Thaddeus W. California

Reform the death penalty, Enact justice.

This letter is about the non effective and economically draining death penalty system and how it needs to be reformed.


Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to you today to inform you of my belief that the death penalty in the United States should be reformed and supported by you for the following reasons: Currently the death penalty is a financial drain to our country, adding to the intense strain that taxpayers already have; a proficient and active death penalty is necessary to deter criminals and prevent acts of violence, and because the over-legislation of the inmates on death row has gotten to a tremendous amount and has set the United States back multiple years in regard to execution.

The average cost to incarcerate a regular inmate in California is $47,000 a year. The cost to incarcerate a death row inmate is $90,000 more dollars a year than that of a regular inmate, “The average death row inmate has spent 16 years with a death sentence. No one on California's death row has been executed in 10 years," an Orange county Sheriff explains how much money we are wasting in the prolonged incarceration of death row inmates. This leaves the total cost of a death row inmate at 2.192 million dollars after their 16 years of awaiting execution. Even the method currently used for execution costs American taxpayers dearly, increasing by nearly $1,217 dollars in just one year.  “A year ago, it cost the Texas Department of Criminal Justice approximately $83 to execute an inmate by lethal injection," The American-Statesman reported last month. "That price has risen to nearly $1,300." One method of execution that could counter these rising injection costs is the use of a firing squad. One round of 5.56 ammunition costs only 14 cents, saving more than a thousand dollars in just one quick and effective execution. Making the use of a fire squad an effective and inexpensive alternative to the system used now.

The use of the death penalty is necessary to ensure the safety of civilians in the United States, and deter future criminals from committing heinous crimes, “Our system of criminal law is to minimize human suffering by works or order primarily to forestall violence or aggression. In the question of the death penalty, we must ask ourselves which action will serve the true humanitarian purpose of criminal law. We should weigh the death of the convicted murders against the loss of life of his victims and the possibility of potential victims to murder,” the Attorney General of Indiana gave this speech to serve as a reminder as to why we have capital punishment. There are crimes that completely abolish the right to life and the pursuit of happiness, and if the obliteration of these rights caused by a criminal is to go unpunished then are we truly neglecting the sole purpose of criminal law. Death itself is a natural deterrent as every human being naturally fears it, but the process has became so slow and inactive that many criminals feel as if they will never be punished for the crime they commit; spending up to 20 years in a tax-funded prison making endless appeals and draining our society. Maintaining and speeding up the process to appeal his sentence would cut spending, while also making the death penalty an active and proficient deterrent.

When found guilty a prisoner has the right to appeal his sentence and claim a wrongdoing within the trail. The right to appeal should not be taken away, however, it should be limited. An appeals court reviews what happened in trial proceedings for any errors of law. A death row inmate can appeal up to 9 times, which has been shown to take up to 25 years to complete.. In Utah, 1985, Ronnie lee Gardner was sentenced to the death penalty; however his case was appealed until finally he was executed 25 years later in 2010. A prisoner should only be allowed one appeal for a retrial at the state appellate court and at this point, there should only be three options for that prisoner: the sentence stands, the sentence is reduced, or the sentence is completely lifted. If the trial sentence stands after being thoroughly reviewed, then the convict goes to the firing squad saving America millions, rather than wasting time to conclude something that was already decided 25 years earlier.

Some people may argue the death penalty is too inhumane for example the organization OADP believes a better alternative to the death penalty and the most effective way to deal with murderers and rapists, is to put them behind bars for the rest of their lives. However, this “punishment” would not only put an unnecessary drain on our resources, but would also have the complete opposite effect of deterring future felonies. Additionally, this method is an insult to justice, why should someone who ended three innocent lives, those of which never got to prepare a will or say goodbye to their loved ones, be able to sit around in prison watching television for the rest of their lives? If that's considered justice then everything this country was built upon has crumbled.

In conclusion, revising and supporting an active death penalty would not only reduce economic strain, but would also prevent future violence and create a efficient legislative process. Fixing this problem would not only save millions of dollars but also could save thousands of lives helping to Make America Great Again.

With great anticipation for change,

Thaddeus Weed

Yreka High School

English IV

12th grade students at Yreka High School.

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