5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Death Penalty
The death penalty has made headlines recently, with the execution of Troy Davis despite serious doubts about his guilt. But, the media wave only opens up the opportunity to discuss the issue further and to highlight the topic of capital punishment beyond Troy Davis and Georgia. Here are five thing that you probably didn't know about the death penalty:
- It costs money even if we don't kill anyone - In most cases where the death penalty is sought, it is never imposed. Even when it is imposed, it is rarely carried out. This chart from the Death Penalty Information Center illustrates the number of death sentences versus the number of executions.That's a lot of state tax dollars spent on additional lawyers, jury selection, sentencing, and expert where no one would get executed at all.
- Law enforcement knows it doesn't work - Those in law enforcement may personally support the death penalty, but they also know that it doesn't work in preventing crime. When asked, law enforcement officials cited sentencing reform and development of family values and parenting skills as the things that would have the biggest impact in preventing crime.
- Victim's families don't always want it - Ronald Carlson wanted vengeance when his sister was murdered in 1983 in Texas. But when he witnessed the execution in 1998 of the person who committed the murder he changed his mind. In a recent op-ed in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Carlson said he had no opinion on capital punishment before his sister’s death and remembers feeling hatred and “would have killed those responsible with my own hands if given the opportunity.” But he later discovered that, “Watching the execution left me with horror and emptiness, confirming what I had already come to realize: Capital punishment only continues the violence that has a powerful, corrosive effect on society.” Continued on the next page