Roosevelt Collins, a black man in Alabama, was convicted of rape, sentenced to death, and executed in 1937. Roosevelt testified that the “victim” who was white had consented to sex, which caused a near-riot in the courtroom. The all-white jury deliberated for only FOUR minutes. Later interviews with several jurors revealed that although they believed the act was consensual, they also thought that he deserved death simply for “messin’ around” with a white woman. Even the judge, off the record, admitted his belief that Roosevelt was telling the truth, QUOTE: “An innocent man went to his death.”
Horace Dunkins was executed on July 17, 1989. His attorney never told the jury he was mentally retarded, with an IQ estimated at 65. When newspapers reported this several years later, one juror told the press she would not have voted for the death penalty had she known of his retardation. The accomplice to this crime was given a life sentence.
Everyone has their own opinion of the Death Penalty. The problem is, most United States citizens do not have the facts. As long as the death penalty is a form of punishment, we all should be aware of this information…the correct information, and not just what crime the “Dead Man Walking” committed.
Myself, Chandra, Steve, and Geoff have done extensive research on the subject of corporal punishment and will discuss those findings with you today.
The Death Penalty is a costly, immoral, and imperfect form of punishment. Before Americans chant “Death” for a moral wrong, we should make sure that we are right.
Today we will discuss some of the problems with the death penalty, solutions and alternatives to it, and even give you a glimpse into how our future America will be if we continue this immoral deterrent. Chandra will share with us three of the major problems with the death penalty. Steve will discuss some solutions and alternatives to corporal punishment. Finally, Geoff will give us some insight how the death penalty has failed as a deterrent and will continue to poison our lives in the future and what we can do to change things.
Transition: Chandra will begin by explaining three major concerns with the death penalty.
First Main Point (Need-Problem): The Death Penalty has three major problems: the cost, immoral issues, and erroneous executions.
Supporting Point: The death penalty is a very costly form of punishment.
- Data: According to Dave Erickson’s study, “Cost of the Death Penalty,” on Los Angeles County found at Deathpenalty.org, it would cost nearly $2 million to try a case that carries the death penalty sentencing versus the $1 million for a regular trial.
- Data: When an execution is, in fact, carried out it will cost an additional 2.5 to 3 million dollars per execution.
- Data: There are currently 3,061 inmates waiting to be executed, which will cost approximately $9.1 billion while giving them life imprisonment without the possibility of parole would cost $3 billion.
Supporting Point: The death penalty brings with it many issues of morality.
i.Data: As it is put on the homepage of nodeathpenalty.org in an article entitled “Campaign to end the Death Penalty,” it is cruel and unusual punishment to put someone to death.
Supporting Point: Innocent people are getting lost in the turmoil.
- Data: Also on the deathpenalty.org website in a page entitled, “Death Penalty Focus,” it states that 23 innocent people have been unjustly put to death for crimes they did not commit.
- Data: On the sociology website of NI University, it is stated that a man named Sie Dawson was put to death and then later discovered to be innocent.
Transition: Chandra has just described a few of the major problems with the Death Penalty including the inexcusable wrongful executions that have and will take place. In fact, just this Sunday night on the news show Dateline on NBC, they did a report on the release of a death row inmate. This is the 76th since the death penalty was reinstated and everyday there is new information on DNA of a convicted murder who may be found innocent of his or her crime. One word for that is INEXCUSABLE! Now we will hear from Steve some possible solutions to these problems.
Second Main Point (Solution-Satisfaction): A change in the “life” laws and the economic situation will provides us with solutions to these problems.
Supporting Point: There are two alternatives to the death penalty.
- Data: The obvious alternative to capital punishment is life without parole. According to the homepage of Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, it is more expensive to execute someone that to keep them in prison for life.
- Data: The page also states, “To suggest that the death penalty is a deterrent to violent criminals and is a vehicle to somehow grant relief to the suffering of the victims families is to deceive the constituents they serve. This is another par of the problem that needs to be solved. We need to change the legislation to abolish capital punishment.
Supporting Point: We need reconstruction of the prison system.
- Data: Persons convicted of capital punishment should serve a minimum of 25 years in prison before the possibility of consideration of parole. Parole boards must abide by strict but fair standards in deciding who should receive parole. The abolition of parole endangers prison workers.
Supporting Point: The economic factor of the solution can be solved fairly easily.
- Data: While in prison, prisoners should work in jobs which are not slave-like and allow for some dignity and purpose of life for the inmate. Such work situations create safer conditions for guards and others who work in prisons.
- Data: A portion of the prisoners’ earnings should go towards paying for their incarceration, and a portion should go into a fund for the victims of violent crime and their survivors. This would allow for a restitution fund for social, psychological, and religious help for victims and survivor families. Such funds could also provide financial help for families which have lost a wage earner to murder.
Transition: Thank you Steve for offering some solutions and alternatives to the death penalty. However, the only way for things to change is for us all to learn the facts and statistics of the death penalty as a deterrent. So now, Geoff is going to give us some insight into our future with the death penalty based on past and present statistics and what we all can do to start this process.
- Third Main Point (Visualization-Action): There are other ways to deter violent crime and by looking at past statistics it is not shown to be a deterrent to crimes. There are also ways we can help put a stop to this.
Supporting Point: There are other ways to deter violent crimes.
- Data: A 1995 Hart Research Associates Poll of Police Chiefs in the U.S. Indicated that 67% of them do not believe the Death Penalty significantly reduces the number of homicides. In fact the Death Penalty was rated last in effective was of reducing violent crime. (Death Penalty Information Center website)
- Data: A survey of experts from the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the Law and Society Association showed that the overwhelming majority did not believe that the death penalty is a proven deterrent to homicide.
Supporting Point: The Death Penalty is not a deterrent.
- Data: Supporting Point: From 1976 until 1995 there were 313 executions carried out in the United states while the National Murder Rate was an average of 8.88.
- Data: In a comparison done in 1997, of murder rates between states with the Death Penalty and states with out the states that have the Death Penalty have a murder rate per 100,000 almost double that of the states that do not have the Death Penalty. (See Graph) (Death Penalty Information website)
- Data: A few key years to point out. (Death Penalty Information Center website)
Supporting Point: What we can do to stop the Death Penalty.
- Data: There are many organizations out there trying to abolish the Death Penalty.
- Data: Professor William A. Schabas wrote a book entitled “The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law,” which is available at most bookstores.
- Data: You can also write to your congressperson. There are a few bills trying to go through congress to abolish the Death Penalty. US Senator Russ Feingold introduced a bill to the Senate on November 11, 1999, calling for the abolition of the Death Penalty in the US.
Transition: We have now discussed the problems and alternatives to the death and as Geoff has just showed us there are things each of us can do to help change the law that hasn’t done what it was intended to do.
- Today we have shown you that the Death Penalty is a costly, immoral, and imperfect form of punishment.
- Specifically, we discussed some of the major problems with the death penalty, solutions and alternatives to it, and gave you a glimpse into what it has done for us thus far and for our future.
- We leave you with this…According to a webpage from ACLU Marquis de Lafayette, speaking to the French Chamber of Deputies in 1830, years after having witnessed the executions of the French Revolution said this… “I shall ask for the abolition of the punishment of death until I have the infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me.” I couldn’t have said it better than that.
- Alternatives to the Death Penalty. [Online}. www.cuadp.org/altern.htm. (1998).
- Amnesty International USA. [Online]. Amnesty International Inc. www.amnesty-usa.org/abolish/index.html. (1999, November 23).
- Appeals Unlimited. [Online]. Appeals Unlimited/AUSoft. www.appeals.com/ deathpenalty.html.
- Campaign to End the Death Penalty. [Online]. www.nodeathpenalty.org/fivereasons.html. (1999, October 1).
- Economics of Capital Punishment, The. [Online]. www.mindspring.com/~ phporter/econ.html. (1999).
- Death Penalty Focus. (1999, April 24). Cost of the Death Penalty and Myths and Facts. [Online]. www.deathpenalty.org. (version on November 18, 1999).
- Illinois Wrongful Capital Murder Convictions. [Online]. www.sun.soci.niu.edu/~critcrim/wrong/illmurder.html. (1999, February).