MSU 3).
Indeed, others have supported the argument citing that it is preventive in the sense that people in general fear death more so death that is planned and decided by the courts. Even more interestingly is the fact that death penalty against a murderer would prevent him from committing any other offence ever and thus seen as a permanent deterrent measure (Marzili 67). Further, these executions take approximately forty days before they are conducted (Olarndo 6). But one issue that begs the question why should the convicted be made to wait on death row?
Why long wait in death row
While the death penalty is seen by many as just, some people have argued that often times those convicted of murder and sentenced to death are put on wait for too long. This is more compounded by the cost incurred as any investigation relating to death penalty usually costs three times more than a non-death case (Marzili 50). When one is convicted and sentenced to death, they are usually put on death row during which time the state expends housing, health-care and food costs on them. However, some of the reasons which have been cited for long death row are many and how that affects the cases have some moral standing (Marzili, 58). First, if the convict becomes sick or ill, then he has to be treated before the execution takes place. Olando (2009) provides a case where in 2003 about $121,025 was spent on a life saving dialysis for a condemned killer who had been subjected to death row for six years. This was the case involving Horacio Alberto Reyes who was convicted of murdering Maria Zetina. He wanted a kidney transplant and argued that this would save tax payers in the long run (Olarndo 8).
Secondly, it allows for arbitrary search of any pending justice. Reverend Jesse Jackson had once argued that death sentence is basically an arbitrary punishment. According to him, it does not entail objective templates or guidelines when it should be sought or executed. Therefore, the lack of the objectivity leading to discriminatory practices puts it that whoever is sentenced is allowed humble time to seek redress through an appeal. He further argues that many Americans support of death penalty is anchored on individual propensity to violence, an individual’s criminal history among other factors; parameters which he categorizes as based on race, sex, and geography (MSU 8). The irony here, accordingly, is that these very determinants which decide who lives or who dies are the same impediments to justice. It becomes a moral issue and therefore it is important that whoever is sentenced to death is also provided with reasonable time for reflection and possible nullification of the cases.
This argument is perhaps evident in the fact that under normal circumstances, death penalty does not always fall on the worst offenders. Instead, it may lean towards selecting the weak and the poor who cannot adequately defend themselves due to financial problems (Mandery 44). Indeed, most people who are likely to face death penalty often times are incapable of affording an attorney. This makes them absolutely dependant upon lawyers who are assigned to them by the state most of whom have inadequate experience and are insufficiently funded to attend to the investigative details of the case (Mandery 45).
With this mind, while proponents of capital punishment cite delay or the fact that those sentenced to death are put on wait for long, the logical rationale would be that it allows time for reflection. In sum, capital punishment has both pros and cons but the idea of offenders or assumed offenders put on a death row presents both advantages to both the defendant and the plaintiff.
Orlando, Trisha. Is Death Penalty Just or Unjust? Helium. 2008. Print.
Marzili, Allan. Capital Punishment. New York: InfoBase Publishing. 2008. Print.
MSU. Arguments for and Against the Death Penalty. Michigan State University. 2000. Print.
Mandery, Evans. Capital Punishment: A BALANCEd Examination. London: Jones & Bartlett Learning. 2005. Print.