Dear Next President,
Since its reinstatement in 1976, the death penalty has been a topic of debate in this country. It was created as a form of capital punishment for people found guilty of homicide, and is legal in 31 states. This form of punishment should be abolished in all 50 states because it is very costly, it is racist towards minority men and women, and it doesn’t deter crime. Instead those convicted of homicide should be sentenced to life in prison.
One of the key flaws with the death penalty is its cost. A study done by Judge Arthur L. Alarcon & Paula M. Mitchel, published in 44 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review S41, Special Issue (2011), found that California alone has spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment since its reinstatement in 1976. That’s $100 million every year over the past 40 years. This money being spent is only going to climb as well. Abolishing the death penalty would allow many states to save large sums of money because holding a murderer in jail for life costs 20 percent less than executing them. The money states save could be used towards more important things such as education or improving state roads. With the leadership of a president, this unnecessary waste of state money can end, and the money can be used to improve each state as a whole.
Many in favor of the death penalty deny the fact that it is racist towards minorities. According to an article written by Senator Russ Feingold in 2003, 77 percent of homicide victims resulting in execution have been white, even though African-Americans make up half of all homicide victims. African-American defendants also receive the death penalty at 3 times the rate than white defendants when the case involves a white victim. These statistics show the overwhelming racial bias that has been associated with the death penalty over the past 40 years. In Texas alone there has only been one case with a white murderer and a black victim throughout its 470 executions since 1976. This isn’t the only issue facing our country today when it comes to white privilege or racial bias, but it should definitely be addressed and is definitely a big factor in why the death penalty should be abolished altogether.
One of the key arguments those in favor of the death penalty make is that it deters crime. Crime deterrence is supposed to be one of the death penalty’s main contributions to each state, but there has not been a single study to prove that the death penalty deters crime any more than life sentences in prison. In fact, states without the death penalty have much lower murder rates than states with it. If one of the main contributions the death penalty is supposed to have to society isn’t even true, then why have it at all?
This is a topic of importance to me because my family has a connection with a man on death row in Texas. In 2005, my father connected with a man named Moises, who had been convicted of murder, through an online program called The Death Row Support Project. He has been writing to him ever since then and learned about all the things he has went through in his life, and the horrific decisions he made that lead him to end up in the situation he is in. Moises grew up in a Catholic family, and was arrested at the age of 20 on accounts of 1st degree murder. Since 2004, he has been forced to torturously wait till the day he is called for execution. Over the course of his time on death row, he has began exploring religion and different spiritual practices and has begun trying to change himself as a person after the awful decisions he chose to make in his early twenties. Moises started even began writing with a German woman and the two fell in love and found a way to be married behind the glass of Moises cell. Even after wrecking his life through some very poor decisions, Moises has made the best of his situation and even started to better himself as a man. My father hasn’t received a letter from him since the spring of 2016 but he still emails Moises’ wife to check in on how he’s doing from time to time. This is just one specific case and it is definitely not true for all, but there are people on death row that have realized their mistakes and are trying to make themselves better as people. The gift of life is precious and no decision or act is awful enough for someone to have their life stripped from them.
So future president, don’t you think it’s time we end this flawed and amoral system. Don’t you think it’s time we end this racially biased act of trial and conviction. Don’t you think it’s time we give people the opportunity to make something out of the life they still have. Mahatma Gandhi once famously said “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” If we consume ourselves with hatred and anger it leaves us blind to the aspects of forgiveness that are lost when something like a murder occurs. It is for these reasons I wish you would help the people in America to open their eyes to the wasteful, inconsistent, prejudiced, and insensitive ways in which this flawed process operates.
Mendota Heights MN