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Facts about the Death Penalty

If you are poor or happen to commit your crime in certain counties of certain states, your chances of getting the death penalty are much higher than if you are rich or live elsewhere.

If you murder a white person in America, you are much more likely to get the death penalty than if you "just" murder an African-American.  81% of capital cases involve white victims, though only 50% of murder victims are white. This is racism.

The ultimate injustice is seen when the state kills innocent people. Since 1999, 24 persons sentenced to die by a supposedly fair justice system were freed based on later DNA evidence.  How many innocent persons were put to death before DNA testing?  In July 2001 Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said, "If statistics are any indication, the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed."

The most comprehensive study in the country found that the death penalty costs $2.16 million per execution over the costs of a non-death penalty murder case with a sentence of imprisonment for life (Duke University, May 1993.) On a national basis, these figures translate to an extra cost of over $1 billion dollars spent since 1976 on the death penalty. The study, "The Costs of Processing Murder Cases in North Carolina," is available online at www-pps.aas.duke.edu/people/faculty/cook/comnc.pdf .

In Texas, a death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years (Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992).

States without the death penalty have lower homicide rates than those with it.

Many more non-partisan facts on the death penalty are available at: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org//getcat.php?cid=4  and  http://web.amnesty.org/pages/deathpenalty_index_eng

There are many reasons to oppose the death penalty . . .

  • It is ineffective as a deterrent to crime.
  • It does not provide psychological "closure" for victims.
  • It reinforces the idea that violence and killing are the solutions to social ills.
  • It is more expensive than a life prison sentence.
  • There is ALWAYS the risk of executing an innocent person.  (Since 1973 in the U.S., 117 persons sentenced to die by a supposedly fair justice system were fully exonerated based on late evidence, such as DNA.)
  • It is not administered equitably in the U.S. If you murder a white person, are poor, or happen to commit your crime in certain counties of certain states, you are much more likely to get the death penalty than otherwise.
  • All western industrialized countries except the U.S. have abolished the death penalty as ineffective and inhumane.
  • While religious arguments and the Bible are used by both sides, MOST RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS in the U.S. find capital punishment inhumane and unjustified, including:
    American Baptist Churches, Episcopal Church, Lutheran Church (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), Roman Catholic Church, Mennonite Churches, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ.