Capital punishment is the sentence of death upon a person by judicial process as a punishment for an offense (Capital Punishment). The death penalty is a very controversial issue. There are individuals who hold justice above human life and those who hold human life over justice. There are those for and against the death penalty for many reasons. Take a moment and think about a couple of instances. Darby Gillis was convicted of murder of a hot dog vendor in Chicago.
A witness placed him at the scene of the crime.Ronald Jones was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder and rape of a young woman. He confessed to the crime.
Open and shut cases, right? Not necessarily. What if DNA is present? In the case of Darby Gillis the witness was protecting her boyfriend who committed the murder. Ronald Jones confessed to the crime because the confession was beaten out of him by the police officers (Brooks). These are just a few of the problems that our justice system faces and without DNA evidence people should not be put to death.
In both of these cases DNA helped free both of these innocent men. Some of the problems that our justice system faces are false confessions from the mentally challenged, eyewitness misidentification, bad legal representation, race and gender, and pressure from the media to solve high crime cases. Without DNA evidence the death penalty should not be enforced.
A confession by the defendant is not a dependable indicator of guilt.Manipulation and pressure by the police and the presence of mental retardation or mental illness on the part of the defendant can lead an innocent suspect to be overly cooperative with the authorities by supplying information the police obviously want to hear. The mentally challenged will likely give a false confession because they are either lead to believe that they did something wrong or they are trying to please the officers and tell them what they think the officers want to hear. Mr. Washington is evidence of such a case.
Mr. Washington suffered from mental retardation.During his police questioning he falsely confessed to raping and murdering a woman. He later changed his statement, but was still sentenced to death. DNA tests were conducted later and proved that he was not the culprit, but Mr. Washington had already been executed (DNA Testing and the Death Penalty). People with mental disabilities have often falsely confessed because they are tempted to accommodate and agree with authority figures. Further, many law enforcement interrogators are not given any special training on questioning suspects with mental disabilities.
An impaired mental state due to mental illness, drugs or alcohol may also elicit false admissions of guilt. (Cardozo) Eyewitness misidentification occurs because people are truly mistaken, paid to say something else, or trying to get a lesser sentence for themselves. A survey conducted of jail informants showed that 85% would say what they thought the lawyers and police officers wanted to hear so they could get a lesser sentence. After careful investigation of the informants stories most proved to be fabricated.Some are paid to say something else to cover for someone they know.
Those who are truly mistaken are some of the fewer cases of misidentification (Top 10 Pros and Cons: Should the death penalty be allowed? ). Defendants get bad legal representation because lawyers either have never tried a capital case or they didn’t have the skills and resources needed. Prosecutors who are very strict in their belief of the death penalty may not care that their defendant may be innocent. The defense’s resources are often severely limited by state spending allowances.The attorney must decide whether it would be better to risk the client’s conviction but save his life by spending more time preparing for the sentencing phase. If this occurs at the expense of investigating evidence which might produce an acquittal, it increases the chance that a mistaken conviction will result. Race and gender is not as big a deal as it used to be but still plays a factor when it comes down to death row or how long your prison sentence will be.
Not only does race play a part for the defendant but for the victim as well.If the victim was white verses any other race the punishment was ten times more likely to be the death penalty. As of 2010, women account for only 1. 7% of inmates on death row, with men accounting for the other 98. 3%.
Since 1976, only 1. 0% of those executed were women. A woman on death row is becoming more and more popular. The pressure on police and prosecutors to solve the most notorious murders in a community is hard to deal with. When a police officer is killed or a child brutally raped and murdered, the public is watching every day until a suspect is produced.The terrible murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico in a Chicago suburb in 1983 at first resulted in months of frustration with no indictments.
Eventually, the police and prosecutors settled on the wrong suspects: Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez. Even though their convictions and death sentences were repeatedly overturned on appeal, the prosecutors continued to retry them. They were not officially cleared and released until 1995. Now three prosecutors and four police officers have been indicted for obstruction of justice in this prosecution (Dieter).
As of June 2002 thirty-eight states has authorized the death penalty. Twelve states are still without it. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, eighty-seven people have been freed from death row due to DNA evidence. That is one in seven people on death row! The average cost for one execution case is about $3. 2 million over the costs of a life imprisonment case. The execution case includes pretrial time, experts, and attorneys, two trials (one for guilt and one for punishment), and appeals (Top 10 Pros and Cons: Should the death penalty be allowed? .In capital cases the goal should be to make sure that justice is served and fair.
The defendant should have the opportunity to prove his or her innocence by DNA evidence. If this is properly carried out then there should be no doubt in our minds that we might be putting someone who is innocent to death. Even if just one innocent person is put to death is it still worth the risk? Is that life worth so little? If there is no DNA proof then the person should not be put to death.Works Citedhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishmenthttp://aclu.org/capital-punishment/dna-testing-and-death-penalty