Critical analysis of the death penalty

by Jordan Meadows-

Four people on death row have been executed in the United States in 2023. The executions took place in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and two in Texas. 

In 2021, Virginia became the 23rd state – and first southern state – to ban the death penalty. Virginia has carried out almost 1400 executions since its inception, more than any other state in history. 

A state senator in Virginia, Bill Desteph (R-VA Beach), has proposed legislation that would restore capital punishment. The legislation states that the death penalty could be used when there is “the willful, deliberate and premeditated killing of a law enforcement officer when such killing is for the purpose of interfering with the performance of his official duties.” 

The bill is likely to fail in committee as Democrats hold a majority in the state senate. 

One in eight people on death row is eventually exonerated at the federal level. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, in the last 50 years, almost 200 people have been exonerated. In most of these cases, wrongful convictions arose from erroneous eyewitness identifications, false and coerced confessions, inadequate legal defense and more. 

In 2018, 79% of all homicide exonerations were due to misconduct on the part of the police or the prosecution – or both. That number grows to 87% for Black exonerees. Black Americans account for 41% of people on death row and 34% of those executed. 

There has been a multitude of instances where individuals with mental disabilities and children have been executed – ultimately banned by the Supreme Court in 2002 and 2005, respectively. 

Capital punishment costs taxpayers more than if they had non-capital punishment. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2020, the average time between someone being sentenced and executed was 18.9 years. During this time, the government is required to provide resources and funding for people on death row, such as the attorney

23 people are scheduled to be executed in five different states this year. One state, Ohio, has scheduled inmates to be executed in 2026. President Joe Biden is the first president to publicly oppose the death penalty but has taken no major steps to that end. 

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