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New Book Sheds Light on How & Why Death Penalty Does Not Work


Between the 1990s and 2016, death sentences dropped by roughly 90 percent, in part due to the decrease in homicide rates, but also because experienced criminal defense attorneys are successfully arguing against it in defense of their clients.

A new book—titled “End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice”—written by a law professor Brandon L. Garrett at the University of Virginia—focuses on why the death penalty is dying and how this will improve the broader criminal justice system. The book poses that it is due, in part, to efforts in educating jurors about mental health evidence and traumatic brain injuries, and its correlation to social history.

The Death Penalty Punishes; It Does Not Deter Crime

In our current discussions about screening inmates for mental health problems—as well as our focus on reducing mass incarceration—we should also be discussing how to treat versus punish. We currently have so many people who are incarcerated for life, even though their mental illnesses or disabilities are so misunderstood and, in fact, not even screened for; much less treated.

As Garrett describes, to date, zero evidence has been produced that the death penalty actually deters crime. The rise of death sentencing came about as a result of lawmakers and prison officials deciding that retribution was preferable over rehabilitation and that deterring crime came second to the purpose of prison, which was to punish.

Innocents on Death Row

Although we do not have data regarding how many innocent people have been executed, we do know that significant numbers have been exonerated due to DNA and other evidence, and that those states with the highest number of death sentences also have the highest overall number of exonerations. From this, experts have estimated that there is a rate of more than four percent regarding sentencing innocent people to death in death penalty cases.

Life Sentences at Record High

The book also sheds light on the lack of adequate criminal defense resources—especially mitigation evidence—available in related cases, such as those that involve life without parole. Even though death sentences are at a record low in the United States, life sentences are at a record high; in fact, they are taking up more than 10 percent of our prisons, and cannot be explained by any overall increase in crime.

If we are to examine mass incarceration, we must examine life sentences, as they arguably reflect a belief that those who get them are beyond any kind of rehabilitation.

Consult a Florida and Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing any kind of criminal charges, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away.

At The Baez Law Firm, our experienced attorneys have defended all types of criminal cases in throughout Florida and Massachusetts. We work aggressively to protect the rights of the accused and help to secure the best outcome in every case. Contact us today to find out more.


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