Is Capital Punishment Just? – Ethics Essay

“That old law about an “eye for an eye” leaves everyone blind” (Martin Luther King Jr.). As a nation, society understands that any form of killing should not be put up with and will not be tolerated

regardless of who does the killing. With this notion in mind, our nation has been contradicting itself for years and will continue to misconstrue everything that it represents by giving authorization for this horrendous, inhumane practice to proceed. I will argue why Capital Punishment should not be enforced due to the reality that the legal system is menacingly flawed in the aspects of it being morally offensive, there are wrongful convictions, it is racially and socially incoherent, and not to mention fraudulent behavior that. Countering my argument, I will present evidence from the apposing view, which reveals details on why the Death Penalty should still be imposed.

Society as a whole is beginning to grasp the logical concept that killing is immoral and will not be admissible in the name of the legal system. To make evident that our nation’s perception on the death penalty is declining, according to Frank Koskosky in the Chicago Tribune,“in 1994, according to Gallop Polls, 80 percent of Americans that supported the death penalty… has dropped to 66 percent, “ meaning, “Americans are becoming increasingly ill-at-ease with capital punishment” (Koskosky18). As a united nation, and land of the free, we have been chastised by “ Mary Robinson, the United Nations commissioner for human rights, …for being out of step with other countries” (Koskosky1).

On the other hand, those that are in favor of the death penalty may argue that the death penalty is admissible biblical due to the statement written in the Old Testament that states “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:23-25). This statement basically supports the old ideology of “what goes around comes around”. Although I may view this punishment as being morally offensive, others, including the victim’s families, may justify this practice for the sake of vengeance or closure. Take for example, an online edition of the Chicago Tribune states “radio host John Kobylt… have been devotiong the…show to their “Tookie Must Die for Murdering Four Innocent People” (Martelle1).

Not only is the death penalty considered to be unjust and immoral, it is also considered to be incoherent racially and socially as well according to statistics provided by the Chicago Tribune. Imbedded in my mind, as well as in the minds of others who believe in the justice system is the “figure of Lady Justice” that “promises among other things, blind justice. However, our justice system is anything but blind(…) To illustrate, the facts are undisputed, according to Sharon Schmickle from the Star Tribune , she believes that “a white person is far less likely to face execution in the United States than is a member of a racial minority. At least three in four Americans are white. But at least half of the 2,800 people on death row are black, Hispanic, Asian, or Indian” (Schimickle1).

As a nation, we fail to recognize that the legal system, amongst everything in this world is not perfect, and can frankly never be perfect. It is contaminated with bias individuals and impurity, as Charles Hoffman in the Chicago Tribune would state, that permit “many black defendants to be condemned to death by all-white juries”(Hoffman1). Schmickle believes that “you can be innocent and wrongly convicted and sent to death because you are black, because you are poor and because you don’t have the resources to confront these problems” (Schmickle1). In fact, from studies performed by Richard Dieter, from www.deathpeantlyinfo.org, “race is more likely to affect death sentencing than smoking affects the likelihood of dying from heart disease. When observing the chart provided by www.deathpenaltyinfo.org, it illustrates the significant difference between inmates who are not of African American decent compared to those that are. The site also concluded that “in 96% of these reviews, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both” (Dieter2).

I want to argue that millionaires and individuals with high socio-economical backgrounds are found not found on death row. Those that are from a lower social group are basically doomed for death because not only have the individuals been brought up in a unstable, poverty-stricken environment, but now the inmates have no other alternative but to receive “thoughtless, overzealous prosecutors and incompetent, low paid public defenders” representing them which in my opinion is the driving force that may actually determine the fate of those convicted (Koskosky1). From national known statistics provided by the Chicago Tribune, it is very scarce to encounter death row inmates that were nurtured in a healthy, attentive environment. The majority of the inmates that are contemplated to be the monsters “rotting on Death Row” come from broken homes with divorced parents and low-income house holds. (Mills1). I believe that if the defendants can afford a top-notch lawyer that actual care about finding the truth in the matter, or even care about the trial itself, the statistics would be significantly lower.

If that is not enough to be apprehensive about, we correspondingly have to be concerned about tampered evidence, whether it be hidden or altered, and the innocent that may be wrongly condemned. Within “our 23 years worth of results, reveal a death penalty collapsing under the weight of it’s own mistakes” believed by Steve Mills and Christi Parsons from the Chicago Tribune (Mills1). In 1998, there was a case that involved a young African American man convicted for murdering an 18-year-old woman of Caucasian decent. In this trial, there were a “dozen witness testified that McMillian couldn’t have been the killer because he was with them at a fish fry on the day of the murder. Meanwhile, the prosecution hid evidence that suggested that its key witness was lying. After a two-day trial, the judge sentenced McMillian to the electric chair” (Schimickle1). Not only that, there has been a sentence that has just recently been thrown out in February 8, 2005. This just goes to show the immensity of errors that occur in such an imperfect system that can ultimately give back life or take it completely away. In this situation, there was a young man by the name of Derrick Jaminson who was convicted of murdering a Cincinnati bartender, based on withheld information and coerced testimony by a co-defendant in the trial in exchange for a shorter sentence. Not only that, during Jaminson’s trial, the key eyewitness testified that he was unable to make a clear and concise identification to the suspect. As a matter of fact, when the eyewitness was asked to identify the accuser in a police line up, he I.D two suspects, none of which was Derrick Jaminson. According to a publication on www.truthinjustice.org, Jaminson is the “119 innocent person to be freed from death row since 1973 and the first to be exonerated in 2005”(truthinjustice.org). Subsequently after that misconception, in addition to supplementary incidents along the way, Governor Ryan had a few issues to stress; he states “thirteen times innocent men were exonerated after rotting on Death Row for years, for that to happen even once is unjust and for that to happen 13 times is shameful and beyond comprehension” (Ryan2). Furthermore, more than half of the 13 exonerated inmates would not have been suitable to be placed on Death Row due to the “proposed eligibility changes” (Mills1).

The system that we rely on to deter murders and crimes from transpiring and has proven a failure as shown by comparing the criminal statistics of those countries where capital punishment has been abolished. In fact, “states with the death penalty often have higher murder rates than neighboring states with it. Most executions in the U.S are carried out in the South, which also has the highest murder rates in the country according to www.nyadp.org. Not only that, I also found out from the same site that the “U.S murder rate is six times that of England, which does not have the death penalty, even though the rates of other crimes in the two countries are similar” (www.nyadp.org) From recent studies found in The Chicago Tribune, “52 percent of the majority don’t think vengeance is a legitimate reason to execute someone” (Mills1). Not only that, those who have be appointed to protect and serve also agree with the vast majority of our responses to terminate capital punishment. Taken from that same source, a poll illustrated that “ 67 percent of police chiefs said that they do not think the death penalty deters homicide”(Mills1). However, such studies are inconclusive because there are also studies that find that the death penalty does indeed prevent crimes from occurring. It is believed that executing the murderer ultimately inhibits them from murdering again, thereby, saving an innocent life. As indicated by www.socsi.colorado.edu, “of the roughly 52,000 state prison inmates serving time for murder in 1984, an estimated 810 had previously been convicted of murder and had killed 821 persons following their previous murder convictions. Executing each of these inmates would have saved 821 lives” (Sharp1)

There is no accurate case or accurate system on account of the “undeniable evidence …every person on Death Row in Illinois was sent there by a grievously flawed system, which failed to ensure that justice was done in his case” believed by Charles Hoffman form the Chicago Tribune (Hoffman18). I would definitely agree with particular aspect of that view. I do not believe that all of the people who were placed in Death Row were innocent, but I do believe that a large majority of those convicted were. Now even if there were one out of fifty defendants that were innocent of a crime, what is a human life worth now and days that it is ok to “murder” all fifty men anyway? Fluctuating mishaps ranging from incompetent defense lawyers, inaccurate eyewitness testimonies, fraudulent judges, and deceitful informants are causing many of the innocent victims lives to be ruined by this so-called ‘just’ system. From www.nyadp.org, “at least twenty-three people were wrongly executed in the 20the century”, and judging from the alarming flaws pointed out prior; the numbers may be much greater (www.nyadp.org).

Clearly, I am not in favor of capital punishment. The whole ordeal in my opinion is too risky and unjust. There are many things that I am concerned about with this system such as wrongful deaths and an immoral practice. This is not something that should just be overlooked as the body count of both innocent and convicted lives are staggering to an all time high each year. Within this report confirms authentic, undistorted facts of real life events that occur on account of the nations systematically flawed system. This is ultimately a continuous cycle that destroys any hope for a peaceful society. How can the justice system ever emphasize the notion that killing is immoral and will not be tolerated when the system is constantly contradicting itself each and every time a life is put to rest? Regardless of if the Death Penalty is implemented or not, it will never bring back the lives of the innocent victim and the sometimes “innocent” defendant. Let us follow in the words provided by author Frank Koskosky and stop this madness, “The world is watching. We are better that this” (Koskosky18).

Bibliography Page

Dieter, Richard C. “The Death Penalty in Black and White: Who Lives, Who Dies,
Who Decides”. www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=45&did=539
Hoffman, Charles. “Governor Should Wipe our Death Row Slate Clean.” Chicago
Tribune 14 March 2002, North Sports Final
Koskosky, Frank J. “Death Penalty.” Chicago Tribune 13 July 2001. North Sports
Final.:18
Martelle, Scott. “Death Row Clash” Chicago Tribune 12 December 2005. Local
news:.1
Miles, Steve. “We’re Talking About Life and Death… Not About Losing an
Election.” Chicago Tribune 16 April 2002, North Sports Final.:1
New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty:http://www.nyadp.org/facts/facts.htm
Http://truthinjustice.org/jamison.htm
Sharp, Dudley. “The Death Penalty and Sentencing Information”:
www.socso.Colorado.edu
Schmickle, Sharon. “Is Racism a Hanging Judge? Star Tribune 5 June 1994.:1

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