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Death Penalty Versus The Life Sentence Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 2236 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In this essay I would like to consider the economic impact of giving the death penalty over the life sentence. To begin with, death penalty – is allowed by law homicide capital punishment. In developed countries, death is always preceded by a long trial at different levels and as usual accused person has opportunity to appeal the sentence. As a rule, this leads to the fact that between sentencing and execution takes years or even decades. In some cases the death penalty could be commuted to life imprisonment. Sentenced to death by a court may also be pardoned by the highest official of state or governor.

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The death penalty – is one of the most ancient punishments, known to mankind. According to the most common version in the legal literature, this punishment arose from the custom of blood feud. The death penalty as punishment was used before any criminal law in the modern sense of this word. U.S. federal criminal law provides 70 offenses, for which a person can be sentenced to the death penalty. In overwhelming majority of them are different kinds of murder or other crimes associated with causing death. In addition, the death penalty is provided for spying, kidnapping and treason. 

Today, in the United States death penalty is allowed in 38 states. In 12 states and District of Columbia, the death penalty was abolished. Supporters of the death penalty in the United States put forward arguments such as deterrence and retribution. Opponents argue that the risk of executing an innocent person outweighs the desirability of the death penalty and also questioned the fairness of its application. The most common methods of death penalty execution in the United States are lethal injection and electric chair.

As a rule, each state’s law governs and the way of death penalty execution. Most frequently it is used injection, electric chair – in 32 states, gas chamber – in 7 states, hanging out – in 4 states, and the shooting – only 3 states. A number of states do not limit its arsenal of some one way, in some states convicts are allowed to choose how the death penalty would be executed.

According to The Death Penalty – A Case for Economic Decision Making?: “A review of the literature about the death penalty shows that no state has saved money by using it. For example, the higher cost is due to the fact that the legal process in death penalty cases is very complicated, reflecting the stakes involved. Death penalty trials are often longer and more complicated than non-death murder trials. The jury selection process is more involved. Many more motions are often filed by both the State and the defense. There may be more intensive use of experts and investigators. If a conviction is obtained, extensive appeals in state and federal courts inevitably follow”.

As a matter of fact, the average waiting time for the period of 1979-1995 years for death penalty sentence was equal to 69-months (men – 70 months, women – 48). But such a long wait for execution of the verdict is not related to the fact that the timing of artificially stretched. Such a long wait for execution due to the fact that the U.S. has a complicated, lengthy and multi-system appeal procedure. Each case repeatedly revised to test all the evidence, checking testimony etc. Although the goal of all these review – is thoroughly check and recheck all case materials and eliminate errors. It should be noted that such a long wait in itself is a terrible torture for the accused. Recent surveys show that it is much cheaper to keep the criminal with life sentence than to execute them. According to Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty (Capital Punishment), “A Dallas Morning News study of costs in Texas, the state which has executed the most prisoners in the U.S., showed the cost of executing a prisoner, including all expenses from trial through appeals, and assuming the case concluded in 7.5 years, to be $ 2,316,655. Imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security for 40 years in Texas costs about $750,000”.

Obviously, death penalty is the most severe punishment, because it leads to the loss by convicted of the most valuable thing he has benefits – his life, and this loss is irreversible. Money that were taken in the form of fines, or the configuration-constrained property can be returned, the limitations of compulsory or corrective work, will disappear with the expiration of penalties, lost the freedom to be restored after a sentence ends. But life of man, sentenced to punishment by death penalty, is lost forever. That is why I think society should show special care to the death penalty.

To be more precise, deprivation of liberty in criminal legislation is provided for, probably all, without exception, foreign states. As a fact, it is the main punishment for the most dangerous types of crimes and is very common in forensic practice. Imprisonment is considered as a universal form of punishment that can ensure the realization of various objectives criminal law: punishment, correction. In most modern states exists a single form of imprisonment – life sentence. In the U.S. there is no maximum terms of imprisonment and, as a rule, the legislator space are not installed in connection with which sanctions 30, 40 and 50 years in prison in the criminal law and, accordingly, the penalties for specified terms, in practice there. In cases of multiple offenses, the principle of indeterminate sentences of addition, resulting in a final period of deprivation of liberty may be 150 or even 200 years of imprisoning, as described in To execute or not: A question of cost?

As a rule, life imprisonment may be imposed both as an independent measure for the most serious crimes, as well as an alternative to the death penalty or to a person with multiple offenses and sentences. Moreover, in some cases life imprisonment sanctions is provided for in the law as the sole and mandatory measures. In the U.S. body of law provides that a person sentenced to life imprisonment may be released after 10 years of punishment. Life imprisonment is assigned only in case of conviction in “serious” crime (attempt, murder, rape or attempted it; sexual intercourse with a girl younger than 13 years of age, etc.) and provided that at the time of the offense the offender is 18 years old and has a previous conviction for another “serious” crime. In sentencing the court takes into account the circumstances of the offense and the identity of the perpetrator.

According to The Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty, life imprisonment is established the Criminal Code as a principal form of punishment, its goals are punitive effect on the convicted person and the prevention of new crimes as convicts and other persons. The purpose of correction of the convicted person is assumed, however, with specific punishment, it is difficult to achieve. According to its legal nature and severity of this type of punishment is very close to capital punishment – the death penalty, both legally and actually being an alternative to the penalty.

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From the mentioned above we can make a conclusion that we must understand that staying for 25 years, but really – more than 30 years in a single, double chamber system under the action of all the above circumstances, has a limited capacity to establish and maintaining the spiritual and, above all, religious and spiritual relationships is not conducive to the return of the convicted person in normal life as a normal person. I am convinced that it is difficult to survive as a human being, not saying about normal physiological sense during the life sentence. As a result, this person would not be useful for the society in economical sense. I doubt that it will receive a good job and pay taxes in time, so economical effect from this person will be minimal.

Of course it is a debate question and many people have different points of view on death penalty allowance, but opponents of the abolition of death penalty majority. I think that the United States is not ready to abolish the death penalty. I would like to consider the economic aspect of this problem. If we cancel the death penalty or impose a moratorium on its purpose, therefore, life imprisonment becomes a primary form of punishment for especially for the most serious crimes. As a result, content of life prisoners will require additional funding. Ultimately, the burden of additional costs will fall on taxpayers. I doubt that ordinary citizens – taxpayers wants to pay for life sentenced criminals.

As a fact, sentenced to life imprisonment from their first day are in severe conditions. They are allowed to spend money earned while serving their sentences on food, as well received pensions and social benefits. If a person has no such funds, they are denied the right to buy additional food and other essentials. This restriction does not apply to persons with disabilities, as well as prisoners who need special medical and correctional facilities. These categories of citizens can make purchases using funds from their personal accounts within a specified minimum sum. If the convicted person has money, which he earned while serving his sentence, he has not any limitation to spend them on food. 

As a rule, the persons serving a life sentence assigned to them by pardon, instead of the death penalty – is the most dangerous criminals. Their parole is possible in the absence of administration of the prison and the court any doubts that such a person after his release will not commit new crimes. It should be mentioned that convicts usually are released after 25 years of imprisonment and already are in pre-retirement or retirement age. By this time the condemned will lose serviceability and the ability to provide himself by his own assets. Moreover, there will be psychological and physiological changes in his psychics. A person who has completed to a life sentence will not be a complete human being anymore, after a 12-15 years person loses his social connection. Everybody knows how rapidly our lives change nowadays, it is connected with fast scientific and technological progress, as a result, released man would be extremely difficult to go back to his old life, and I doubt that society want to accept him. And most important is that we can compensate these factors by nothing. We should not forget that after 12-15 years everything will be changed. If convicted after 25 years in prison would be released, it would be extremely hard for him to find a job, to begin new, normal life. For these reasons, it is a very high possibility that convicted before person commits a new crime, and no one can guarantee that it will not happen. Nobody knows how people react for a different way to freedom life. To sum it up – it is hardly possible to say what will be the economic effect of these men and women work in society. Probability that they will become law-abiding taxpayers and return to normal life is very small, as stated in The Death Penalty – A Case for Economic Decision Making?

As well as economically, socially, our country is not ready to completely abolish the death penalty and to use its alternative – life imprisonment. With the abolition of the death penalty in the United States will need to build one prison a year. Suppose that in U.S., life imprisonment will be applied to 5-10% of individuals, this means that the prison will be replenished annually 500-800 convicted to life sentences. Thus, the problem with prisons is not so simple if we take into account that the standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners in one prison should not contain more than 500 people. I strongly believe that today U.S. is not ready for complete alternative for death penalty.

Taking into account mentioned above U.S. has repeatedly attempted to abolish the death penalty. However, little time passed and the law once again returned to the application of this punishment. Permanently restricted and the legislative purpose of the possibility of punishment: decreasing number of crimes, the sanctions referred to the death penalty, expanding the list of persons who are prohibited to apply the death penalty. If we follow the trends in the death penalty for more or less extended period, we find a clear commitment to the sequential limit its application in practice. 

To sum it up I would like to express that death penalty and life sentence has its advantages and disadvantages in economical aspect. As a rule, death penalty is more expensive and in average cost nearly $ 2 000 000 each, while imprisoning for 40 years in average costs over $ 500 000 (Minnesota has the lowest indicator – $ 345 000 for 40 years imprisoning). Statistics says that U.S. spends over $243 million annually. For the other hand, if death penalty would be prohibited, number of life sentences would increase rapidly and federal authorities will have to build one new prison annually, what will be very expensive for taxpayers. Of course, except the economically, there is a moral aspect of this problem, but in my opinion, today our country is not ready for complete abandonment of death penalty usage.


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