Much of the remaining support for the death penalty is based on faulty information. Here are 5 of the top facts surrounding this costly, failed system.
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FACT 1 - The death penalty does not save money

At every stage of legal proceedings, a death penalty case is vastly more expensive to prosecute than a standard murder case. Death penalty trials are actually two trials – one to determine whether the person is guilty of capital murder, and the second to determine whether the sentence of death is appropriate for the defendant and the crime.

Death Penalty postconviction proceedings take years. All states have an avenue for appointment of counsel. Death penalty counsel – both prosecution and defense – is payed for by the taxpayers.

Death Penalty trials are not always fair and many cases are overturned. Between 1973 and 2013, one-third of those sentenced to death had their sentences overturned on appeal. Death Penalty cases consume vast amounts of county resources – court and judicial resources, law enforcement resources, experts for the prosecution and defense.

Source: Death Penalty Information Center
artwork by death row inmate, Kevin Cooper. On Facebook: @FreeKevinCooper.
Here, artwork by death row inmate, Kevin Cooper. On Facebook: @FreeKevinCooper​
FACT 2 - The death penalty is racially biased

The death penalty is the pinnacle of racism. The death penalty is the pinnacle of racism. The death penalty is so infected with racism and bias that a fair trial is not possible.

“Since its inception, the American death penalty has been disproportionately applied, first, to enslaved Africans and African Americans, and, later to free Black people,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said. (Read more). The death penalty is said to be lynching’s step-child.

Fact 3 - Innocents Are Not Exempt

We know that more than 170 individuals have been released from death row for crimes they didn’t commit. They and their lost years are collateral damage of the capital punishment system in this country.

It is clearly demonstrated that the death penalty prosecutions have targeted those of color, those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and those with mental illness or disabilities. Unable to afford quality legal representation, and unfamiliar with the justice system, our friends are often appointed unqualified and ineffective counsel.

Here is the true story of Kevin Cooper, death row inmate, San Quentin Prison.

artwork by death row inmate, Kevin Cooper.
Here, artwork by death row inmate, Kevin Cooper. On Facebook: @FreeKevinCooper​
Bill Pelke (1947-2020) “The answer is love and compassion for all.”
Fact 4 - The Death Penalty Does Not Provide Closure

Murder victims’ families do not speak with one voice on closure. The government doesn’t speak for victims’s families either. William Barr, U.S. Attorney General said of the July 14, 2020 execution of Daniel Lee Lewis, “we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

The family of Nancy Mueller and her daughter Sarah Powell, both killed by in 1996 Daniel Lee Lewis, strongly opposed the execution of Lewis. Mrs. Earlene Peterson, the mother and grandmother of the victims, pleaded with President Trump for clemency.  They filed papers in court to stop the execution. William Barr called their objections to Lewis’s execution “frivolous”. Read their story here.

Another victims’ family member story is here. Watch here.

Fact 5 - The death penalty does not make communities safer.

Studies show that those who commit violent crimes (like murder) do not think about the potential consequences when acting. Further, states with the highest rates of executions also tend to have the highest rates of murder and violent crime. Conservative groups argue that tegions of the country with the most executions continue to have the highest rates of violent crime (the South). While, regions with few executions or that have repealed the death penalty have very low violent crime (the Northeast). In 2016 the murder rate in non-death penalty states was 4.49 compared to a murder rate of 5.63 in states with the death penalty. That’s a 25 percent difference. 

Law enforcement groups argue that the death penalty is necessary to protect the police.  This is clearly not true.

OfficerVictimStateChart - Death Penalty Information Center

Visit Webinar #2, available here, for a discussion about the safety and deterrent effects of the Death penalty with San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Denver District Attorney Beth McCann. 

For more statistics, read here.