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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
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A fighter jet squadron flies over during the National Anthem before Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Bryan-College Station Regional participants announced
Ian Curtis, Sports Writer • May 27, 2024

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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
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Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Texas must re-examine its leading ways in capital punishment

Once again, Texas finds itself leading the nation in executions. The Houston Chronicle recently reported that “the state accounts for more than one in five death sentences nationwide, up from one in ten in 1996.” Texas puts as many prisoners to death each year as the next three states – Oklahoma, North Carolina and Ohio – combined. Many Texans might be proud of this distinction, but capital punishment is an expensive way of letting the worst people in society take the easy way out.
What many people don’t know about the death penalty is that, in our current system, it costs less to put someone in jail for life than to execute him. A report from Kansas’ Legislative Division of Post Audit published in 2003 states that “the estimated cost of a death penalty case was 70 percent more than the cost of a comparable non-death penalty case.” The criterion for this claim is fairly asserted: “death penalty case costs were counted through to execution (median cost $1.26 million). Non-death penalty case costs were counted through to the end of incarceration (median cost $740,000).”
It’s impossible to dismiss this evidence as a flaw in Kansas’ execution system, as the guidelines for the death penalty were set nationwide with the 1976 Supreme Court case Gregg v. Georgia. According to the report, “the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that death is different, which leads to more review and a lengthier process for those cases in which the death penalty is sought.”
Therefore in Texas, like everywhere else, it costs more to kill someone than to put him in prison for life. It is impossible for Texas to make this cheaper, so it is important to question the need for the death penalty. Many Texans probably believe that this extra cost is worth it to deliver needed justice to our worst criminals. Yet, the death penalty is not the deterrent for murder that many believe it to be.
Data published by The New York Times shows that the United States’ homicide rate is twice that of countries in Europe that have banned the practice. Executions are not broadcast on national television, so the few that happen rarely create the media buzz for the death penalty to deter future crime. Public opinion in the United States even reflects the failure of execution as a deterrence method: a 2004 Gallup Poll shows that 62 percent of Americans do not think that the death penalty is an effective deterrent for murder.
If anything, it would seem that the death penalty might be a lighter sentence than life in prison. If a prisoner is executed, then he is relieved from the social guilt concerning his horrible deeds.
The final problem with the death penalty is the fact that the institution is blatantly racist. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice indicates on its Web site that so far in Texas, blacks account for 56 percent of the executions this year and 40 percent of inmates on death row, despite being less than 12 percent of the population. In comparison, whites account for 30 percent of executions this year and 32 percent of inmates on death row. The racism inherent in our society manifests itself in the death penalty, which is why black leaders are often against capital punishment publicly. The facts show that they are correct about the death penalty being applied unfairly, and abolishing it is the only way to solve the inequalities.
Unfortunately, Texas will probably continue to lead the nation in capital punishment next year as well. Yet, the questions regarding the death penalty must be answered if we continue to spend an unnecessary amount of taxpayer money on a flawed penalty.

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