Despite the many government and community initiatives launched duringrecent years to reduce crime, most Americans see no improvement. In a 1993survey asking respondents if they felt crime was increasing or decreasing intheir areas, only 5 % felt that it was decreasing, a full 93 % felt that crimewas either increasing or staying the same. And it is not just statistics: Iconsider myself along with those 93 %. Because while Guiliani administration istalking about crime rates in the New York City going down, all I see and hearin the media are reports about horrible crimes committed by New Yorkers. As George Pettinico states in his article ” Crime and punishment:America changes it’s mind “: The media’s extensive coverage of crime, especiallythe most brutal and horrific cases have heightened the public’s fear and angerover this issue to a near frenzy. When asked in January of this year, ” Howoften do you see reports of violent crime on television ? ” 68 % replied “almost every day “.
Although the media have played an important role in raising the public’sawareness of lawlessness, crime in America is far from a media – createdphenomenon. Government statistics support the image of a nation which hasoverwhelmingly lost the war against crime. For instance, in 1960 there were 161reported violent crimes per 100,000 people By 1992, the figure had jumped to 758per 100,000 — a rise of over 350 %. More and more people today are starting to think that something isterribly wrong when a modern, civilized nation must confront statistics likethese. The American public is demanding an end to this violence, and surveysshow that they believe swift and harsh punishment is the most appropriate andeffective means to these ends. The death penalty, or as it is sometimes being called ” capitalpunishment ” is the hardest punishment that could be received when a person isconvicted of a capital offense.
Until recently it did not exist in New YorkState but after new governor, George Pataki was elected he managed to bring itback. Since September 1, 1994 the death penalty law was in effect. And eventhough, as far as I know, there is no strong statistical evidence that the deathpenalty lowers the murder rate, many people were very happy with that decision. What they probably though was ” some people would not commit a murder, rapeor another violent crime if they would know that they could get on a death rowfor that “.
However, my personal opinion is that death penalty has to be justifiedon its own goodness, rather than by some pragmatic result it brings about. Thegovernor and legislature of New York State evidently agree with this contention,for they enacted a death penalty law in the face of falling rates for murder andother serious crimes. Currently there are two opinions about the death penalty law. Firstopinion is that the existence of such a law helps keeping the crime rates down. The opposite one is about a fact that killing people should not be done byanybody, including state and federal law enforcement system. Let us take acloser look on both of those opinions.
Bringing the death penalty law back to life was a part of Gov. GeorgePataki’s election program. As we have seen learned from the media and from theresults of numerous surveys, a quite large number of people who supported GeorgePataki, were doing that mainly because of this part of his program. But does having a death penalty law actually help keeping the crimerates down? The answer is in the statistics: it turns out that the violent crimerates in New York State did not go down for the past year since the deathpenalty law was in effect.
Another thing that would surprise those who supportdeath penalty is it’s price. The fact is: each death penalty case costs about2. 3 million dollars. That is three times more than a price for keeping a personin a prison for the rest of his life.
Here is what Mr. C.Hoppe states in hisarticle ” Executions Cost Texas Millions “: For the states