Death penalty repeal worth revisiting

by Chloe O'Rourke, Contributor

More than half the world’s prison population is incarcerated in U.S. prisons — the highest rate in the developed world. Almost 3,000 of them languish on death row.

Capital punishment is an archaic method of punishment for an advanced and developed country. It is a punishment rooted in revenge, and has no place in civilized society.

Not only is the death penalty morally wrong, it also condemns innocent people.

A group called The Innocence Project works to exonerate innocent individuals nationwide who would otherwise not be able to have their cases heard. This group has exonerated 349 people, 157 from death row.

With a high likelihood of more innocent people on death row, this method of punishment needs to be abolished. This system is dated, puts innocent citizens in danger and condones violence.

Other than the moral consideration, there is also an economic cost. Keeping individuals in prison costs California taxpayers $71,000 per inmate, per year. That figure is for a prisoner who is not on death row. Someone waiting on death row costs $1.26 million per year on average.

An assessment done by Judge Arthur Alarcon and Professor Paula Mitchell through the Death Penalty Information Center showed that the death penalty has cost taxpayers in California upwards of $4 billion since 1978. If capital punishment were to be abolished, this study shows that those on death row could be re-sentenced to life without parole at an immediate savings of $170 million per year.

That money could be diverted to things such as rehabilitation programs within the prison system to ensure that these individuals do not end up in the same place once they are released.

California has almost double the amount of inmates on death row than any other state. Prop 62 — defeated in November — would have repealed the death penalty in California. It was defeated in a 53 to 46 percent vote.

The death penalty is immoral, costly, unfit for society and should not be passed on to future generations. Too many lives are ruined and lost through wrongful incarceration. Until another initiative makes the ballot, California will be left with a system that inevitably takes the lives of innocent citizens.

Chloe O’Rourke is a first-year journalism major with an emphasis in public relations minoring in English. Find her on Twitter @chloeeorourke and Instagram @chloe.orourke.

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