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First of all, it is hard for anyone to argue that we already use the death penalty too much because facts say that we hardly use it at all. Since 1967, there have been one execution for every 1,600 murders. There have been approximately 560,000 murders and 358 executions between 1967 and 1996(UCR and BJS).
Opponents of the death penalty compare execution and murder. They make the claim that if two acts have the same ending or result, then those two acts are morally equivalent. If we used this same perspective for other crimes, then our whole system would not work. For example, is the legal taking of property to satisfy a debt the same as auto theft? They both result in the loss of property. Is kidnapping and legal incarceration the same? They both involve imprisonment against one’s will. Obviously, these opponents have a flawed logic and therefore, if two acts end in the same result, they are not necessarily morally equivalent.
Great effort has been made in our criminal justice system in pretrial, trial, appeals, writ and clemency procedures to minimize the chance of and innocent person being convicted and sentenced to death. Since 1973, legal protections have been so great that 37 percent of all death row cases have been overturned for due process reasons or commuted. Inmates are six times more likely to get off death row by appeals than by execution.
The argument that murderer’s are the least likely of all criminals to repeat their crime is not only irrelevant, but also increasingly false. Six percent of young adults paroled in 1978 after having been convicted of murder were arrested for murder again within six years of release (“Recidivism of Young Parolees”).
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