Not in My Name: Why I Oppose Capital Punishment

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For much of our history capital punishment has been seen as method to execute criminals (especially in Texas). However, as flawed as our justice system is, many support the death penalty for certain criminals since many of them committed such heinous crimes (or were accused of them), then they must pay. Some argue that it provides closure for the families of murder victims in a way that justice has been served. Some say it deters crime since most people fear capital punishment anyway as well as keep the costs of prison down. However, while the death penalty has been one of the oldest forms of legal punishment in history I have always harbored significant doubts on its morality as well as its effectiveness against deterring crime (yet it’s still legal in Pennsylvania as well as the US). Sure plenty of people fear death and would go out of their way to avoid the ultimate penalty, but are death sentences really worth it? It has already been abolished or ceased practice in 139 countries and in most democratic nations it is applied in only the rarest of cases. And recently, many US states have either abolished the death penalty or taken steps to do so even in red states like West Virginia or Alaska. Yet, many people of both parties remain convinced that capital punishment is a viable form of justice on some certain level. And while the EU has staged an embargo on the drug used for legal injections, some states have tried to find cheaper and more efficient alternatives like a firing squad. Here is a list on why I oppose the death penalty.

1. Support in death penalty is culturally based. Believe it or not, most people who support the death penalty do so because they were raised with the idea as a viable form of punishment. Since capital punishment has been around in nearly every civilization for thousands of years, but just because it’s always been around doesn’t necessarily make it right. However, old ideas don’t always die when you want them to and there are people who still believe that cold-blooded killers deserve to die and our culture gleefully promotes this concept since this is what usually happens to bad guys. To these people seeing a convicted criminal executed is proof that the system works regardless of other implications so much so that they would say anything to justify why capital punishment should remain.Thus, belief in capital punishment has much more to do with one’s culture than systematic effectiveness overall.

2. The death penalty fails to recognize a guilty person’s potential to change and denies an opportunity for them to rejoin society. While society has always looked down on criminals, death row inmates are especially prone of being judged irredeemable because the crimes they committed lead to a death sentence. Sure there are plenty of death row inmates who aren’t sorry for their crimes but many do have the capacity to change and/or amount to some benefit to society.  Let’s face it, humans are complicated and unpredictable creatures. Not to mention, contrary to popular belief, criminal convictions don’t define someone as a bad person incapable of rejoining society. It just means they’re guilty (though to be fair, death row inmates aren’t nice people to begin with). For instance, take Robert Stroud (of Birdman of Alcatraz fame) who reared and sold birds during his solitary confinement in Leavenworth Prison as well as became a self-taught ornithologist and author. Yet, before his birding days, Stroud was sentenced to death at one time in his life for stabbing a prison guard, though the sentence was eventually commuted to life imprisonment which not only led him to keeping birds but also finding a cure for a family of avian diseases. It would be hard to imagine what farmers and ornithologist would’ve missed if this man was executed between 1916 and 1920. Yet, unlike the favorable Burt Lancaster portrayal (who changed from a violent anti-social thug to intellectual and soft-spoken pacifist), the real life Stroud was a diagnosed psychopath widely disliked and distrusted by the jailers and inmates who knew him as extremely difficult and demented as well as a vicious killer. Nevertheless, his story illustrates even bad guys like him can do some very good things if given the chance and that a person’s crimes shouldn’t define one as a human being. Saying that certain criminals deserve death is determining them irredeemable, which in many ways denies their humanity.

This cartoon shows a quick look at the death penalty in California, a state known for its horrible prison situation. Since 1978, to execute someone in this state costs $4 billion with the legal process taking 25 years. And it only managed to execute 13 people. Yeah, it's pretty much a ripoff.

This cartoon shows a quick look at the death penalty in California, a state known for its horrible prison situation. Since 1978, to execute someone in this state costs $4 billion with the legal process taking 25 years. And it only managed to execute 13 people. Perhaps prison overcrowding isn’t so bad at least when it comes to taxpayer dollars spent per prisoner.

3. Executions cost more than a lifetime in prison. While the prison system may have their own problems, they keep some of the worst criminals off the streets who are now serving a life sentence without parole. Of course many proponents argue that capital punishment helps relieve the costs of caring for condemned criminals. Cases resulting in life in prison usually cost approximately $500,000 on average from arrest to incarceration and once it’s delivered, the case is usually closed for now. Cases involving the death penalty by contrast, can cost to as much as $1-3 million, sometimes even $7 million in taxpayer money and they usually involve a lengthy and complex appeals process sometimes lasting a decade on average all because someone’s life is on the line. Thus, death penalty cases involve more lawyers, more witnesses, more experts, longer jury selection process, more pre-trial motions,  an entirely separate trial for sentencing, and countless other expenses that could rack up costly expenses before a single appeal is filed. Add to that the fact most death penalty trials are found to be significantly flawed and must be re-done, sometimes more than once. Even in most cases in which the death penalty is sought, it’s almost never imposed. And when it is imposed, it’s rarely carried out. Still, the costs of all this regardless of outcome is paid by the taxpayers. These proceedings divert resources which could be better used for more positive endeavors like helping homicide survivors, education and social programs, scholarships for orphans, libraries, hiring more police officers, and other things. Not only that, but money may be the main reason why more states have decided to abandon capital punishment in the first place. As much as caring for condemned criminals costs taxpayers, it’s much cheaper than trying to execute them.

In recent years, wrongful convictions have become more apparent in the American legal system in recent years. Recent years have seen more exonerations by DNA evidence. And this has gone up for death row inmates as well. Thus, it's apparent that capital punishment kills innocent people. As to how many, it will never be known.

In recent years, wrongful convictions have become more apparent in the American legal system in recent years. Recent years have seen more exonerations by DNA evidence. And this has gone up for death row inmates as well. Thus, it’s apparent that capital punishment kills innocent people. As to how many, it will never be known.

4. You can’t remedy a wrongful execution. In the criminal justice system, there is always a potential for error whether it be the acquittal of a known murderer or the conviction of someone completely innocent. Of course, if there’s a miscarriage of justice, the system should be able to correct it in due time. Sure some murderers may be free to kill another day but that doesn’t mean they’d necessarily be lucky the next time. And innocent people serving time in prison can always be exonerated via DNA evidence. However, whenever the system sentences someone to death, one of the reasons why the death penalty legal process is so long and complicated is just to ensure that innocent people aren’t wrongfully executed. Yet, even with these protections, there’s still a risk of carrying out a wrongful execution which can’t be taken back. In the US, since the 1973 around 143 death row inmates have been exonerated and most simply because of the weak cases against them and nine times more frequently than others convicted of murder. Some haven’t been so lucky and it’s very difficult to determine how many innocent people were executed there’s often insufficient motivation once an execution occurs. Still, whenever someone is accused of a serious crime, there are plenty of factors that can result in wrongful conviction like inadequate legal representation, government misconduct, eyewitness error and perjured testimony, junk science, racism, snitch testimony, false confessions, suppression and/or misinterpretation of evidence, and social pressure to solve a case. Our criminal justice system is far from perfect and can’t be right 100% of the time. Yet, in capital cases, a wrongful conviction can be deadly and you can’t take back a human life.

This is a chart depicting the causes of wrongful convictions. A lot of this involves government misconduct. But this can also include erroneous eyewitness testimony, false confessions, bad legal representation, informants, and others. And each case can have multiple causes.

This is a chart depicting the causes of wrongful convictions. A lot of this involves government misconduct. But this can also include erroneous eyewitness testimony, false confessions, bad legal representation, informants, and others. And each case can have multiple causes.

5. Most death row inmates were convicted while being defended by court-appointed attorneys who are often the worst paid, most-inexperienced, and least-skillful lawyers. The quality of legal representation provided plays a determining factor whether a defendant will face execution. Since most defendants in capital cases are too poor to afford a lawyer, the job defending the accused will usually fall to public defenders. Yet, these court appointed attorneys are often overworked, underpaid, or lack the experience to take on death penalty cases that they are inadequate providing a good defense. There are some instances where defense attorneys have arrived to court drunk, slept through the proceedings or failed to do any work in preparation for the sentencing phase. Also, whenever a capital case is set aside by a federal court, it mostly because the defense attorney’s incompetence that the accused’s constitutional right to effective counsel was violated. And it’s not uncommon for the defense attorney to be disbarred or disciplined for unethical or criminal behavior. Alabama has been notorious for providing especially shoddy counsel to defendants in capital cases. It has the distinction as the only state with no statewide public defender system though its death row inmates are overwhelmingly poor. In the US, we expect everyone to have a right to a fair trial, especially if a person’s life is at stake. Yet, if defendants in capital cases are given inadequate legal representation, how can they receive a fair trial?

6. Capital punishment doesn’t deter crime. Many proponents would argue that capital punishment by saying that it’s the ultimate warning against all crimes and sets an example to other would be criminals. Yet, while many people fear a death sentence, fear is hardly a good teaching tool and capital punishment’s effectiveness in deterring crime is questionable. In fact, there is no reliable evidence whether the death penalty has any effect on homicide rates at all as most criminologists believe. Some may argue that using the death penalty may brutalize society and lead to more murders and most proponents no longer consider deterrence as a serious justification for its continued use. The threat of execution may dissuade some from committing premeditated murder and so does getting caught. Not to mention, many murders are committed in moments of passion, anger, or by criminal substance abusers or acting impulsively. Those who commit first degree murder, either don’t expect to get caught or don’t weigh the consequences. Sometimes the legal consequences don’t even matter since some criminals may see life in prison as a fate worse than death anyway. Not to mention, consider the fact capital punishment has existed for thousands of years, yet people still commit murder regardless of the ultimate penalty.

Racial disparities are endemic in our criminal justice system. In capital cases, while a significant portion involve a black or Hispanic defendant, the overwhelming majority involve white victims. Looking at these disparities, I can't blame the people at Black Lives Matter for stating their case. These states are just despicable.

Racial disparities are endemic in our criminal justice system. In capital cases, while a significant portion involve a black or Hispanic defendant, the overwhelming majority involve white victims. Looking at these disparities, I can’t blame the people at Black Lives Matter for stating their case.

7. Race and socioeconomics of both defendant and victim play determining roles on who lives and who dies. Discrimination by socioeconomics and race have always been a problem in the criminal justice system and it is no different in capital cases. In our criminal justice system, it’s not unusual for poor black and Hispanic defendants to receive harsh sentences, especially if the victim was a white person. Death sentences are issued and/or sought by a prosecutor were more likely involve a black or Hispanic defendant killing a white person than white defendant killing a person of color. This is the case especially in the South given its legacy for racial discrimination as well as its tendency to apply the death penalty more than any other part of the country. And most of the time the defendant is poor so they won’t have an adequate defense. Not to mention, out of all the 143 death row inmates exonerated for innocence, most of them were either black or Hispanic as well. The racial and socioeconomic disparity regarding the death penalty can’t be ignored because it seems to be a statement that the lives of impoverished minorities are less important than whites and that killing a white person can mean the harshest of penalties. In short, most of those executed consists of those with the fewest resources to defend themselves as well as the color of their skin. We shouldn’t have that.

The lottery determining who gets the death penalty in America vastly depends on location. Defendants who live in Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Arizona are the most likely to get executed in the country. Texas is notorious for carrying out the death penalty that I'm surprised it executed only 15 people in 2012.

The lottery determining who gets the death penalty in America vastly depends on location. Defendants who live in Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Arizona are the most likely to get executed in the country. Texas is notorious for carrying out the death penalty that I’m surprised it executed only 15 people in 2012.

8. Jurisdiction politics play major roles in capital cases than the facts of the crime itself and is applied at random. Another major factor in capital cases pertains to the makeup of juries which can also determine whether the defendant will receive a death sentence. A juror’s race, religion, and attitude toward the death penalty can influence how they cast the first vote during the jury’s penalty phase. White Southern Baptist males are more likely to support the death penalty than any other group and thus are more likely to cast first for death as well as be selected for these juries. Jury selection in these cases could be rife with discrimination which tend to ensue juries to be disproportionately prone to handing down guilty verdicts and death sentences. Many are said to have decided a defendant’s guilt and sentence before the trial even began and have a tendency to not understand their own duties such as considering mitigating evidence. Juries in capital trials are even said to deliberate less thoroughly and less accurate than juries that better represent the whole population. Also, give into account that most executions take place in the South and that significantly more death sentences are sought than carried out creates a lethal lottery in the criminal justice system. So it’s possible that a convenience store armed robber can receive death while a methodical serial killer gets prison.

9. Capital punishment doesn’t relieve suffering from the victims’ loved ones. While proponents claim that capital punishment brings closure to victims’ loved ones, they tend to overlook the long and complex legal process as well as the heightened media coverage. These factors can make the death penalty process for victims’ families for many years (average capital cases usually take about a decade sometimes even longer), often requiring them to relive the pain and suffering with the endless reopening of old wounds. Media coverage on death penalty cases will usually focus on the legal consequences instead of the human ones where it belongs and attention is more often centered on the accused. Not to mention, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on the death penalty each year which could be better spent on violence-prevention efforts, victims’ services, or solving unsolved cases. A life sentence without parole can provide certain punishment without putting murderers in the headlines, which may allow grieving families some time to heal since their loved one’s case doesn’t have to be revisited again.

Now this Timothy McVeigh graphic was taken from a satirical newspaper called The Onion. But it demonstrates how guys like the Oklahoma City bomber got tons of publicity in the days leading up to his execution. Now McVeigh was a terrorist who killed about 168 people and injured over 680. Had this guy gotten life in prison, we would've not heard about him again until his death in obscurity from natural causes. He didn't deserve the publicity or have his execution be front page news.

Now this Timothy McVeigh graphic was taken from a satirical newspaper called The Onion. But it demonstrates how guys like the Oklahoma City bomber got tons of publicity in the days leading up to his execution. Now McVeigh was a terrorist who killed about 168 people and injured over 680. Had this guy gotten life in prison, we would’ve not heard about him again until his death in obscurity from natural causes. And you’ll only hear about it in the obituary section. This was the death he deserved.

10. The death penalty gives some of the worst offenders undeserving publicity. Capital cases bring more media coverage and public interest than those pertaining to any other sentence. It’s not uncommon for death row inmates to receive reams of publicity as their date of execution nears which gives them a chance to expound their ideas and become media celebrities. The media attention placed on death row inmates not only can give families more grief but also may encourage others to commit violent acts, especially unstable people attracted to media immortality. Since death row inmates have their days numbered, they don’t really learn from their crimes and may not even regret them. On the other hand, violent offenders who receive life in prison without parole will face a lifetime of obscurity and regret, which may make the path to violence far less glamorous for many. Perhaps maybe be sentenced to hard labor to pay reparations for the victims’ families. If there is anyone who doesn’t deserve media coverage, it’s a murderer. While a death row inmate’s execution gets front page news, a notorious killer sentenced with life in prison won’t be remembered until his or her name appears in the obituary section.

For a long time in history, people watched public executions as a form of entertainment. Today executions are usually covered by the press leaving details of the prisoner's last moments. Nevertheless, executions teach that killing is always a viable solution even though it isn't.

For a long time in history, people watched public executions as a form of entertainment. Today executions are usually covered by the press leaving details of the prisoner’s last moments. Nevertheless, executions teach that killing is always a viable solution even though it isn’t.

11. Executions have a corrupting effect on the public. Public executions have been seen as a form of entertainment throughout much of history since many people didn’t really have access to all the mass media outlets we have today like books, TV, or internet. Yet, given the amount of media attention placed on death row inmates, there is probably no doubt that executions attract some degree of excitement in the public. TV crews don’t hesitate to give details of the prisoner given a stay of execution during the appeals process in the execution chamber. And then there are the last visits from family, the last meal, the last walk, and the last words. Many times this could turn into one big dramatic soap opera with people wanting to see a criminal die. Of course, The Hunger Games may argue that the public likes to see almost anyone die, which kind gives insight about capital punishment’s fucked up entertainment value. And there were even people entertained by the brutality in that series while missing the point the trilogy tried to make. Yet, sometimes such spectacles of executions may teach the public that killing is a viable solution even though it isn’t.

12. The death penalty is incompatible with human rights and human dignity. The notion of the state taking another’s life without questioning the mitigating circumstances is perhaps one of the main reasons why capital punishment faces plenty of opposition from religious groups, especially during recent times. When it comes to right to life, many people believe this also extends to the lives of convicted criminals and that capital punishment essentially dehumanizes people and society. If life is considered an inherent human right, then capital punishment must be a human rights abuse, especially since its also attached to a bunch of other forms of injustice. Many believe such abuses to be unacceptable, especially if such actions are illegal among the general public. Some may claim that it’s impossible for anyone to determine who deserves to die or be spared. It also violates a person’s right not to be tortured or be subject to any form of cruel and unusual punishment since there is no humane way to kill. Many religious groups oppose capital punishment for these reasons. Yet, since the US continues retaining the death penalty which denies a person’s right to life, then it can deny other rights that go along with it. And it doesn’t help that most countries that still have the death penalty are notorious human rights abusers like Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and China.

13. The death penalty promotes revenge. When someone is murdered, it is only natural for people to want something done to his or her killer. A lot of times many grieving families do wish that the murderer be put to death and while the emotional impulse for “an eye for an eye” is strong, it’s not always right, even if it does appear often in movies. Revenge should never be a sufficient justification for capital punishment in a mature society, especially one that should show much more respect for life even that of murderer. Encouraging revenge through execution only continues the chain of violence as well as increases the risks of angering the condemned’s families, especially if they were later found to be innocent. Besides, even with capital punishment, our society has never endorsed “an eye for an eye” since we don’t torture torturers or even rape rapists since those actions are inhumane anyway. For victims’ families, reconciliation and forgiveness are better alternatives.

14. Capital punishment forces families of executed criminals to suffer in unimaginable ways. Families of criminals never have it easy in any society and tend to suffer not only for the crime but also by the system that tries them. In any murder case, there will always be at least two families who suffer on opposite sides. While the victim’s family has to deal with losing a loved one, the murderer’s family has to deal with a lot of emotional turmoil as well since no one wants to see a loved one convicted. In a capital case, this is especially  true since the killer’s life is at stake and no matter how terrible a murderer is, he or she still has people who care about them and would certainly miss them. Yet, unlike families of murder victims, families of executed criminals have to live with their loved one’s crimes even if he or she doesn’t. And many of them will have to mourn for their executed loved one in isolation while receiving little sympathy for their plight. They run the risks of being vilified and shunned by the community simply because of their association. Sometimes they may even lose jobs, be threatened, or have their homes vandalized. Some ran the risks of experiencing PTSD when seeing a loved one’s execution. Not to mention, many children of executed criminals may not understand what happened or be able to handle it. And many of these families aren’t well off. Proponents may say that criminals cause their own families to suffer but while that may be true, their lives may be so much easier if their convicted loved one didn’t have to die.

The notion that the death penalty involves killing murderers to show that killing is wrong is a glaring hypocrisy. Besides, all an eye for an eye amounts to is just revenge. And revenge is something we don't need.

The notion that the death penalty involves killing murderers to show that killing is wrong is a glaring hypocrisy. Besides, all an eye for an eye amounts to is just revenge. And revenge is something we don’t need.

15. Capital punishment sends a message in a most hypocritical way possible. When we’re young, we’re told that killing is wrong, yet Americans live in a country which still condemns killers to death to teach that no one has the right to kill. Though killing may sometimes be necessary when it can’t be avoided, it’s seldom justified. Yet, if a nation executes people for murder, then perhaps the country is no better than the crooks it condemns. Maybe even more so if those executed are innocent people. Yet, giving some of the circumstances of death row inmates and victims  in the US, it can also be used to show that some lives are worth more than others, which is a very terrible lesson to teach. It’s hypocritical enough if it’s Ted Bundy getting executed but what does it say about this country if it tries to teach that killing is wrong by issuing a death sentence to people of color too poor to defend themselves? Some may argue that an entity saying who lives or dies is equivalent to playing God.

Barbara Graham was a prostitute, drug addict, and a thief. However, her murder case involving the killing of Mabel Monohan shows how complicated a murder case could be. There are conflicting accounts by two of her associates in the crime. So it's hard to say whether she did it but she was convicted and executed of the crime anyway.

Barbara Graham was a prostitute, drug addict, and a thief. However, her murder case involving the killing of Mabel Monohan shows how complicated a murder case could be. There are conflicting accounts by two of her associates in the crime. So it’s hard to say whether she did it but she was convicted and executed of the crime anyway. Probably should’ve been sentenced to life.

16. Life in prison is a much better solution in difficult cases. Even when a defendant in a capital case is guilty and sentence to death, you can’t really determine whether capital punishment is ever justly applied. While some proponents may think capital punishment should only apply to those convicted of the worst crimes, many get executed on serious crimes that are hardly seen as remarkable. Death row inmates are almost always too poor to defend themselves while socially marginalized people of color are especially vulnerable to receiving a death sentence and they usually are represented by court appointed attorneys who hardly put up an adequate defense. And sometimes local politics can play a major role on who gets to be on the penalty phase jury. Not to mention, there’s a good chance that many prisoners on death row may have an undiagnosed mental illness or experienced some form of trauma during their lives, have experienced substance abuse, and may have killed out of anger or impulsively. Murder cases can be very complicated and capital cases can take years to sort out whether the murderer should be executed. However, in cases with the penalties being life in prison, the defendant just needs to be convicted and the decision can be reversed if needed. Besides, sentencing criminals to prison usually falls to the judge, not jury so local politics play little influence in it. Also, most guilty lifers usually fade into prison life obscurity shortly after they leave the courtroom. When it comes to difficult case, life in prison provides a more swift and certain punishment while capital punishment provides neither.

17. Capital punishment hurts other prisoners, too. While proponents may say that capital punishment is a good bargaining chip for murderers to serve life without parole since everyone fears a death sentence. Yet, there is no correlation whether the death penalty does just that. What a death sentence threat can do, however, is increase the likelihood of some defendants more willing to accept a given plea bargaining offer or even taking responsibility for a crime they didn’t commit. After all, many defendants don’t have adequate legal representation anyways and a threat of execution may give them more reason to give up their constitutional right to a trial to save their lives. Scaring defendants into confessing things isn’t a reliable form of interrogation and can even ruin people’s lives. Sometimes execution threats can result in more cases going to trial, which I have already discussed what could happen there. Still, using the death penalty as a plea bargaining chip may increase the risk of wrongful convictions and may do little to deter wrongful executions.

Yes, this is a funny cartoon from Bizarro, a favorite comic of mine. However, being an executioner isn't a nice job since they tend to suffer from PTSD from having to kill. So there's no reason why any correction worker should risk their mental health over revenge.

Yes, this is a funny cartoon from Bizarro, a favorite comic of mine. However, being an executioner isn’t a nice job since they tend to suffer from PTSD from having to kill. So there’s no reason why any correction worker should risk their mental health over revenge.

18. No civilian’s job description should include killing another person. Despite how they appear in movies, the occupation or executioner was often an undesirable job that it was performed by people who’d otherwise be executed. These people were often unskilled in their work as well as suffered from a lot of mental anguish over it. And it wasn’t uncommon for many to commit suicide. Of course, we don’t have executioners anymore in the Western World since many countries have abolished capital punishment or in America’s case, aren’t carried out very often. But when they are, executions now are performed by corrections officers and medical doctors. And these people don’t have benefit of having heard all the evidence presented to them at the trial, which might make some doubt the defendant’s guilt. Like the executioners of old, they’re involved with executions and frequently suffer from PTSD from having to kill. Prisoners pose no threat to our society once in custody. So there’s no reason why correction workers should risk their mental health simply to pursue vengeance.

Supporters who think the death penalty as a cheaper alternative to life in prison often forget the complex appeals process involved in arranging an execution. In California, this usually takes 25 years. That time could be better spent in the court system.

Supporters who think the death penalty as a cheaper alternative to life in prison often forget the complex appeals process involved in arranging an execution. In California, this usually takes 25 years. That time could be better spent in the court system.

19. Capital cases involve endless appeals processes and required additional procedures that clog our court system. Now the US criminal justice system is already overloaded with more cases than it can deal with. And despite what you see on TV or movies, legal procedures aren’t short affairs. It can take years for a case to go to court and there have to be so many legal procedures to take place before a trial could begin. Most lawyers usually try to avoid trials. The criminal justice system is no exception, which is why most criminal defendants take plea bargains. In death penalty cases, trials aren’t optional. If the defendant is convicted and sentenced to death, there are countless appeals processes and other legal procedures that cost not just taxpayer money, but also time and space. And the US court system tends to go to great lengths to see the death sentence carried out. Thus, all the appeals, motions, hearings, briefs, etc. monopolize much of the time of judges, attorneys, and other court employees as well as use up courtrooms and facilities. Nationally on average it’s said that the process takes 8-10 years. Such time and space could be used for other unresolved matters. Meanwhile, you have people in jail for years simply waiting for their day in court. And most defendants are encouraged to take a plea bargain simply because the US court system is tremendously backed up. Getting rid of the death penalty may help move things along.

20. High profile death penalty cases attract top talent lawyers for little or no cost due its publicity and their personal beliefs against capital punishment, increasing the chances of a technicality or a manipulated jury will release a guilty person. While most death penalty cases usually involve terrible legal representation, ones that attract an excessive amount of publicity tend to attract top lawyers who desperately want attention and can manipulate the system through any means necessary in order to get someone off without punishment. And besides, defending someone accused of a horrendous crime garners much more sympathy than representing a crooked Wall Street executive. This is especially true if the defendant is a young white woman who’s fairly attractive like Barbara Graham or Casey Anthony. There are entire organizations that sprung up to fight death penalty cases and often provide funding to legal defenses. And many lawyers have made stomping out capital punishment a lifetime crusade.

Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen was a homeopathic physician and outright quack who was charged with brutally murdering his wife Cora at their London home in 1910. He was tried, convicted, and executed. At the time everyone saw him as guilty. However, it's apparent that the body parts found in his basement were planted by Scotland Yard who were under tremendous pressure to solve a heinous crime. Besides, recent DNA evidence has revealed that the body parts found not only weren't Cora's but also belonged to a dude.

Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen was a homeopathic physician and outright quack who was charged with brutally murdering his wife Cora at their London home in 1910. He was tried, convicted, and executed. At the time everyone saw him as guilty. However, it’s apparent that the body parts found in his basement were planted by Scotland Yard who were under tremendous pressure to solve a heinous crime. Besides, recent DNA evidence has revealed that the body parts found not only weren’t Cora’s but also belonged to a dude.

21. High profile death penalty cases put enormous pressure on the prosecution and police that they encourage misconduct. Since death penalty cases attract media coverage, law enforcement and prosecutors are under pressure to show that justice in their mind has been done. And they tend to do all they can to ensure a conviction, sentence, and execution. And pressure tends to lead to some degree of misconduct which can result in a wrongful conviction. Hell, even in non-death penalty cases there’s still a lot of pressure and fuck ups. Failure to catch Jack the Ripper put British police and Scotland Yard under intense public pressure to solve the case of Cora Crippen’s disappearance in 1910 in which friends suspected that her husband, homeopathic physician and outright quack, Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen had something to do with it. I mean he and his wife didn’t get along before she disappear without a trace and was openly living with his girlfriend shortly after (who was wearing Cora’s clothes and jewelry) as well as selling some of his wife’s stuff. And when they found a set of grisly remains under the Crippens’ basement floor (suggesting she was brutally murdered), the guy was arrested on a transatlantic cruise ship while trying to flee to Canada with his girlfriend (both disguised as a father and son). He was tried, convicted, and executed. At the time the Crippen ordeal seemed like an open and shut case while everyone thought him as obviously guilty as hell (ditto the fact it received an obscene amount of media coverage in 1910).  However, despite how he was about as convicted by public opinion like Casey Anthony but utterly lacked her great fortune, Crippen was almost certainly innocent of killing his wife (well, as far as we know. Then again, we have absolutely no idea what happened to her after her disappearance). We know this for these reasons:

  1. Modern DNA test results show that the remains found in his basement not only weren’t Cora’s but also belonged to a man. (This based on mitochondrial DNA tests from the torso against that of Cora’s great-nieces and one DNA test method that’s highly sensitive to the Y chromosome {which was done several times}. However, the DNA stuff has been contested).
  2. Cora Crippen disappeared in January of that year while Dr. Crippen was arrested in July, which was around the time the remains were found. Thus, this would mean the remains would’ve been sitting in the Crippens’ basement for almost 6 months. During this time Scotland Yard had searched the Crippens’ home a total of 5 times.
  3. The remains were found under the Crippens’ basement floor in an area that was under the dining room. As someone who’s seen dead critters decompose on the side of the road, I’m well aware that decaying flesh gives off an odor that is strong and foul. And even the stench of a dead possum can be smelled from several feet away. If Dr. Crippen killed his wife and disposed her remains in his basement, then the police should’ve been able to find Cora’s body parts on their first search. Not on their fifth within a 6 month period. Large areas in the house should’ve carried a stench that there was a dead body in there.
  4. The remains were said to be placed in quicklime to be destroyed. While dry lime can disintegrate stuff in no time, the dirt underneath the Crippens’ basement floor was wet. And when lime meets water, it becomes slaked lime which is a preservative. The cops should’ve found more body parts.
  5. The remains included no head, limbs, and skeleton. In fact, they mostly consisted of soft tissue such as skin, hair, organs, and muscle. Anyone who’s worked with dead bodies can tell you that soft tissue usually decomposes before bones. So why the police were able to find soft tissue in Crippen’s basement and not bones? Even Raymond Chandler thought it was unbelievable that this guy can dispose his wife’s limbs, head, and skeleton successfully but bury the torso under the cellar floor of his home. And the way the authorities try to justify how Crippen disposed the other body parts pertain to methods you see on Breaking Bad or Dexter.
  6. Police reports state that the victim had been poisoned and then mutilated and dismembered. Most poisoners usually try to cover up their murders by doing all they could to make it look like an accident. Such sick acts like mutilation are extremely rare among poisoners and are things we associate with serial killers like Jack the Ripper. In fact, this is the only poisoning case involving dismemberment most poison experts are aware of. Besides, such acts seem such an unnecessary step for someone who wants to quickly dispose a body.
  7. The so-called scar tissue found that was interpreted as consistent with one Cora was known to have due to the hair follicles, which convinced the jury that the remains found at the Crippen house were hers. Scars don’t have hair follicles, a fact so obvious in 1910 that Dr. Crippen’s defense pointed it out.
  8. The circumstances surrounding how the remains were discovered gives me the impression that someone put them at the scene with the intention to be found and to make Crippen seem like very sick individual. Remains suggesting a horrifically grisly murder would be guaranteed to make headlines. And the case didn’t go public until after the remains were found. The fact Scotland Yard was under tremendous pressure to arrest someone for a heinous crime gives me reason to think that the remains were planted during the final search.

It’s obvious that Crippen was a victim of police misconduct of planting evidence, which not only got him convicted of murder but also got him hanged. I’m not sure how much the death penalty influenced this case in 1910 since it was applied far more often, but a high profile case like Crippen’s does fall prey to errors by the prosecution whether it be police brutality, planting evidence, mistaking the evidence, politics, racial profiling, or what not.

No, this isn't a bed from Christian Grey's sex dungeon. This is a bed they use to restrain a prisoner for lethal injection, the most popular method and

No, this isn’t a bed from Christian Grey’s sex dungeon. This is a bed they use to restrain a prisoner for lethal injection, the most popular method and “humane” execution method in America. This involves strapping a person to this thing, knocking them out, and injecting a bunch of poisons in them. Sounds like a humane way to execute someone? Didn’t think so.

22. There is no such thing as a humane execution. For a long time in history, executions happened all the time and nobody gave a shit whether the methods were humane or not, at least until recent times. In fact, in the olden days, executions were supposed to be agonizing, slow, and cause much suffering as possible. Think of Jesus’s crucifixion and how he suffered a horrifying and tortuous death on a cross. Yes, it’s brutal but that was how most people before recently, thought how executions should be. And they were done in public to scare people straight as well as provide entertainment for the community. The idea that punishment shouldn’t be cruel and unusual is a recent invention. But nowadays, we tend to struggle with not having cruel and unusual punishment when it comes to the death penalty since it involves killing someone. Since the idea that capital punishment hast to be “humane” there have been execution methods consisting of hanging, electrocution, gas chambers, firing squad, lethal injection, and what not. Now we’re well aware that the gas chambers were used by the Nazis to kill Jews in their concentration camps. Still, when you see some of these methods on TV or movies, they don’t seem anywhere near humane. I mean does being shot by firing squad seem like a quick and painless way to die? Not how I see it. Or what about having a ton of volts pumped into your head? Me neither. Or what about being injected with poison? Didn’t think so. Besides, it’s said that most lethal injections tend to be botched at a higher rate than most 19th century methods.

Another popular execution method in the US is the electric chair where a prisoner is strapped to a chair like this and is electrocuted. Let's just say if the electric chair doesn't seem humane on The Green Mile, then it's probably not in real life.

Another popular execution method in the US is the electric chair where a prisoner is strapped to a chair like this and is electrocuted. Let’s just say if the electric chair doesn’t seem humane on The Green Mile, then it’s probably not in real life.

23.  The death penalty expresses the absolute power of the state; abolition of this penalty is a much-needed limit on governmental power. Governments may not be perfect and the criminal justice system may make mistakes as well as commit their share of injustices. In some ways giving governments the power to kill somebody is too much. And it doesn’t help that many governments have and still do abuse this. Many of these governments are dictatorships that have executed people for dissent and who knows what else. But not even liberal democracies are exempt from this either. The US criminal justice system struggles with issues pertaining to incompetence, perjury, police brutality, and wrongful convictions. Do you want a government like that to decide whether a person lives or dies? The US constitution doesn’t forbid the death penalty nor does it mandate its use either. Congress is free to abolish it at the federal level and so would the states.

Although most Americans still support the death penalty, support has considerably declined in recent years while opposition has grown. At the government level, more states have voted to abolish it due to costs. Not only that, but most violent criminals are usually sentenced to life in prison anyway.

Although most Americans still support the death penalty, support has considerably declined in recent years while opposition has grown. At the government level, more states have voted to abolish it due to costs. Not only that, but most violent criminals are usually sentenced to life in prison anyway.

24. The death penalty has recently fallen out of favor, even in the United States. For a long time in history, the capital punishment was usually the only punishment for violent crimes. But as our societies evolved and realized that we could just imprison violent criminals instead of killing them, the death penalty has been applied less and less (except in dictatorships). Not only that, but as many as 139 countries have abolished it throughout the world. In the US, a death penalty case happens so seldom that one is bound to grab headlines, which adds to many violent criminals gaining undeserved publicity. Not to mention, while most Americans still support capital punishment, opposition has increased and as of 2015, 18 states have now abolished it. 6 of them have abolished it within the last decade. Out of the states that do, some haven’t had anybody executed in years. Hell, I can’t remember the last time Pennsylvania had anyone executed. Besides, most death row inmates usually die of natural causes before their execution date.

25. The severity of the crime plays no role in determining whether a defendant gets executed. Many supporters argue that the death penalty is supposed to be only applied to the worst crimes and the most vile offenders. However, most death sentences are determined on location, politics, socioeconomics, race, jury make up, quality of legal counsel, and whether or not the prosecutor decides to pursue it. Yes, I’m aware that death row inmates are generally not nice people. However, we should be aware that some of the most heinous murders don’t result in death sentences while some less heinous crimes are punished by death with co-defendants charged with the same and consistently receiving disparate sentences. Some of the worst of the worst like serial killers, gang kingpins and the like, are often spared the death penalty since prosecutors rely on their cooperation to help law enforcement close related cases. Nevertheless, such structures and biases in our society can make it impossible to limit the death penalty to some of the most heinous crimes by the most hardened criminals.

Yes, it's long past due to end the death penalty. And I have to agree that capital punishment doesn't help crime, doesn't prevent prison overcrowding, is expensive, and can never be humane. Let's just say the United States would be better off if we got rid of it. And no, I don't give a shit about what the people in Texas think about it.

Yes, it’s long past due to end the death penalty. And I have to agree that capital punishment doesn’t help crime, doesn’t prevent prison overcrowding, is expensive, and can never be humane. Let’s just say the United States would be better off if we got rid of it. And no, I don’t give a shit about what the people in Texas think about it.

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