Arizona is one of 32 states where the death penalty is still legal. In fact, Maricopa County leads the country in death penalty statistics. Of the 39 death sentences that were imposed last year, Maricopa County and two other counties (Clark, NV and Riverside, CA) were responsible for almost one-third. The death penalty represents the most extreme example of “tough on crime” measures that elected officials support for political reasons. Are politics a justifiable basis for sentencing someone to death, or to life in prison without parole?

The Death Penalty in Arizona

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to consider a petition for certiorari that addresses the state’s death penalty and potentially the death penalty throughout the country. One of the problems with the death penalty in Arizona is that the state has continued to expand aggravating factors. There are now 14 such factors, which are broadly defined circumstances.

The federal government has tried to curb state death penalty provisions in the past, but due to these factors, 99 percent of all murder cases are eligible for death sentences. Unfortunately, this has also led to racial disparities. For example, Hispanics accused of killing white victims are 4.6 times more likely to be sentenced to death than white defendants accused of killing Hispanic victims.

There’s also the cost of seeking the death penalty. Maricopa County has pursued the death penalty so often that it has racked up millions of dollars in defense costs. There aren’t even enough specialized public defenders qualified to handle that many new cases involving capital punishment.

Harsh penalties for violent crimes may sound good on the campaign trail, but they create their own injustices. If you are being accused of a crime, make sure that you obtain an experienced and reputable legal defense by contacting us at Garcia Law PLLC to schedule a consultation today.