1. INNOCENT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CONVICTED AND EXECUTED
Since 1976, over 1,400 executions occurred in the U.S., but 156 innocent people also were released from death row. That’s one exoneration for every ten executions. On average, these innocent people spent 11.3 years on death row before being exonerated.
Sometimes, exonerations come too late. In 2009, the Texas case of Cameron Willingham gained international attention when it was revealed that the arson for which he was convicted was not arson after all – Texas had executed an innocent man.
In 2014, South Carolina vacated the conviction of George Stinney, Jr, a 14 year old who was executed in 1929 and is noted as the youngest person executed in the U.S.
2. THE DEATH PENALTY IS UNFAIR AND ARBITRARY
Studies continually show race plays a major role in the application of the death penalty. Arkansas has executed 195 persons since beginning to keep records. Of those executed, 134 were black males. Additionally, those convicted of killing white victims are much more likely to receive the death penalty than those convicted of killing black victims.
In addition to being racially unfair, the death penalty targets lower-income offenders. The American Bar Association, a conservative group of nearly 400,000 lawyers, has called for a halt on executions, due in part to the failure to provide adequate counsel and resources to capital defendants. Almost all the people on death row were too poor to afford their own attorneys at trail. These low-income defendants were appointed lawyers, some of whom were overworked, underpaid, drunk, asleep or lacked the necessary experience to handle death penalty cases.
3. THE DEATH PENALTY IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
Arkansas has not yet studied the costs associated with the death penalty, but other states have found capital punishment to be a costly government program that diverts millions of dollars from programs and agencies that protect the public and save lives. The most rigorous cost study in the country found that a single death sentence in Maryland costs almost $2 million more than a similar non-death penalty case. And Maryland is not alone. Studies in more than a dozen states show that the death penalty can be up to six times more expensive than sentences of life without parole.
4. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT DOES NOT DETER CRIME
A New York Times survey found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in death penalty states was 48% to 100% higher than in non-death penalty states. A recent poll showed police chiefs rank the death penalty last as a way of reducing violent crime – behind curbing drug use, hiring more police officers, and reducing guns on the street. Eighty seven percent of criminology experts agree that the death penalty fails to deter crime.