In the current political hotbed of the United States, capital punishment is brushed aside by the highly publicized issues of immigration and healthcare. However, despite the lack of recent media attention, the death penalty is as alive and real as ever. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, nine executions remain scheduled for the year of 2017. In other words, nine lives will be damned to the eternal punishment of death. This begs the question: Do the numbers support the death penalty? This question delves into the economic, moral, and democratic benefits derived from capital punishment.

Public support

According to a recent poll conducted by Oxford University's Professor Mark Ramirez, "A majority of Americans support punitive criminal justice policies." Although this may sound disheartening for opponents of the death penalty, Ramirez concluded that America's leadership is currently poised to ban capital punishment. However, America is currently more interested in the economy, healthcare, and immigration; hence any anti-death penalty discussion within Congress is highly unlikely.

Monetary cost

The Office of Performance Evaluations within the Idaho Legislature reports that, “capital cases take longer to complete compared with noncapital cases…” They go on to say, “We found that for those who went to trial, reaching a judgment of guilty or not guilty took 7 months longer for capital cases than for noncapital cases." This increased trial time incurs serious costs to the state and to the taxpayer.

The study “estimated the lifetime cost of capital-prosecuted cases (between 1977 and 2000) to be $186 million.” in the state of Idaho. Another study by the Death Penalty Information Center estimated that California has spent “$1.94 billion (in) Pre-Trial and Trial Costs” alone. Opponents of the death penalty will claim that this money is the taxpayers’ money and instead of erecting schools, building roads, or funding local services, this money is dedicated to ending lives.

Risk factor

According to Scientific American, “a team of researchers has concluded that about 4.1 percent of criminal defendants who are sentenced to death are falsely convicted.” Some, however, argue that this rate may in fact be higher due to a lack of investigative interest and finances once an execution is conducted. Is it moral to allow even one innocent person to die at the hands of America’s justice system?