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Death Penalty

Transparent Statement:
I am in favor of the death penalty, but recognize it is often biased in terms of race and income.

Criminals who have committed truly reprehensible crimes do not deserve a second chance. So in those instances, I do believe in the death penalty. But I admit that the manner in which the death penalty is applied is far from perfect.

Here are my primary concerns issues about the death penalty:

  • Potential Innocence
  • Racism
  • Poor Defendants
  • Cost
  • Painful Process

Potential Innocence — There is always the chance that an innocent person was convicted. That is an argument against the death penalty. For this reason, the death penalty should be reserved when guilt is not just beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond any doubt.

Racist — There is no doubt that more African Americans are sentenced to death than whites. This certainly seems inherently racist. As with any punishment, individual circumstances should be considered during sentencing. I am not sure whether the problem is too many African Americans are wrongly sentenced to death or if simply too many white criminals are wrongly NOT sentenced to death.

I cannot fix the system to ensure more white people are sentenced to death, so I would likely respond to this on a case-by-case basis to ensure the death penalty has been applied fairly and accurately. I am hesitant to take the prospect of the death penalty off the table as a potential punishment because I believe it can be both a crime deterrent and a useful negotiating tool for prosecutors.

Poor — Defendants with less resources to pay for expensive attorneys are more likely to be sentenced to death than wealthier defendants. All defendants are guaranteed the right to adequate counsel. Unfortunately, income also impacts whether they are found guilty in the first place. This is similar to the racist issue in that it is impossible to fix the system to ensure reach people are found guilty and sentenced to death. So again, I believe the solution is to evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Cost — The costs of the dealth penalty are based on the million-dollar legal fees during the trial (often paid by the State) and the long appeals process before such a punishment can be carried out. These costs make imposing the death penalty significantly more expensive than life in prison. To me, this is perhaps the strongest argument in favor of reserving the death penalty for those cases where it is truly appropriate. The State must weigh the deterrent aspect of the death penalty vs the cost to taxpayers.

Pain — It is quite possible that a criminal who is put to death will feel some pain. But if they are sentenced to the death penalty, it is undoubtedly because their victims felt an even more horrible pain. I could not care less.

Steve Rubenstein for Governor | Privacy Policy