Free Term Paper on the Death Penalty

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The use of the death penalty in the United States has been a great debate for many years. One of the major aspects of this debate is whether or not we should continue to use this form of punishment for criminals. In my opinion, the death penalty should be abolished because it costs taxpayers much more than sending an inmate to prison and there is no factual evidence that it has any greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment.


One major reason that I believe that the death penalty should be abolished is because the expenses of the death penalty greatly exceed those of life imprisonment. “Maintaining a system of Capital Punishment is far more expensive than sending murderers to prison until they die of natural causes. No systematic study has reached a contrary conclusion”(Costanzo 62). When various states conducted research on reinstating the death penalty, it was found that the cost would be enormous. A study in New York showed that the cost would be $118 million dollars each year to restore the death penalty within the state. Another study conducted in Kansas illustrated that the cost of the death penalty would be $11.4 million for the first year of reinstatement, and that the expenses would only rise each year as more prisoners were placed on death row (Quoted in Hanks 125). When compared to the cost of life imprisonment, these figures are astronomical. “A life sentence in prison without parole is estimated to range from $750,000 to $1.1 million per prisoner” (Costanzo 60). According to these statistics, you could keep almost 118 prisoners in prison for life in New York with the same amount of money that is spent on the death penalty in just one year.


Concrete evidence also exists within other states that show that capital punishment in these states costs taxpayers much more than keeping inmates in prison for life. “In his dissenting opinion in Furman vs. Georgia, Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, ‘When all is said and done, there can be no doubt that it costs more to execute a man than to keep him in prison for life’ ” (Grossman 60). According to Costanzo, the author of Just Revenge, it is estimated that in Texas, the expense of life imprisonment in a maximum-security cell for forty years costs three times less than the $2.3 million average spent on each capital case (Costanzo 61). Costanzo goes on to state that the estimate for eliminating the death penalty in California would save taxpayers in “The Golden State” $90 million dollars every year. He further states that California spent over $1 billion dollars on the death penalty between 1977 and 1996, although only 5 men were executed (Costanzo 61).


A group of students at the University of Texas state that it is more beneficial to our economy to use the death penalty. One student states that in 1992 there were 883, 593 prisoners in all state and federal prisons. She goes on to state, “The 883, 593 prisoners are costing the American taxpayers approximately $19.4 billion plus another $61.7 million for the construction of the 1,143 spaces needed” (Economical). These figures mean that the average cost of each prisoner is around $22,000 per year. However, the student fails to state the average cost for just 1 prisoner to be executed. When looking at this number compared to the figures found in the studies in Texas and California, the cost of the death penalty is almost 8 times greater. I think I, as a taxpayer, would rather have to help compensate for the $22,000 a year for the average prisoner serving life imprisonment than the $2.3 million spent on the average capital case. The student fails to give the readers the needed information to make a logical and educated conclusion on the subject. Another major reason that I feel that the death penalty should be abolished is the fact that there is not any conclusive evidence that portrays the death penalty as being a deterrent to crime.