Dr. Daniel Haynes
December 17, 2012
The Death Penalty
Capital punishment and the death penalty have been used throughout the world for thousands of years. During recent times it has become a much scrutinized topic of interest here in the United States. Throughout recent history there have been many highly publicized trials that have brought capital punishment and the death penalty into the national spotlight of the United States. Some of the most notorious trials dealing with capital punishment were the Nuremberg trials of the 1940’s and the Rosenberg trial and execution of the 1950’s. High profile cases such as these and many others have created a huge debate about the legality and morality of capital punishment and the death penalty. There are many people at all levels of society who strongly oppose the death penalty saying that it is against human rights and is also unjust. I believe that in the United States, the death penalty is not just and is not applied fairly.
There are so many factors that need to be considered when trying to find out if the death penalty is being applied fairly. Should we consider all the statistics from the 1950’s till present day? I believe that the statistics from the convictions of the 1950’s and 1960’s would be truly different when compared to the convictions from 2000 to present day. The reason for the complete difference is because of racial discrimination. Although racial discrimination is not as openly visible as it once was in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and even the 1970’s, racial discrimination still exists in the United States. The NY Times has many statistics that show the percentage of people who have been sentenced to death. “In 173 cases between 1990 and 2010, the study examined decisions involving 7,421 potential jurors (82% were white, and 16% were black)”, (NY Times, Feb 2012). Looking at this statistic alone, it shows a complete imbalance when jurors are selected to hear a case that involves the death penalty. The percentage of white jurors vastly outweighs the percentage of black jurors. If the death penalty is supposed to be decided fairly and justly, then the selection of white jurors should never be allowed to exceed the selected number of jurors of other races by more than 50%. The fact that it does on a regular basis shows that the death penalty is not applied fairly or justly.
Most people who support the death penalty say that our justice system is perfect and does not require any changes. They support this statement by stating that it is better to have a justice system that will convict a person with a small margin of error, rather than having a system that does not punish those who are guilty of serious crimes. Many of the people who commit serious crimes such as murder are not innocent, and most of the people who are convicted of these crimes are also 100% guilty, but some of these people are not guilty at all of any of the crimes that they are being accused of. Innocent people have been sentenced to death by unbalanced juries who have found them guilty of heinous crimes. Even after these cases have been appealed and reviewed by a judge, these innocent people remain on death row.
In some instances, law students and even journalist have studied some of the cases of people being wrongly convicted of a crime and sentenced to the death penalty. These people have been able to find evidence that would overturn a ruling in some cases, but still the innocent person in the case that is being studied remains on death row. The courts are not investigating these allegations of innocent people being sentenced to death when the question of a person’s innocents is in question. So this raises the question again, is the death penalty being applied fairly and justly? I think not. At times the only time these innocent people get off of death row is purely by chance. The death penalty in the...