A group of Georgia conservatives are calling for a “re-think” of the death penalty. At this point, however, they don’t have plans to call to end it. In 2016, the amount of people put to death was the lowest it’s been in 25 years in the U.S., but Georgia and Texas accounted for 80 percent of the nation’s deaths, with Georgia executing more prisoners than any other state.
Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), a member of the group called Georgia Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, listed some of his reasons for being part of the group in a statement. He said, “Many individuals have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to die. Meanwhile, taxpayers are forced to pay for this risky government program, even though it costs far more than life without parole.”
The death penalty does cost far more than life without parole. In a 2008 case in Georgia, the decision to seek the death penalty cost the state more than 3 million dollars.
On average, pursuing the death penalty in court costs taxpayers twice as much as life in prison including the prison time. A study in Oregon found that “61 death sentences handed down in Oregon cost taxpayers an average of $2.3 million, including incarceration costs, while a comparison group of 313 aggravated murder cases cost an average of $1.4 million.”
Georgia’s death row, like many across the nation, is also disproportionately African American — 50 percent of death row convicts are black.
States without the death penalty have consistently had less murders. One suggestion is that government-sanctioned murder legitimizes violence, especially as the solution to a problem. Arguments have been made that the death penalty leads to desensitization and imitation, which also encourage violence in society.
In 2015, Georgia executed an African American man who had been on death row since 1995. As he was given lethal injection he mouthed the words “didn’t do it.” His lawyers argued there was never any physical evidence linking him to the murder. The way he was treated was heinous and inhumane.
Executing even one innocent person is unequivocally a crime against humanity. However, some studies show that as many as one person in 25 executed, are innocent. We can’t claim to be civilized and treat people that way.
It isn’t enough to simply “re-think” the death penalty. We need to end it.