Home / Fall 2015 / 2015-10-29 / Current decline in inmates might not last

Current decline in inmates might not last

Photo Illustration: Kayla Stroud/SPECTATOR

Written by Niamani Carlyle-Hollis, Staff Writter

Chart of executions in the U.S. TNS 2015 (Graphic Courtesy: MCTCampus)
Chart of executions in the U.S. TNS 2015 (Graphic Courtesy: MCTCampus)

In 1999, a record number of 98 executions were completed but since then have been on a rapid decline. So far this year, a total of 24 inmates have been executed. With a total of 3,002 inmates still waiting to face their fate on death row and 85 in Georgia alone, one cannot help but wonder whether or not this decline in executions is a good or a bad thing.

Imprisonment and executions were implemented to weed out the bad apples of our nation by choosing to eliminate the problem and remove them from society completely based on the parameters of the crimes committed. It would seem as though the old adage of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” would be perfect in describing the judicial system’s thought and decision making process. Yet the fact remains that the number of executions being followed through each year steadily drops. So are we moving past this death penalty phase that has been a part of our nation since the beginning of time?

There are a couple of factors that have contributed to the decline of executions occurring. One being that there is a shortage of lethal injection chemicals. States have been forced to formulate new drug combinations and turn to unethical methods of obtaining pharmaceuticals that have been banned, methods which have caused many lawsuits to arise from death row inmates. Many states have chosen to postpone executions, until the issues at hand pertaining to the new protocols were settled.

The second factor is a lack of general support when it comes to the death penalty. 24 states so far have chosen to abolish the death penalty, as society continues to shift to a more negative outlook on the death penalty.

Families, more often than not, ask the courts to not sentence inmates that have wronged them to the death penalty, but tend to prefer life sentences. Many people no longer agree with people being sentenced to death, no matter the extremity of their crime.

“I personally don’t support the death penalty. I know that people can commit some pretty harsh crimes and may even deserve to die, but I feel that the time would come where that person would be judged by a higher power,” said Shaniece Toussaint, a VSU sophomore. “Having to sit in a small box alone for the rest of your life to think about your actions would be punishment enough for now.”

Like Toussaint, many in today’s society have chosen to no longer support the death penalty and believe that it is a good thing that society is moving away from such barbaric methods of punishment. Then there are others that whole-heartedly disagree and feel that if one commits a crime that qualifies the death penalty as punishment, then he/she deserves whatever is coming to them.

“Yes, I support the death penalty. I say that because if a person does not have enough morals to the point where he goes out and commits a crime that punishes him to death, then he deserves it and society would be better off without him,” said James King a senior at VSU. “It’s no need in him sitting up in prison wasting taxpayer dollars for the rest of his life.”

With support for and against the death penalty, one cannot help but wonder whether the decline in executions would continue to grow. I am sure that the 3,002 inmates that are currently on death row would certainly appreciate the decline in death sentences. Society may be becoming a more merciful and forgiving nation, but with factors such as the overcrowding of prisons and the cost of housing those said inmates, I find it hard to believe that the decline will continue.

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