The Death Penalty 

It's Expensive.

There is a common misconception that it is more cost efficient to execute someone than to sentence them to life in prison without a chance of parole. In fact, the exact opposite is true. One article estimates that a single death penalty case in South Carolina, from beginning to end, costs taxpayers an average of $1.1 million more than life-without-parole sentence. According to Equal Justice USA, "The death penalty process is more complicated because a life is on the line. Capital cases involve more lawyers, more witnesses, more experts, a longer jury selection process, more pre-trial motions, an entirely separate trial for sentencing, and countless other expenses – racking up exorbitant costs before a single appeal is even filed." Sadly, we do not have official cost of each death row case in South Carolina. If we did, we would see that taxpayers (especially those in small counties) bare an extraordinary fiscal burden for a handful of individuals, many of whom become exonerated because of flawed court proceedings. How much more will this system cost our state? How much are we willing to sacrifice to take away a handful of lives? 

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It does not deter crime.

South Carolina has been using the death penalty since it was reinstated in 1985. When the death penalty was most active, our state did not see a decrease in crime. Meanwhile, a 2018 study found that nations that abolish the death penalty tend to see their murder rates decline. Twenty-three U.S. states across the country that have abolished the death penalty do not have higher murder rates than those that carry out executions. Furthermore, a survey of police chiefs from across the country ranked the death penalty at the bottom of a list of effective crime fighting tools. We must end the inhumane death penalty because it serves only to perpetuate violence and suffering. It is time to show what we have always known: there is no link between the death penalty and crime deterrence. The studies that claim to show a link between the two, which have been touted by some SC politicians, have long since been debunked. Will we follow the research, or stay beholden to outdated theories of criminal justice?

 It is unjust.

There are many flaws with the death penalty as a means of punishment. So far, almost 200 people have been exonerated from Death Row since the death penalty's reinstatement in 1976.  Only a deeply unjust system would routinely send innocent people to their deaths. Meanwhile, every exoneration means that the person who caused harm was not held accountable. This realization often causes tremendous pain to surviving family members, who must accept that the person who killed their loved one may never face consequences. This is reason enough to end the death penalty.

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