The Death Penalty Essay

The Death Penalty Essay

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On different coasts, in states over 2000 miles away, California and Virginia are both under scrutiny for their usage of the death penalty. What is even more telling of the American death penalty however, are the vastly different reasons why these states have caught people’s attention. One state has 743 inmates on death row and the other has 8 inmates on death row. One state has executed 13 people since 1976 and the other has executed 111 inmates in the same time frame. Can a judicial system allow for such discrepancies in the American system of punishment and sentencing? The lack of executions, the long waiting time on death row, and the extremely high costs of the death penalty in California strongly contrast with the high amount of executions, the short time from sentencing to execution, and relatively low cost found in Virginia and after considering all of these inconsistencies it is hard to believe that the American government can permit these practices to continue.
Before exploring the differences between the Old Dominion and the Golden State, it is worth discussing the similarities they share. Besides both having the death penalty, the murder rate per 100,000 is 4.4 in both states(). Both state laws allow life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty, and in both states very few people have been freed from death row, 1 in Virginia and 3 in California. In California and Virginia, compensation for public defenders is set by judges, and local District Attorneys in both states decide whether to seek death or not. In recent years, both states have instated a law to ensure lawyers are qualified to handle death penalty cases in order to try to even the playing field nationally and ensure equal representation and sent...


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... while the death penalty make my sense in theory, the way that the United States is using it is not fair. It should not be legal that if you commit a murder in one state that you can be sentenced to death and never be executed then cross over a couple of state lines, commit the same crime, and this death sentence would result in an execution (potentially by electric chair) within a couple of years. Neither system should be legal because of the fact they differ by so much on many indicators from national averages. If the death penalty is allowed in the United States it needs to be reasonably similar, and executed in similar ways. This paper just begins to investigate the dramatically different usage of the death penalty in these states, as research on capital crimes and the death penalty begins especially in states such as Virginia, there is no doubt more will arise.

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