There is always the first and most asked question when it comes to the death penalty: why is there a death penalty, at all? This is a subject that anyone in a state with the death penalty has asked at one time or another. It’s still a touchy matter of debate in many bars and across many tables in America.
Indeed, centuries ago, almost every country and empire in the world had the death penalty available for some crimes. In some nations, the death penalty was often used and for offenses that would be considered trivial today. The death penalty has since been banned in most countries in the world and many states no longer practice it, either.
The main reasons why start with the cost of death penalty trials and executions. The trial alone where a death penalty is the likely outcome is over a million dollars more expensive than a non-death penalty trial. After that, a person on death row has the option to appeal, and if the appeal is successful, the death penalty isn’t used. Even if it is, the cost of executing a person has risen dramatically over the years.
There is also the question of condemning an innocent man to death. No matter how well crafted a state’s judicial system is crafted, it is still one created by and staffed by human beings. It’s no secret that human beings make mistakes, and this can result in a person who has done nothing wrong facing death at the hands of his or her own government.
Arguments aside, there is still death penalty legislation existing in thirty of the United States. That’s a lot of death penalties and a lot of people who are on death row. The immediate reaction for most people once a death penalty trial has been rendered is to move on and forget about the accused. It’s as though they disappear down a dark corridor, never to return for many. The accused person themselves, however, is not simply executed a few minutes later. Death penalties are serious matters that require a rigid system of checks and balances even after the verdict is announced.
A person given the death penalty can actually be on death row for years, even decades after having been convicted. This is not a coincidence, but allows for the person in question to have the option to pursue an appeal (or appeals) of his death sentence. Aside from an eleventh-hour reprieve from a governor, inmates require post conviction relief, and they especially need it in these cases.
So, the end of the trial isn’t the end of that life. The convicted do go on to consult with lawyers on their cases in hopes that one day, they might be able to prove that the death penalty isn’t relevant to their case. Two-thirds of death sentences in the US are overturned, showing that it isn’t a futile effort, and that law teams are required even after that last bang of the gavel was heard.