I have argued before in this blog that the death penalty should be abolished at all levels in the U.S. Capital punishment is now widely recognized as being inhumane and immoral. As of this year, more than 70 percent of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The United States is one of only five advanced democracies and the only Western nation that applies the death penalty regularly. Its use is also unquestionably racially biased—in the U.S., people of color are far more likely to be executed than white people, especially if the crime victim is white. Nor does it deter violent crime. The FBI has found the states with the death penalty have the highest murder rates.
It is also substantially more expensive than imprisonment. In Maryland, a comparison of capital trial expenses with and without the death penalty found that a death penalty case costs approximately 42 percent more than a case resulting in a non-death sentence. In 1988 and 1989, the Kansas legislature voted against reinstating the death penalty after it was informed that reintroduction would involve a first-year cost of more than $11 million. Florida, with one of the nation’s most populous death rows, has estimated that the true cost of each execution is around $3.2 million, or approximately six times the cost of a life-imprisonment sentence.
Despite all that data, President Donald Trump was determined to bring back the death penalty which had not been used by the federal government since 2003. He resumed executions in July 2020. By January 2021, he had overseen thirteen deaths. But when the Biden Administration was in power, executions were stopped. On July 1, 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that a moratorium on the Federal death penalty was being reinstated. We, as a nation, have returned to moral sanity.
It is long since time that Congress passed and President Biden signed into law a measure abolishing capital punishment. Let us join with the civilized nations of the world and stop killing people.