• Simply GenZ

Things you need to know about Death Penalty

What is the death penalty?

The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, has been used for as far back as we know; in America, it has been recorded to have been around since 1630 in early colonies. Currently, the U.S. federal government has a list of 41 crimes punishable by death, and this penalty is currently authorized in 28 of the 50 states. Methods of execution most commonly in use today are lethal injection and the electric chair. More than 70% of the countries in the world have abolished these practices, yet America still remains to have a selective amount of states who are allowing this to continue besides its inconsistencies.

Flaws of the Death Penalty

There are an excessive amount of flaws with capital punishment; this includes the lack of evidence that it deters crime, racial inconsistencies, wrongful incarcerations, excessive costs, and going against moral compasses. While many would say that the death penalty stops people from committing crimes in the first place, we know that is statistically untrue. When reviewing states and their crime rates, we know there is absolutely no correlation between lower crime rates in states that have the death penalty. When looking at the death penalty cost wise, “A 2003 legislative audit in Kansas found that the estimated cost of a death penalty case was 70% more than the cost of a comparable non-death penalty case.” The death penalty is not only expensive but ineffective in nature.

The Death Penalty and Race

Additionally, there is a gigantic racial factor that comes into play. According to the NAACP, as of April 2020, 41% of death row inmates were black, 42% were white, and the rest were Hispanic or other. Considering African Americans only make up about 13% of the U.S. population, this an extremely high frequency of black Americans being subject to the death penalty. “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).

Wrongful Incarcerations

Since 1973, there have roughly been 170 cases where people were exonerated because of a false conviction that landed them in death row. Without exoneration, that means almost 200 people could have been put to death for something they absolutely did not do. Considering this- what about the cases of people who were innocent and were put to death anyway? We truly will never know how large that number is, and it is sickening to think about. Wrongful incarcerations are a huge deal, because nobody should be put to death, especially by a single eyewitness report, and lack of DNA evidence.

The Trump Administration and Capital Punishment

Since Donald Trump took office in 2016, there have been 13 federal executions carried out under his administration after a 17 year hiatus. There has not been a president who has carried out this many executions within a term in more than 120 years; and it is absolutely terrifying. Many of these executions were rushed, because president-elect Joe Biden has stated many times he is opposed to the death penalty, and will not be carrying out any federal executions during his presidency.

Dustin Higgs

Dustin Higgs was pronounced dead at 1:23 a.m on Saturday, January 16th, 2021; less than a week before inauguration day. Dustin was convicted in 1996 of kidnapping, and murdering three women, but maintained his innocence all the way up until death, as his last words were, “ I’d like to say I am an innocent man. I did not order those murders”. According to the Department of Justice statement, Dustin ordered the murder of these three women, and watched as the gunman shot and killed them. Dustin allegedly said, “ better make sure they’re dead.” Although Higgs did not kill these women, had outstanding behavior in his years in prison, and maintained that he never ordered the murder, he was still put to death. The man who actually shot the three women was not given the death penalty, and instead is serving life.

Brandon Bernard

Brandon Bernard was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m on December 11, 2020. He was convicted for his involvement in the murder of Todd and Stacie Bagley 1999 when he was only 18 years old. He and his friends had kidnapped the couple, and Bernard watched as the couple was shot. With Todd dead, and Stacie “medically deceased”, Brandon was then ordered to light the car the couple was in on fire. Many of the jurors, and even the judge originally involved in his case, agreed that he was not deserving of the death penalty years after it was given. Despite not being the murderer of this couple, showing outstanding behavior, and a large amount of public outcry, Brandon was still put to death.


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