In a separate incident in Arizona, Ray Krone was convicted of murder and sentenced to death based on the fact that his teeth marks matched the marks left on the victim. He received a new trial three years later, was found guilty again, but had his sentence reduced to life in prison (“Innocence”).
McHone was guilty of his crime and died by lethal injection on May 11, 2005. Krone, however, was not guilty of the crime for which he was accused. On April 8, 2002, Krone was released from prison and was freed of all charges associated with the murder. DNA testing proved that Krone had nothing to do with the murder and even allowed the state to find the real assailant. The only similarity between McHone and Krone is that they both brushed shoulders with the death penalty and spent stints on death row: McHone for 15 years and Krone for 10 (Montaldo; “Innocence”).
Economically, it is common knowledge that the death penalty, and prisons in general, cost a lot of money. Because maintaining the death penalty involves so many resources and costs, it might seem to some that the use of the death penalty should have an effect on the crime rates. However, “FBI Uniform Crime Report data show no statistical difference in crime rates based on the existence or frequency of use of the death penalty” (Ballaro). Even with this disappointing data, the fact remains that if someone is put on death row and executed, that person will never commit another crime. The cost does remain a concern, however, because it takes a lot of money and doctors to make sure a person is executed humanely. It is unethical to execute a sick person and even illegal to execute someone who is cognitively impaired, so sometimes medical bills are involved in making the inmate physically fit enough to die and psychiatric evaluations to insure mental competency. In 2005, for example, New Jersey found that the death penalty had cost taxpayers $253 million since 1983. In 2004 Tennessee’s Office of Research found that trials involving the death penalty cost an average of 48 percent more than trials seeking life in prison. And in California $90 million more was spent for the death penalty than for typical capital cases (DPIC). For better or worse, the United States does feel the financial burden of execution, but in comparison to the cost of human life, both victim and perpetrator, there must be no monetary unit too high for justice.
The effect of the death penalty on the United States is not exclusive to the U.S. The “Supreme Court…has not yet seen fit to end the practice that nearly all civilized nations have already ended” (Ballaro), straining our ties with other democratic and ‘civilized’ nations. The United States stays with the death penalty mainly because of its citizens, more than half of whom are for the death penalty and do not want it abolished. An international issue could be brewing, although the lack of effect resulting from our policy thus far has led some to believe that the death penalty will not affect international alliances. In contrast, America shares the status of legal death penalty with numerous countries including Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Egypt, North Korea, Vietnam, and many others. According to Amnesty International, 137 countries have rid themselves of the death penalty. The United States has not turned a blind eye to the countries that have abolished the death penalty. In fact, it played a role in 2005 when the United States deemed it unconstitutional to execute criminals if they committed the capital act when they were under the age of eighteen or if they were cognitively impaired (Ballaro).
The history of capital punishment in the United States is a long and colorful one. From killing witches in Salem to hanging rogues in the Wild West, America has often and typically enthusiastically, taken part in various legal executions. From lynching people in the South to lethal injection in 36 states, executions provide some sort of twisted entertainment, something to talk about, and, for some, a sigh of relief. With such a bloody past, and the practice of execution since America was founded, no doubt there must be something effective and final about it. Capital punishment is so ingrained in America that to abolish it completely would surely mean the country is taking a turn. The death penalty has been abused, even supporters of the death penalty will admit this, but measures have been taken and laws have been made to inhibit excessive use of the death penalty and use of frivolous executions. Now, in nearly all states that incorporate the death penalty, murder, sex crimes, murder for hire, treason, kidnapping, and aircraft piracy remain the major crimes that warrant the death penalty (DPIC). The crimes and punishments vary from state to state, so what could cost felons their lives in Colorado might not be punishable by death in Arizona.
Ballaro, Beverly, and C. Ames Cushman. "Point: Capital Punishment Should Be Abolished." Points of View Reference Center. EBSCO, 2009. Web. 16 Dec. 2010.
Bowman, Jeffrey, and Tracey M. DiLascio. "Counterpoint: The Death Penalty Is Necessary." Points of View Reference Center. EBSCO, 2009. Web. 16 Dec. 2010.
Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). Death Penalty Information Center. Web. Winter 2010.
"Innocence Cases: 1994 - 2003." Death Penalty Information Center. Death Penalty Information Center, 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2010.
Montaldo, Charles. "Steven McHone - Murderer." Crime and Punishment Home Page. About.com, a Part of The New York Times Company, 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2010.