Abolition of Death Penalty in California
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Every citizen in the society is against the occurrences of crime and mischief. In each community, nobody would want to have criminals lurking on street corners. As such, people from different communities, specifically in California, have become more vigilant and responsible when it comes to the safety of their community. In this light, these people have intensified police forces and developed forms of punishments to make outlaws pay for their trespasses. One of the punishments that the state of California adopted to punish criminals with grave offenses is the death penalty or capital punishment.
The legal executions in California were allowed upon the inception of the Criminal Practices Act of 1851. In February 14, 1872, the law was incorporated in the states Penal Code which states that;
A judgment of death must be executed within the walls or yard of a jail, or some convenient private place in the county. The Sheriff of the county must be present at the execution, and must invite the presence of a physician, the District Attorney of the county, and at least twelve reputable citizens, to be selected by him; and he shall at the request of the defendant, permit such ministers of the gospel, not exceeding two, as the defendant may name, and any persons, relatives or friends, not to exceed five, to be present at the execution, together with such peace officers as he may think expedient, to witness the execution. But no other persons than those mentioned in this section can be present at the execution, nor can any person under age be allowed to witness the same. (State of California, 2007)
In the current legislation, under the Penal Code § 3604, the method used in capital punishment is either through lethal gas or injection. Aside from California, there are 34 other states that adopted death penalty as a form of punishment. However, California has the highest number of inmates lined up in the death row as of July 1, 2008 (Death Penalty Information Center, 2009). Up to this date, the capital punishment in California has already undergone many legal challenges and revisions.
A study showed that almost 57 percent of African American perceives that the current justice system in California is fair and free. However, the issue on the existence of racial discrimination within the justice system is still at hand given the fact the most of the criminals lined up for death row are blacks. As such, the society holds the right and duty to protect its citizens and the innocent people. It also lessens the threats in the society’s safety and security. Also, criminals sentenced with death penalty will serve as an example to discourage other outlaws in committing crimes. Death penalty is also a form of retribution on behalf of the victims (White, 2009). Despite the good intentions of death penalty or capital punishment to the society, the legislation still has some social, economic and moral issues raised against it.
The main argument against capital punishment is its denial of the main human right which is the right to live. The act of death penalty diminishes the respect for life and the person’s ability to change for the better (White, 2009).
The implementation of death penalty is arbitrary and inconsistent. Moreover, there are innocent people who have received death penalty though they do not deserve that kind of punishment. Furthermore, a criminal can always change and make significant contributions in the society if given the chance and opportunity (White, 2009).
Another argument against capital punishment is that it does not make the world or the community safer. This is expressed by a warden who had been working in the corrections for 30 years. He firmly believes that the death penalty should be replaced with life sentence without the possibility of parole (Woodford, 2008).
Another argument against death penalty is the high cost it involves. The total cost of an execution is difficult to assess. However, the approximate cost summed up to $114 million every year, still excluding the costs in keeping the convict in prison for life. A single execution amounts to $250 million (Death Penalty Information Center).
It is important to understand first the marginal cost and benefits of death penalty. However, the cost of life imprisonment is not often provided and people do not have something to compare the monetary costs of death penalty cases. “When conducting an economic analysis of the costs of the death penalty, it is the additional costs incurred during a capital case over those associated with a life imprisonment murder case that are significant, not the total costs incurred by the state’s implementation of the death penalty” (Kasten, 1996).
There are groups of people who express their support for the abolition or reform on the current implementation of death penalty. Some significantly argued that in pursuing life sentences without parole is more effective than death penalty and the money spent on death penalty prosecutions could be used in more useful purposes like investigating unresolved cases, improving the crime laboratories and expanding the current violence prevention programs (Death Penalty Focus, 2008).
The abolition of death penalty in California will benefit the state by allotting the monetary fund used in the legal execution to other projects of the government. We do not need to kill people to make the society safer and more secured for the citizens. We just need to isolate them and to keep them away from other people to prevent them from committing crimes. Also, it will save the lives of the innocent people who are on the death row without sufficient reasons and preserve the lives and rights of the people from California.
Death Penalty Focus. (2008, March 27). 47 Members of Law Enforcement from California cite Problems with the Death Penalty and Call for Reforms. Retrieved May 13, 2009, from http://www.deathpenalty.org/downloads/March%2028%20CCFAJ%20Law%20Enforcement%20Press%20Advisory.pdf.
Death Penalty Information Center. (2009, April 17). Facts About Death Penalty. Retrieved May 13, 2009, from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/FactSheet.pdf.
Kasten, Martin. (1996). An Economic Analysis of the Death Penalty. University Avenue Undergraduate Journal of Economics. pp.1-22.
State of California. (2007). History of Capital Punishment in California. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Retrieved May 13, 2009, from http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Reports_Research/historyCapital.html.
White, D. (2009). Pros ; Cons of the Death Penalty. About.com. Retrieved May 13, 2009, from http://usliberals.about.com/od/deathpenalty/i/DeathPenalty_2.htm.
Woodford, J. (2008, October 2). California Warden Now Believes that Executions Don’t Make us Safer. Death Penalty Focus. Retrieved May 13, 2009, from http://www.deathpenalty.org/article.php?id=294.