Capital Punishment

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Capital Punishment in the United States is something that people in our country have never agreed on. For instance the death penalty is not even used in many of the states. The two stances that people take are that the death penalty should be eliminated completely or that it should be used often nationwide with no state exception. My stance on the issue is that the death penalty is wrong and that the United States needs to get rid of it like most civilized countries of this era have.

Even though polls show a strong support for the death penalty most people do not realize the flaws with the system and therefore may not have the same opinion if they did. The first reason that the death penalty must be abolished is because innocent people have been killed. In this great country killing is wrong and this is no different, the innocent person has no reason to be punished but because of the death penalty they are punished severely. If we had a perfect legal system then maybe the death penalty would be okay because we would be positive that we got our man every case. Unfortunately this is not the case and many times innocent people are sentenced the death penalty because of things like false confessions, eyewitness confessions, or another prisoner testifying to get their own charges dismissed. The justice system is flawed in many death penalty cases because of certain lawyers and the race of the victim and the race of the accused are factors numerous times.

When someone is put on trail for murder it starts with the law enforcement officers, they are human and they make mistakes. Although everyone makes mistakes sometimes these mistakes lead to the killing of innocent people. There are many circumstances where the indicted cannot afford their own lawyer and as a result they are given one by the government. While many of these defense attorneys are good at their job some are not and that is unfair to the person on trail. The constitution states the right to a fair trail, but if you have an incompetent lawyer is it really fair? It seems unfair to accuse lawyers of being inept there are examples of poor defending like that of Ron Mock. “Had so many clients sentenced to death that some refer to the ‘Mock Wing’ of death row” (Bright 217). There is an observation by Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg that shows the unfairness of criminal representation she has: “yet to see a death case among the dozens coming to Supreme Court…in which the defendant was well represented at trial. People who are well represented at trail do not get the death penalty.” (Bright 220) What this says is that a poor person is more likely to be sentenced to death than a rich person, so much for all men created equal.

In many states there are no public defense offices so there for private practice lawyers are appointed the cases where the person cannot afford proper representation. These lawyers are paid below the market rates to do this. Like in any profession money talks, and in many states these lawyers are paid little to defend the accused. What kind of motivation will a lawyer have if it was a job that he was assigned and didn’t want to take at all due to low pay? Another issue that Stephen Bright brings up in his argument against capital punishment is that courts believe that any lawyer is capable of handling capital cases. He argues that this is wrong by comparing it to saying that every doctor is able to perform brain surgery, which is clearly not true. It is no different with lawyers. Capital cases are some of the most difficult cases and experienced criminal defense lawyers should be put on the case rather than a lawyer one year removed for law school. Bright sums up this whole argument by saying; “As a result the death penalty will continue to be imposed not upon those who commit the worst crimes, but upon those who have the misfortune to be assigned the worst lawyers”.

Sometimes even with good lawyers some innocent people...
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