Death penalty is bad news

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Recently, Texas District Judge Suzanne Covington ruled that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice must inform the attorneys of two death row inmates of its new source of pentobarbital, the substance used for lethal injections. However, the Texas Supreme Court put Covington’s order on pause, stating that the issue must be studied further.

Texas was forced to find a new source of lethal injections after companies from foreign countries opposing the death penalty — which are nearly all of those in the developed world — refused to continue to sell the ingredients for this killer substance. While the rest of the world continues to move away from totalitarian forms of punishment, states like Texas continue to uphold them.

America, the “Land of the Free,” remains in fifth place for the most executions worldwide, behind China, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, if one were to only count Texas’s 16 executions last year, discounting the 23 others nationwide, America would only drop two slots on the international scale. This fact means there are only six countries reported in the world, besides the United States, that carry out more executions than Texas.

Therefore, the recent debates come to a bigger question. Does the fact that nearly every other developed nation in the world opposes the death penalty, and therefore refuses to sell us ingredients for our lethal injections, mean that perhaps we should move forward and follow the world’s example?

An argument cannot even be made that it is cheaper to simply kill someone than imprison them for life. According to Fox News, “a death-penalty trial costs $1 million more than one in which prosecutors seek life without parole.” According to the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, “the additional cost of confining an inmate to death row, as compared to the maximum security prisons … is $90,000 per year per inmate. With California’s current death row population of 670, that accounts for $63.3 million annually.” Therefore, Fox News is not exaggerating when it says, “Every time a killer is sentenced to die, a school closes.”

Because the death penalty increases state spending, is a blatant violator of the Eighth Amendment, and represents a totalitarian view that the rest of the developed world has already abandoned, why continue to support it? The buzz created by this case is not simply a question of whether a person has the right to know how the state is killing its citizens; it is a question of whether or not the state should have the right to do so at all.