Death Penalty

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/ />Defending a death penalty case costs about four times as much as defending a case where the death penalty is not sought, according to a new study by the Kansas Judicial Council.
defense costs for death penalty trials averaged $395,762 per case, compared to $98,963 per case when the death penalty was not sought.

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/ />Even in cases that ended in a guilty plea and did not go to trial, cases where the death penalty was sought incurred about twice the costs for both defense ($130,595 v. $64,711) and courts ($16,263 v. $7,384), compared to cases where death was not sought.
time spent on death cases was higher

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/ />The Department of Corrections said housing prisoners on death row cost more than twice as much per year ($49,380) as for prisoners in the general population ($24,690).

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/ />1,188 people were executed in the US from 1977 through 2009, primarily by means of lethal injection. Most death penalty cases involve the execution of murderers although capital punishment can also be applied for treason, espionage, and other crimes.

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/ />Proponents of the death penalty say it is an important tool for preserving law and order, deters crime, and costs less than life imprisonment. They argue that retribution or "an eye for an eye" honors the victim, helps console grieving families, and ensures that the perpetrators of heinous crimes never have an opportunity to cause future tragedy.

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/ />Opponents of capital punishment say it has no deterrent effect on crime, wrongly gives governments the power to take human life, and perpetuates social injustices by disproportionately targeting people of color (racist) and people who cannot afford good attorneys (classist). They say lifetime jail sentences are a more severe and a less expensive punishment than death.

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/ /> "Common sense, lately bolstered by statistics, tells us that the death penalty will deter murder... People fear nothing more than death. Therefore, nothing will deter a criminal more than the fear of death... life in prison is less feared. Murderers clearly prefer it to execution -- otherwise, they would not try to be sentenced to life in prison instead of death... Therefore, a life sentence must be less deterrent than a death sentence. And we must execute murderers as long as it is merely possible that their execution protects citizens from future murder."

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There is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than long terms of imprisonment. States that have death penalty laws do not have lower crime rates or murder rates than states without such laws. And states that have abolished capital punishment show no significant changes in either crime or murder rates. The death penalty has no deterrent effect. Claims that each execution deters a certain number of murders have been thoroughly discredited by social science research."
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
"The Death Penalty: Questions and Answers," ACLU.org
Apr. 9, 2007

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/ />Only 21 countries used the death penalty in 2012, according to Amnesty International. The United States had the fifth most executions, behind China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

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/ /> Twenty percent more Americans believed it wasn't an effective deterrent in 2004 than did in 1991.

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"In the course of my work, I believe I have reviewed every state and federal study of the costs of the death penalty in the past 25 years. One element is common to all of these studies: They all concluded that the cost of the death penalty amounts to a net expense to the state and the taxpayers. Or to put it differently,the death penalty is clearly more expensive than a system handling similar cases with a lesser punishment. [It] combines the costliest parts of both punishments: lengthy and complicated death penalty trials, followed by incarceration for life... Everything that is needed for an ordinary trial is needed for a death penalty case, only more so:
• More pre-trial time...
• More experts...
• Twice as many attorneys...
• Two trials instead of one will be conducted: one for guilt and one for punishment.
• And then will come a series of appeals during which the inmates are held in the high security of death row."

Richard C. Dieter, MS, JD
Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center
Testimony to the Judiciary Committee of the Colorado State House of Representatives regarding "House Bill 1094 - Costs of the Death Penalty and Related Issues"
Feb. 7, 2007

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"Since the reinstatement of the modern death penalty, 87 people have been freed from death row because they were later proven innocent. That is a demonstrated error rate of 1 innocent person for every 7 persons executed. When the consequences are life and death, we need to demand the same standard for our system of justice as we would for our airlines... It is a central pillar of our criminal justice system that it is better that many guilty people go free than that one innocent should suffer... Let us reflect to ensure that we are being just. Let us pause to be certain we do not kill a single innocent person. This is really not too much to ask for a civilized society."
Russ Feingold, JD
US Senator (D-WI)
introducing the "National Death Penalty Moratorium Act of 2000"
April 26, 2000

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/ />Seeking a more humane method of execution than hanging, New York built the first electric chair in 1888 and executed William Kemmler in 1890

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/ />For execution by the electric chair, the person is usually shaved and strapped to a chair with belts that cross his chest, groin, legs, and arms. A metal skullcap-shaped electrode is attached to the scalp and forehead over a sponge moistened with saline. The sponge must not be too wet or the saline short-circuits the electric current, and not too dry, as it would then have a very high resistance. An additional electrode is moistened with conductive jelly (Electro-Creme) and attached to a portion of the prisoner's leg that has been shaved to reduce resistance to electricity. The prisoner is then blindfolded. (Hillman, 1992 and Weisberg, 1991) After the execution team has withdrawn to the observation room, the warden signals the executioner, who pulls a handle to connect the power supply. A jolt of between 500 and 2000 volts, which lasts for about 30 seconds, is given. The current surges and is then turned off, at which time the body is seen to relax. The doctors wait a few seconds for the body to cool down and then check to see if the inmate's heart is still beating. If it is, another jolt is applied. This process continues until the prisoner is dead.

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/ />During electrocution, the prisoner's hands often grip the chair and there may be violent movement of the limbs which can result in dislocation or fractures. The tissues swell. Defecation occurs. Steam or smoke rises and there is a smell of burning. (Hillman, 1992 and Weisberg, 1991)

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/ />Electrocution - ...the prisoner's eyeballs sometimes pop out and rest on [his] cheeks. The prisoner often defecates, urinates, and vomits blood and drool. The body turns bright red as its temperature rises, and the prisoner's flesh swells and his skin stretches to the point of breaking. Sometimes the prisoner catches fire....Witnesses hear a loud and sustained sound like bacon frying, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh permeates the chamber. (Ecenbarger, 1994)

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/ />Today, all of the 32 states that have the death penalty use lethal injection for the death penalty.

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/ />When this method is used, the condemned person is usually bound to a gurney and a member of the execution team positions several heart monitors on this skin. Two needles (one is a back-up) are then inserted into usable veins, usually in the inmates arms. Long tubes connect the needle through a hole in a cement block wall to several intravenous drips. The first is a harmless saline solution that is started immediately. Then, at the warden's signal, a curtain is raised exposing the inmate to the witnesses in an adjoining room. Then, the inmate is injected with sodium thiopental - an anesthetic, which puts the inmate to sleep.

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/ />What causes death in lethal injection - pavulon or pancuronium bromide flows through the body, which paralyzes the entire muscle system and stops the inmate's breathing. The flow of potassium chloride eventually stops the heart. Death results from anesthetic overdose and respiratory and cardiac arrest while the condemned person is unconscious. (Ecenbarger, 1994 and Weisberg, 1991)

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/ />A doctor rarely performs lethal injection but must make sure the inmate is dead.

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/ />If a member of the execution team injects the drugs into a muscle instead of a vein, or if the needle becomes clogged, extreme pain can result. Many prisoners have damaged veins resulting from intravenous drug use and it is sometimes difficult to find a usable vein, resulting in long delays while the inmate remains strapped to the gurney. (Ecenbarger, 1994 and Weisberg, 1991)

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/ />Guillotine - The vertical posts were 3.7 to 4.5 meters tall and made of oak. The grooves for the blade were carved into the wood and are not lined.

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/ />Guillotine - The slide mechanism was made up of a wood carriage traveling in wood grooves. The triangular blade was secured to a heavy oak block which traveled up and down in the post grooves. The blade was hoisted up with a rope running over two small pulleys lodged in slots within the top crossbar.

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/ />In 2005, there were 16,692 cases of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter nationally. There were 60 executions.

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/ />Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

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/ />282 laws

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methods of capital punishment -
beheading, electric chair, gas chamber, hanging, lethal injection, shooting
/>

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Controversy -
human rights, wrongful execution
Abolitionists believe capital punishment is the worst violation of human rights, because the right to life is the most important, and judicial execution violates it without necessity and inflicts to the condemned a psychological torture
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More controversy -
Racial bias
Opponents of the death penalty argue that this punishment is being used more often against perpetrators from racial and ethnic minorities and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, than against those criminals who come from a privileged background; and that the background of the victim also influences the outcome.
/>

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/ />An eye for an eye or the "law" of retaliation, is the principle that a person who has injured another person is penalized to a similar degree, or in softer interpretations, the victim receives the value of the injury in compensation.

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/ />Anywhere from 50 to 75 executions take place in the United States annually, according to Frank Zimring, Professor of Law and Director of the Earl Warren Legal Institute at the University of California at Berkeley.

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/ />Republicans are the biggest supporters of capital punishment, but a vast majority of independent voters and over 50 percent of Democrats support it as well.

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/ />Housing a felon for decades is very expensive. Prisons are so overcrowded that some less-dangerous convicts are being freed so that room can be made for others. Do psychopaths with no regard for human life deserve to live, or should they be put to death with the same cold indifference they showed toward their victims?

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/ />Opponents say that the death penalty is used unfairly. Poor people are more likely to be put to death because they cannot afford the high-powered defense that a wealthy person can buy.

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/ />Financial costs to taxpayers of capital punishment is several times that of keeping someone in prison for life.

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/ />We as a society have to move away from the "eye for an eye" revenge mentality if civilization is to advance.

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/ />Life in prison is a worse punishment and a more effective deterrent.

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/ />DNA testing and other methods of modern crime scene science can now effectively eliminate almost all uncertainty as to a person's guilt or innocence.

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/ />The death penalty gives closure to the victim's families who have suffered so much.

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/ />The possibility exists that innocent men and women may be put to death

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/ />It sends the wrong message: why kill people who kill people to show killing is wrong. Yes, we want to make sure there is accountability for crime and an effective deterrent in place; however, the death penalty has a message of "You killed one of us, so we'll kill you". The state is actually using a murder to punish someone who committed a murder. Does that make sense?

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/ />Scientific studies have consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing crime anymore than long prison sentences. Moreover, states without the death penalty have much lower murder rates. The South accounts for 80% of US executions and has the highest regional murder rate

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/ />It costs far more to execute a person than to keep him or her in prison for life. A 2011 study found that California has spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment since it was reinstated in 1978 and that death penalty trials are 20 times more expensive than trials seeking a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole. California currently spends $184 million on the death penalty each year and is on track to spend $1 billion in the next five years.

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/ />The race of the victim and the race of the defendant in capital cases are major factors in determining who is sentenced to die in this country. In 1990 a report from the General Accounting Office concluded that "in 82 percent of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e. those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks."

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/ />Politics, quality of legal counsel and the jurisdiction where a crime is committed are more often the determining factors in a death penalty case than the facts of the crime itself. The death penalty is a lethal lottery: of the 22,000 homicides committed every year approximately 100 people or less are sentenced to death.

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/ />Eighth Amendment does shape certain procedural aspects regarding when a jury may use the death penalty and how it must be carried out.

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/ />The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that a penalty must be proportional to the crime; otherwise, the punishment violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments.

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/ />In the landmark case of Coker v. Georgia, 433 U.S. 584 (1977), the Supreme Court ruled that a state cannot apply the death penalty or the crime of raping an adult woman because it violates the proportionality requirement.

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Jurors in Washington state are three times more likely to
recommend a death sentence for a black defendant than for
a white defendant in a similar case. (Prof. K. Beckett, Univ. of
Washington, 2014).

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/ />There were 60 women on death row as of Oct. 1, 2013.
This constitutes 2% of the total death row population.
(NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Oct. 1, 2013). 14 women
have been executed since 1976

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