According to the Amnesty International, at least 682 people were executed in 2012 in the world and 1722 individuals were sentenced to death in the same year; these figures do not include the number of executions that were carried out in the Republic of China. Although most of the countries in the world abandoned the practice of the death penalty, there are still 58 countries that carry out the capital punishment. Supporters of the death penalty believe that execution reduces crime. However, statistics do not prove this theory. In fact, execution should be abandoned since it seems to be useless for making a society safer, and it only completes the circle of death and revenge. Some capital punishment’s advocates argue that execution makes the victim’s family feel that the case has been dealt with and the murderer cannot commit more crimes. However, it is not always true. In fact, many families prefer to see the murderer suffer in jail. (Murder victims’ families for Reconciliation, accessed Dec 3, 2013). There are also many families that do not want to see another human being killed on behalf of them. Furthermore, experts say that execution can cause mental trauma in victims’ families. According to Stanford university psychiatrist David Spiegel, “Witnessing execution not only fails to provide closure but often causes symptoms of acute stress.” (Oregonlive.com, “Capital punishment: Muhamad and the ‘closure’ Myth”, by Naseem Rakha). After all, it is not the victims’ families that should decide about the punishment or taking revenge; punishment is meant to be a tool to make a society better.
Another reason suggesting that the capital punishment should be abandoned is its cost. Every case in the United States that results in death sentence costs about $3 million, while a case without death sentence costs less than one million dollars. (The Economist, “Saving lives and money”). These figures clearly disprove the claim that execution is cheaper than keeping a murderer in jail for many years. According to “The Economist”, in 2009, while the US government was struggling with “huge budget deficits”, some states began to consider banning the death penalty as a measure to cut costs. The money that is spent on cases resulting in a death sentence could be invested on social programs in order to reduce the number of crimes.
The third reason that makes capital punishment a bad choice is the fact that it is irreversible. If accused are found guilty and executed, they cannot be brought back to life even if further evidence proves their innocence. It is not easy to find the exact number of innocent people who were executed, but according to “deathpenaltyinfo.org”, at least ten people were executed in the US in the last 23 years with “Strong evidence of innocence”. It should be considered that juries are not perfect; gender and race can affect their verdict. The case of George Zimmerman who fatally shot a black teenager but eventually was exonerated is a good example of the role race may play in courts. According to “deathpenaltyinfo.org”, most of the accused individuals who were sentenced to death but found innocent later in the US in the last 40 years have been Black or Latinos. In addition, being rich enough to hire a good lawyer has an essential role too. All these suggest that the probability to be sentenced to death is much higher if the accused is Black and poor.
Finally, statistics show that capital punishment has failed to deter crimes. According to “The Economist”, the crime rates are higher in some states like Texas and Oklahoma that carry out the most executions than the states where the death penalty was banned. In addition, European countries that abandoned the death penalty many years ago seem much safer than the US and have fewer crimes. Iran is another example. The Islamic republic of Iran has the most execution per capita in the world, and most of the people who have been hanged in Iran in the last decade were “drug dealers”. Iranian officials claim that they execute these people to deter drug trafficking and addiction in the country. However, according to official statistics, number of drug addicts in Iran has risen dramatically and drug dealers have become more violent because they know that if they are arrested, they will be sentenced to death.
If the death penalty is so expensive and cannot deter crime, why do some people still defend it? We cannot deter murder by killing; as the French Author Victor Hugo said: “What does the law say? You will not kill. How does it say it? By killing!”. The few countries in the world that still sentence individuals to death must at least halt the practice of execution for a number of years to see if it affects the number of crimes or not.