HOW THE DEATH PENALTY HAS AFFECTED HUMANITY – Donna Siepiela

On the day that Timothy Mc Veigh was executed, I looked to my husband and said “What a waste! Now how are we going to learn to prevent that from happening again?
Humanity has wasted too much time and energy on vengeance when it should be focusing on prevention!
Why are we not learning from convicted criminals instead of destroying them? Why not find out what is different about them?”
Studies have shown that the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder as was once thought. States that did not have the death penalty and which later added it to their laws showed no decrease in the murder rate. As a matter of fact, the murder rate actually goes up following a highly publicized execution. So why did we start executing criminals?
Almost 4000 years ago, a Babylonian King named Hammurabi decreed a code of laws that included the phrase ‘An eye for an eye’. This made it legal for a person who had killed a human being to be killed. Since that time, we have progressed, but not by much. We no longer put a person to death if they have killed someone by accident and some states find it unacceptable to kill a person who is mentally ill, or too young, or too mentally deficient to understand. But our understanding of human behavior and physiology has progressed since the time of Hammurabi. Science has progressed, but the laws have not. It’s time we changed our philosophies and upgraded the system. We now know about such scientific facts as the violent effects of overproduction of estrogen in males, the effects of alcohol on the human brain, the many problems with neural transmitters, Impulse Control Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and the effects of child abuse and neglect.
We know that tests taken on male prison populations have shown that the great majority of inmates have an over abundance of estrogen in their systems. An excess of estrogen in males directly results in violent behavior. We have treatments for hormone imbalance these days. Could simple testing and treatment have prevented more crimes then police protection?
We know that 95% of all violent crimes are alcohol related. One conviction for an alcohol related crime should be enough for a person to lose the right to drink alcohol. What would it take to put a little mark on a person’s ID so that store and bar owners would know not to sell them any alcohol? This one simple change in
American philosophy could end prison overcrowding and clear the courts to a manageable level! And what about child abuse and neglect as a factor in crime? The facts show that there is a direct relationship. Yet people still hesitate to report child abuse. States still don’t give child protection agencies the funds necessary to protect and care for all children.
High schools still don’t teach classes on child development and the proper care of children. Every day children in this country are beaten, raped, used to commit crimes, and starved. And we wonder why there are so many juvenile delinquents!
Impulse Control Disorder is an illness that prevents people from controlling their impulses. It is caused by problems with the neurotransmitters in the brain and is connected with a great deal of anti-social behavior from stealing to pyromania to many other reasons.
For example: A small child hits his little brother.
His mother asks him,“ What happens when you hit your little brother?“
“I have to sit for time out,” he replies.
The child is aware of the consequences of hitting, yet the impulse to hit has overshadowed the knowledge of the consequences. In most people, maturity leads to better impulse control. But some people do not develop the mental processes that would give them that control for a long time. The result is that such people know what will result if they commit a crime, yet the impulse is too strong for them to control and they fail to mentally process the results of their action such as going to prison. This is a treatable disorder. Testing for this disorder should be done on inmates to determine exactly how common it is and treatment given to prevent further crimes. I suspect a high number of prison inmates have this disorder as studies show that the older a criminal gets, the less likely they are to commit new crimes.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder comes from problems with the neurotransmitters in the brain also. Sufferers are plagued by ideas/thoughts that are not founded on fact or reality. Again, testing for this disorder should be done on inmates and treatment should be given.
And where would the money for this testing and treatment some from? It cost THREE TIMES as much to execute a person on death row as it does to keep them alive for life. By eliminating the death penalty and introducing mandatory participation in research, we would not only save taxpayers millions PER convict, but we would have the opportunity to learn to prevent future crimes. The death penalty is not doing what it was intended to do. It is not deterring people from murder. Why hang on the death penalty, something to prevent murder and violent crime, then? We have full prisons in every state with people we could be learning from now to prevent future crimes! I’m sure that many would volunteer for such research.
Another thing about the death penalty: about the mistakes. The science of DNA is proving that an unacceptably large percentage of those on death row are/were innocent of the crimes they were convicted of!
Over and over again we hear of how DNA results sent home someone from death row ho was totally innocent.
In Oklahoma, 294 people were sentenced to death between 1973 and 1999 and of theses there were 128 cases where the sentence or conviction was overturned for a multitude of reasons. That’s a 43.9% reversal rate!
I’m sorry, but “Oops!” does not justify the execution of so many innocent people!
To those of you who cry for justice: There is none. Nothing brings back a murder victim regardless if they were murdered by a criminal or the state. Nothing can undo a rape. The one thing we CAN do is to study criminals and learn to prevent future crimes. So why aren’t we doing that? No price could be put on the lives that could be saved.
If your child had one of these disorders, wouldn’t you rather see him/her get early testing and treatment BEFORE he/she committed some violent crime?
Knowing the scientific facts leads one to believe that the death penalty is primitive, barbaric and counterproductive.

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