Steven P. Grossman, a former New York City prosecutor and a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, recently wrote in The Baltimore Sun that the death penalty is “not worth the societal effort it requires and the wounds it causes.” The case of Maryland death row inmate Vernon Evans,who received a stay jsut prior to his scheduled execution this month, prompted Grossman to examine capital punishment as it relates to victims’ families and whether executions deter future violent crimes. He noted:

The average capital case in this country takes 12 years from crime to punishment, and a staggeringly small percentage of murders ever lead to executions. Further, can it really be argued that the difference in potential sentences between life in prison without parole, if they are caught and convicted, and the even smaller likelihood of being executed will stop potential murderers from taking a life?

I don’t know the answer as to whether the death penalty is just or just cruel. But I do know that it is not worth the societal effort it requires and the wounds it causes.

Finally, what about the best interests of the families of the victims?

I prosecuted murder cases in a state that had no death penalty at the time. When my office obtained convictions that led to life sentences, the families of the victims got some closure and could return to their lives, although not without permanent wounds.

But where there is capital punishment, as in the Evans case, the families will wait, get close to the end and only find themselves having to wait again and again for the closure they need.

We have long debated whether capital punishment is just. It is time we ask whether it is worth the price that we pay for it.

(The Baltimore Sun, February 12, 2006). See New Voices, Victims, and Life Without Parole.