During this class period today, seven adult men will be falsely accused ofcommitting a serious crime, carrying a penalty of capital punishment. This meansapproximately 51,000 adult men are falsely accused of committing serious crimeseach year. This figure is roughly the number of people who attended SuperBowl-Thirty-Three. Currently, there are 3,500 people on death row inthirty-eight states that support and carry out the death penalty while onlytwelve states have outlawed it. At the same time, more than half the countriesin the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Capitalpunishment is very relevant to each member of society.
It is not just a maleonly issue. Every single one of us in this room has a father, brother, orsignificant others who could be affected. Capital punishment in America ismorally unjust and should be eliminated because it is cruel and unusual; itkills innocent people; and it is used in a discriminatory manner. Sometimescriminals suffer more during their executions than is anticipated or planned. People sentenced to death are certain to face one of the following methods ofexecution still practiced today: firing squad, electric chair, lethal injection,gas chamber or hanging. But, injecting with poisonous chemicals, smothering withtoxic gases, and electrocuting with high voltage are the preferred methodsbecause bloody human tissues are not strewn about, as with other methods,therefore those people assigned to scour the execution site are less likely toexperience psychological trauma.Order now
Although tidy, these styles of killing rarelysucceed on the first attempt; instead, prisoners regularly suffer intense painfor long periods of time before expiring. According to Seideman, the case ofScotty Sutton is one example of many bungled executions that take place everymonth. While administering a lethal injection, all the executioners attemptsto find a vein have failed. Scotty started moaning and heaving in agonysignaling a partial dose found his blood stream. Realizing the dose was notenough to end his life the executioner tried several failed attempts in the neckarea hoping to find a main artery. Meanwhile, 300 pound, Scotty is stillbreathing after five minutes into this botched execution.
The chemicals thatwere prepared and on hand have been seriously depleted. In a last ditch effort,the executioner signaled for help and directed a prison staff member to cut awaya portion of the thick canvas jacket to expose an area of his chest to deliver alethal dose directly into his heart; moments later Scotty expired (3). Anotherexample that is equally as cruel as lethal injection is the gas chamber. Thismethod of execution places a prisoner in a cell that fills with cyanide gas.
Thesymptoms of dying first start with tears falling uncontrollably from the eyes. Then, snot and bodily fluids run unobstructed from the nose. Also, puss dribblesout the mouth, and blisters form on the skin about the face. Finally, breathingis restricted and the heart stops.
This process can take eight minutes that mayseem like eight hours to the prisoner. Another account of inhumane punishmentcomes from witnessing a prisoners execution in the electric chair. Sciencehas not determined how long an electrocuted individual retains consciousness,but when the switch is thrown, the body jerks, smoke frequently rises from thehead, and there is a smell of burning flesh (Seideman 4). For example, one casein May 1990, Jessie Tafero, a Florida prisoner, gurgled and his head bobbedwhile ashes fell from it, for four minutes (Seideman 5). Another case in July1986, Kevin Barnes, an Alabama prisoner, took three jolts of electricity and tenminutes before being pronounced dead (Seideman 5).
In the Chicago Tribune reporton Miscarriages of Justice, it was reported that since 1975 at least 381innocent people have been convicted of capital crimes they did not commit(Armstrong). Guilty criminals deserve to die for the horrible acts they commit,not innocent people. The Death penalty practiced is far from humane; in fact, itis downright torturous in many cases and Heaven forbid if we send an innocentperson to death row. Every time the state kills an innocent person, justice hasfailed; sympathy from our hearts goes to families suffering from grief; then,the peoples business is soon back to normal. This tragic cycle will continueuntil capital punishment is outlawed. Occasionally killing an innocent personwhile in the process of trying to kill guilty criminals is unacceptable.
TheChicago Tribune conducted a study and analyzed thousands of court records fromacross the country to find some disturbing news. Research has revealed that,with impunity, prosecutors across the country have violated their oaths and thelaw, committing the worst kinds of deceptions in the most serious of cases(Armstrong 1). Hiding or presenting false evidence was the prosecutorsstrategy to deceive the courts and win their case; they knew they would not getpunished. Armstrong reports, they have prosecuted black men, hiding evidencethat the real killers were white. They have prosecuted a wife, hiding evidenceher husband committed suicide. They have prosecuted parents, hiding evidencetheir daughter was killed by wild dogs (Armstrong).
Studies show, since 1975at least 381 innocent people have had their conviction thrown out (Armstrong 2). Dishonest lawyers who represent our justice system should be held accountablefor the deaths of those innocent people convicted of crimes they did not commit. A report released by the Chicago Tribune points out that recent advances in DNAtechnology have stirred the hopes of many prisoners that may be innocent andlooking for a loop hole in getting another chance to appeal. As a result, 1000new cases crowd the courts, and 75 of which are death row prisoners (Armstrong5). Verneal Jimerson of Illinois and Kirk Bloodsworth of Maryland, both werelater exonerated by DNA tests, but not before spending 5 years in prison(Armstrong). Capital punishment is prone to killing innocent people.
A courterror can be corrected with a pardon but a pardon after death is not valued toanyone (Seideman 2). Race is an important factor in determining who is sentencedto die. When dealing with race, statistics are important because they providefacts that are unbiased and indisputable. Martin Luther King said, sometimesa law is just on its face and unjust on its application (King 159). Meaningintentions are good but its outcome is unjust.
With capital punishment, thestatistics present the big picture by revealing that biased judgments were madealong racial lines and therefore must be examined first. Then, each court caseis examined to enumerate the evidence that supports our conclusion drawn fromthe statistics. For example, statistics shows that, during 1997-1998 thepopulation of our country was 252. 7 million. 72. 9 percent of this amount waswhite, yet whites accounted for only 49.
1 percent of prison inmates, whileblacks who accounted for only 15. 3 percent of the entire population, accountedfor 47. 3 percent of prison inmates. The statistics are similar for thepopulation on death row and executions (Cabana 1).
These statistics suggest aracial problem does exist but is not enough to make a claim. Each case is nowexamined; the evidence that supports the claim is enumerated; the result is awell thought out explanation of the problem. For example, after carefullystudying the statistics the General Accounting Office released a report in 1990that insists the race of the victim in capital murder cases influenced whetherprosecutors would pursue the death penalty or not. In particular, it insiststhat, a black man who kills a white person is 11 times more likely to receivethe death penalty than a white man who kills a black person (Fernando 1). Insimpler terms, the law does not stand for torture or racism; instead, it honorsdue process and equal justice for all.
The law promises we punish criminals butfails to eliminate wrongful convictions. It is not necessary to kill someone aspunishment because when the person is dead, you are not punishing him; you arepunishing only the people who love him. These victims would benefit far more ifthe funds used for appeals were diverted to the provisions of counseling andother assistance. Racism continues to play an unacceptable role in capitalpunishment. In death penalty cases the race of the victim is much more importantthan the prior criminal record of the defender or the actual circumstances ofthe crime.
More than half of those on death row are people of color, althoughthey represent about six percent of the U. S. population, about forty percent ofthose on death row are African American. On the basis of race, the death penaltystill discriminates against minorities; therefore, our principles of justice andfairness are being selectively applied. Currently in America we have not asystem of justice, but injustice.
Bibliography*http//sun. soci. niu. edu/~critcrim/wrong/tribpros10. html* Seideman, David,(1998, June17-last updated).
Executions and Suffering Accessed: March 17, 1999. *http://ethics/ucsd. edu/death. penalty. html Fernando, Javier, (1994,April-creation date). American Justice in America Accessed: March 10, 1999.
*http://www. miamicity. com/miami/literadeath. html* Cabana, Don, (1998-copyright).
Death Penalty Statistics Accessed: March 20, 1999 *http://www.theelectricchair.com/stats.htm*Legal Issues