Death Penalty: Bad?

Is it right to kill a killer? Or, what if you kill an innocent man? With this possibility, is it worth the risk to keep the death penalty? No matter what, the convicted party will be punished, but is it easier to to pardon an innocent man from jail than to bring one back after his execution? Death Penalty allows room for error, the chance of an innocent man being killed. It also consumes mass amounts of money, more than it would to hold someone on a LWP charge (Life without parole). In fact, the New York Times said: “Perhaps the most extreme example is California, whose death row costs taxpayers $114 million a year beyond the cost of imprisoning convicts for life. The state has executed 13 people since 1976 for a total of about $250 million per execution”.

The final reason death penalty should be abolished is: By killing a killer, are we any better then him? And, aren’t we supposed to be setting a good image and influence? There have been over 1,000 human lives taken by the courts since 1976. Maybe some deserved their fates, and certainly some didn’t. Among these there are quite a few who stand out, people whose lives may have been cut short due to biased police officers or flawed investigations. One of the most known of these cases is Carlos De Luna, charged with the murder of a Texas women (Wendy Lopez) in 1983, and executed in 1989 at the age of 27. Lopez was stabbed repeatedly while on the night shift in a gas station, but before the died she made two 911 calls, and the police did not react until after her second call, while she was being stabbed.

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After the police reached the scene, they found De Luna hiding under a nearby pickup. The police assumed he was running from the murder, but in fact De Luna had violated his parole by drinking. During his interrogation, De Luna proclaimed he was innocent, but saw a man in the store. Police ignored him and the fact that there was no blood on him, even tough the crime scene was covered in blood. Some may say De Luna changed his cloths, but the police found him too soon after the murder for him to have gotten rid and round new clothes.

The police then had the only witness, Kevan Baker, identify De Luna as the killer. This also is a fact used in the defense that De Luna was guilty ,But, Baker only identified De Luna after the police told Baker that they were sure De Luna did it. Baker later said he wasn’t sure if De Luna was the man he saw, but the police made him believe that they had hard evidence De Luna, when in fact they did not. Baker also said the man was dressed like a “hobo”, had a mustache, and wore a plaid shirt. But De Luna had no facial hair and was found in a white shirt. At De Luna’s trail he named a man, Carlos Hernandez, as the man he saw in the gas station where the murder occurred.

Hernandez had been known to dress like a “hobo”, have a mustache, and carry a knife similar to the one found at the crime scene. Again, the police ignored him. On the same night of the murder, the police allowed to store owner to wash down the store, and only collected a few photos, finger prints, and the knife. None of the finger prints were De Luna’s. The police also recovered (1) a shoe heel print framed in blood (the victim was barefoot when she was killed; De Luna’s shoes had no blood on them); (2) a partially smoked cigarette butt near the location of the stabbing (the assailant brought a Winston cigarette pack to the counter before attacking the victim; Winston was Hernandez’s brand); (3) a dark red button (Baker told police the killer was wearing a red flannel shirt; according to friends, Hernandez’s “winter uniform” was a red flannel shirt); and (4) the murder weapon, an 8-inch buck knife smeared with blood. The police also argued that the murder occurred during a robbery, which would make sense.

But, there was no money missing from the scene, thus making the murder not a robbery. During the trail, the police used 3 key points. The first was the 911 call, which incensed the jury, but provided no evidence save for the fact the murder was Hispanic. Second was Kevan Baker’s statement, but the police only showed him De Luna’s photo, not a standard mugshot. Even so, De Luna and Hernandez looked alike (minus the facial hair) and were the same height and weight. Also, one of the prosecutors admitted that he had a personal relationship with Hernandez.

Hernandez also had a record for similar crimes and was reported to tell police informants that he killed Wendy Lopez. Despite all the evidence support that De Luna was innocent, he was executed in 1989. 17 year old Ruben Cantu was executed after being charged with the murder of a store owner. There was no physical evidence agianst Cantu. It is theorized that the police only suspect him because he had wounded an off-duty policeman after a bar fight.And the lone eyewitness, whom stated it was Cantu, has now taken back his statement.

He says that at the time he was an illegal immigrant, so he didn’t want to be deported, and was pressured by the police. Sadly, Cantu was executed even with the lack of solid evidence. These are two of many people that were suspected to be executed when in fact they were innocent. These facts present a strong argument as to why we should abolish the death penalty. The second reason death penalty is unnecessary is the prices. It costs ,on average, one inmate an extra $90,000 per year if they are on death row.

And this isn’t account the grueling trials that can drag on for years (on average 15-20 years. If California were to remove the death penalty, they would get over $10,000,000 extra dollars a year. As quoted earlier: “Perhaps the most extreme example is California, whose death row costs taxpayers $114 million a year beyond the cost of imprisoning convicts for life. The state has executed 13 people since 1976 for a total of about $250 million per execution”. Again, strong evidence promoting the end of death row.

My final reason supporting the end of the death penalty is: Is it right to kill a killer? And, we should be setting an example to our children and other countries. The death penalty is using extensive amounts of force, and there are no re-dos. And why not have the person sit in jail for the rest of their life, constantly reminded of why they are in jail?