According to a story in USA Today, there is increasing evidence that America could eventually do away with the death penalty.
Death sentences and executions have declined, and just this week, Connecticut became the 17th state to abolish the death penalty.
Should we do the same in Florida?
Condemned inmates will spend an average of 12.9 years on death row in the state before execution, and its not unusual to see somebody on death row up to 20 years or even longer. And that's just the time on death row - the time that has passed since the conviction. Prior to being convicted, people charged with capital crimes - which are primarily first-degree murder (premeditated) or first-degree felony murder (murder committed during the course of a felony) - often sit in jail for years pending trial. So an accused person may sit in jail for 3 years pending trial, get convicted at trial, then sit on death row for another 20 years until they are executed.
An argument can be made that the person who committed the crime is not the same person who will be executed.
Since executions resumed nationally in 1979, a nation-high 23 innocent people on Florida’s death row have been exonerated. Another reason to at least have a lengthy moratorium on the death penalty.
The death penalty serves many idealogical purposes. Since our laws are based on Judeo-Christian ethics, it can be said that our system believes in "an eye for an eye." However, a more reasonable and more important facet of capital punishment (or punishment in general) is and should be the removal of dangerous people from our society.
Can't that same goal be accomplished by sentencing a convicted murderer to life in prison without parole?
Death penalty proponents state that the death penalty deters others from committing violent crimes. If that were the case then we would see record dips in crime rates. Truth is, crime rates have fallen nationally over time, but that is due in part to the imposition of lengthier prison sentences for repeat offenders. There is no direct evidence proving that the death penalty has caused murder rates to fall.
The chance that one innocent person could be executed should be enough to put a stop to the death penalty. It is expensive (years and years of appeals cost taxpayers millions), it does nothing to deter crime, and it doesn't adequately punish the offender (letting them live for 20 years on the taxpayer's dime before executing them?).
Life in prison is cheaper and more humane. And above all - it removes dangerous individuals from society.