Capital Punishment is a topic that has been at the center of many controversies for a very long time. With many different viewpoints on its effectiveness and moral consequences, it’s difficult for people to reach a solid agreement.
In 2012, Proposition 34 was proposed in California. This proposition would have replaced the death penalty sentence with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole and require that people sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole to work in order to pay restitution to victims’ families. Prop 34 did not come to be as it was defeated 52% against to 48% in favor. This topic is debatable for many reasons, but a common one concerns the time that goes into implementing the death penalty;for example money that has to be paid to judges, lawyers, and many other people involved. That is money which could be used elsewhere in preventive ways.
The constitution requires for there to be a longer court process for people on death row to help ensure innocent people aren’t killed. Deathpenalty.org talks about some of the cost of the death penalty. Their research shows that only 13 criminals have been executed in California since 1978, but yet California has spent more than $4 billion on Capital Punishment over the past 35 years. That is an average of $308 million per death row inmate. It is estimated that a prisoner serving life without parole costs taxpayer an average of $50,000 per year. California would save $1 billion dollars within five years if they eliminated the death penalty in favor of life in prison.
With the economic recession the country is currently experiencing, and the major budget cuts towards schools and after school programs, $1 billion over five years could go a very long way. It could help stop the “School to Prison Pipeline”, a disturbing trend around the country regarding children being “funneled” from school to prison.Many of them have a learning disability or a history of poverty according to American Civil Liberties Union. These students could benefit tremendously from extra programs.
Delana Carter, a mother and an Oak Park resident, believes her son wasn’t able to get into the correct school programs because of different budget cuts.
“When he went to elementary school I remember he used to love the after school programs especially START,” says Carter. “But they cut off funding for it and he started looking for other things to do with his after school time.”
Carter acknowledges that everyone is responsible for their own actions, but feels like the school just wrote her son off.
“I know it isn’t their fault but they didn’t do anything to help him, to keep him out of gangs or to keep him in class instead of at home,” said Carter. “I remember there was a year when they didn’t have the budget for someone to watch the kids who had in-house suspension so they’d send them home.”
Carter’s fears that if her son one day loses his way, he could enter the same correctional system which rather spend money on the death penalty rather than educational opprotunites.