Running head: The death penalty
The death penalty should be abolished as a form of punishment. Johnathon Aaron
The death penalty should be abolished as a form of punishment. This paper intends to shine some light on the death penalty in order to help the reader understand what issues face the system today and what problems can be corrected. This paper achieves this by: (1) pointing out the wrongful sentencing of innocent people and the use of DNA testing in attaining their freedom; (2) emphasizing the unjustness of the Capital Punishment system due to the arbitrary, racial and geographically biased nature of the process; And also (3) It shows that the evidence backing up deterrence as a major benefit of the death penalty is exaggerated and unsubstantiated. With a specific look at how “future dangerousness” plays a part in keeping the death penalty around and how to change that. Last it will look at the rising costs associated with Capital Punishment. The death penalty risks too many innocent lives.
DNA testing is currently the single greatest savior of unjustly sentenced death row inmates. It aided in the exoneration of 133 prisoners between 1973 and 2009. (Schmalleger, 2011) But up until the 1960s DNA exoneration by science wasn’t even thought up. This leads us to wonder how many death row inmates are actually innocent today. In most cases, there is no DNA evidence left behind leaving only the account of eyewitnesses to validate the crime. The only issue with that is witnesses have been wrong before. One notable death row case involving an eyewitness’s misconception was DeLuna v. Texas 1983. Carlos DeLuna was wrongfully executed for killing a single mother at his local gas station even after the real killer, who bear a striking resemblance to DeLuna, was captured and placed in a cell underneath his own. The person who helped unwind this web of DeLuna is the notable Columbia law professor James Liebman. In 2001 one of Liebman’s study revealed an error rate of 68% in Capital cases.(William W Berry, 2010) the extinguishing of an innocent human beings life is an irrevocable mistake that could be avoided with a sentence of Life without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP). Imbalanced justice system
Part of the definition of Justice is “fairness or reasonableness, especially in the way people are treated or decisions are made” when you relate this to the death penalty you are presented with many divergence’s to that same logic. The following are a few examples of how the death penalty is unfair to certain groups: first the system is arbitrary in nature. The rich are able the attain some of the best defense attorneys in order to greatly increase their chance of avoiding the death penalty, while the poor must receive state appointed counsel. What makes matters worse is the lack of skilled counsel willing to work on Capital Punishment leads to a continued rise in the backlog of unrepresented sentenced prisoners. (Gray, 2011) The second example of unfairness results from geographic location. In some states, a felony murder is a Capital crime, Maryland is one. While other states, like New Jersey, need aggravating circumstances before the death penalty is given. Also, between the years of 1976 and 2004 more than 700 executions took place. 82% were a product of these ten states: (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MO, OK, SC, TX and VA) With Texas and Virginia accounting for half of these nationwide executions. (American Civil Liberties Union, 2002) There are no significant data showing a higher rate of violent crime in those states. So I must infer that, on a nationwide level, the Capital Punishment is unjust or at the very least unbalanced. The third unjustness of the Capital Punishment system stems from its racial disparities. Bias manifests itself in two ways. One, the even though “Latinos are the largest ethnic minority group in the United States” they still only comprise between 8% and 13% of defendants on death row in the...
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Furman v. Georgia 408 U.S. 238 (1972).
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