The cost of the death penalty is both dollars and sense

by Maayan Schechter – Editor Campus Voice – mschecht@unca.edu

North Carolina Legislature, stop making excuses and abolish the death penalty.

An archaic practice, the death penalty is not a deterrent to getting rid of murders or crime. Still today, DNA, fingerprint analysis technology and tampered witness accounts are used to show inmates on death row did not commit heinous crimes. More than 140 people since 1973 were released from death row in 26 states due to innocence according to the American Civil Liberties Union, a human rights organization.

North Carolina executed more than 40 inmates after 1976, a significant decrease from 784 executions, which took place prior to 1976.

The current death row population remains at 163, including four women. In total, the South executes more people than any other region, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

In a 2011 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 62 percent favor the death penalty and 31 percent oppose it. Of the majority who support the penalty, many gave the same answer why: the defendant deserves it for taking a life.

As a taxpayer, you are wasting your money. Killing someone costs more than housing him or her in a prison for their rest of their life.  The death penalty costs N.C. almost $11 million a year. The majority of the cost is allocated to defense and trial costs, while the rest of the money is allocated to juror, post-conviction costs and re-sentencing hearings.

The lowest amount of money is allocated to the prison system. The cheapest part of the death penalty is the actual killing of the human being.

Lethal injections in N.C. only cost about $500. Medicine and syringes cost roughly $168 and the is paid $340 for working two to four hours, according to the N.C. Department of Correction.

Imprisoning an inmate for life can save states millions of dollars.

The money may hurt your wallets, but the fact that still today innocent people may be executed for crimes he or she did not commit is a scarier issue. Since 1973, 140 death row inmates in the U.S. were exonerated. Of those exonerees, 62 percent are non-white.

Many inmates on death row never graduated from high school and come from poorer socioeconomic areas of the U.S.

Many inmates are unable to hire a superpower defense team, like that of O.J. Simpson. The majority are stuck with public defenders, who work very hard, but due to budget cuts and time constraints are dealing with a variety of cases. In N.C., at least 16 death row inmates were represented by lawyers who were later disciplined or disbarred for unethical or criminal conduct according to an article in the Charlotte Observer. Three of those inmates were executed.

Although slowly changing, non-whites have a harder time getting off of a death penalty sentence. The justice system cannot hide the fact that in prior death penalty trials, racial bias has shown its face when a non-white defendant murders a white person or if white people make up the entire jury.

The only avenue that parallels closest with getting rid of the death penalty is that of N.C.’s controversial Racial Justice Act. The act allows future defendants whom the state is seeking death against to suggest race played a crucial part in their sentencing. Many of N.C.’s death row inmates filed claims under this act.

North Carolina Legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory need to be proactive. Nationally and locally, we know the problems with the death penalty: prosecutors seeking convictions over truth, faulty jailhouse informants, uninformed jurors, false confessions and overworked public defenders.

An eye for an eye never should be the end-all answer to a nationwide problem.

Sign the petition to protect the Racial Justice Act at http://bit.ly/maintainRJA

 

 

 

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