Should the death penalty still be used in the United States criminal justice system?
What is the specific problem?
The death penalty proposes many problems, number one being that it costs millions of
dollars compared to that of a sentence of life without parole. According to Equal Justice
USA, (2016), for the past 40 years the death penalty has been manipulated in attempts to
perfect the system, but to no avail it is still a corrupt system. This is just one of many issues
the use of the death penalty faces.
What is the evidence of the problem?
The evidence of the problem is that it is proven that the cost of an execution versus the
costs of life without parole is a huge difference. The cost of killing someone by death
penalty is significantly more than that of sentencing someone to life without parole. Cases
without the death penalty cost $740,000, while cases where the death penalty is sought cost
$1.26 million. Maintaining each death row prisoner costs taxpayers $90,000 more per year
than a prisoner in general population. There are 714 inmates on California’s death row,
according to Alarcon, A, and Mitchell, P., (2011), if the convicted criminals on death row in
the United States were converted to life without parole, it would save over an astonishing
$170 million dollars per year and over the next 20 years a savings of over $5 billion dollars.
This is just in the state of California alone. The other problem is that they spend millions of
dollars on convicted felons who are sentenced to death and then later they are found to be
innocent after they are already incurring costs on death row. Evidence is later found on many
of these convicted criminals, which proves their innocence. Some have been in prison for 30
years to later be found innocent.
What do you suspect is causing the problem?
What I suspect is the major problem with this system is sometimes the justice system
works by stereotypes in categorizing their criminals, now allowing evidence later found
proving the innocence of the convicted, not allowing a fifty-fifty spread of jurors to
participate as jury members instead of only allowing people to become jurors who only
believe in the death penalty. Corrupt attorneys who fall asleep during trials, arrive to a trial
noticeably intoxicated as well as convicted criminals who do not have the money to afford
the proper representation.
Is the research question clearly expressed without being too general or too narrow?
I believe that my research question is conveyed appropriately. I don’t think it is too
general because there are a lot of other subjects to discuss within this general area of
research, however, I choose to keep it in this area due to there being so many things wrong
with the costs and what each county pays in taxes as a result. I believe that a lot of people are
unaware of what the costs of the death penalty truly are, instead, they see it as justice for
themselves in the place of their loss.
Does the question relate to the identified problem?
The question I am looking for answers to relates to the problem at hand completely. I
would l like to know who honestly wants someone to die a quick death than suffer in a place
like prison for the rest of their lives? No matter what they do in prison, they will never get
out. Not by parole, not for good behavior, not for anything. They will have to live in a very
small shared space and never shower alone. Never get to eat what they want, never get to
wear what they want to, the only means of sex would be same sex and for some this is not an
option. They can never go to the mall, or to a grocery store and shop for what they want.
I have mentioned a lot of never will’s. Sure, they may qualify for educational programs, or
watch a little television or experience laughter every once in a while, but they will die there.
Is the research, based on the research question, feasible?
I believe the information in question is feasible because our country is in trillions of
dollars’ in debt and we need to figure out a way to get out of this debt, instead of constantly
adding to it. This would lead to a means for more research of the cost of more prisons to
house prisoners, is the cost of housing prisoners less than that of the cost of the death
penalty? Is the cost of keeping a prisoner in a prison less than that of the death penalty, yes
this has been proven in our research. How do we get better representation for convicted
felons on death row so that the innocent are not wrongfully accused of a crime they did not
Will the research, based on the research question, add to the body of knowledge in the
forensic psychology field?
The research based quest will add to the body of knowledge which already exists
because it is a well-known fact on many websites that the cost of the death penalty out-
weighs the costs of death row, but what are they doing to fix this problem. If congress says
there will be no more death penalty period in the United States, then that is how it will be.
There would be more criminals sentenced to life without parole.
Alarcon, A, and Mitchell, P., (2012), Death Penalty Information Center, retrieved November
19, 2016, from: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty
Equal Justice USA, (2016), The Death Penalty in The United States, retrieved November 19,