Wrongful convictions are also likely to be farthest from the public’s mind as public outrage always seems to be reserved for those who “walked free” or “beat the system. ” In comparison, the latest developments in technology have vindicated those who have been wrongfully accused and have been serving time for crimes they have committed. Human error and unethical conduct by the police, bungling lawyers, false accusations and many other factors contribute to the incarceration of innocent people.
As recent as 2000, mere students have uncovered evidence suggesting police mishandling that led to four people waiting 20 years for their turn on capital punishment. As of 2005, 158 people have been set free after being wrongfully imprisoned (Cole, Smith, 2007, p. 413). While these people have been sadly overlooked by the general population, it is dumbfounding to look back on the numbers of people who lost years in their lives for the knee-jerk reaction of wanting someone to blame, wanting someone to point a finger to. Death penalty as a deterrent to crime is another issue that is being hotly debated by those against the death penalty.
The high cost of death penalty, they say, in addition to the appeals and the tactics the lawyers employ, could have been utilized in preventing the escalation of crime. The reality is, the advocates say, that it is not a choice between capital punishment and no punishment, but capital punishment and no punishment at all. Common constituents opined through votes that capital punishment in itself was a strong deterrent, but criminologists have the opposite view. Criminologists believe that there is little to no difference in deterring crime by employing capital punishment (Whitt, Clarke, 2007, p.
77). Paired with the view that capital punishment is a violation of the Eighth Amendment, one has to ask if the capital punishment is even necessary, in view of the fact that other punishments can be imposed upon by the judiciary system. Surely, imposing capital punishment on big and controversial cases can make a very strong statement to the public from their institutions: We’ve got you covered. Yet advocates say that this vengeance-seeking and publicity-riddled presentation on controversial cases can get in the way of real justice.
In the heat of the trial, situations quickly become an “us versus them” scenario. No one wants to feel empathy for the defendant and everyone wants to see someone pay for the crime. Politics and image come into play, and everyone wants to become a hero. And as of 2005, 158 innocent men and women have felt the injustice of a faulty trial due to the circus caused by the crime they did not commit. On the flipside is this nightmarish scenario: Death penalty as a way to fame. There have been cases of criminals committing crimes because they wanted to follow the footsteps of “famous” death row inmates.
Other criminals may also want it as a way out, a death wish, as in the case of Ted Bundy (Whitt, Clarke, 2007, p. 85). Capital punishment, in these cases, is very plainly shown as something for criminals to aspire for, a way to instant celebrity or a circuitous route to determine their own deaths. It is quite clear that the majority of Americans favors the death penalty and views it constitutional. Not just the civilian majority, but the majority of judiciary institutions across the nation upholds death penalty as well. It goes without saying that those advocating for the total abolition of capital punishment have a long way to go.
Educating the masses on the implications of the death penalty would be the best beginning in stemming the tide of popular opinion and support for capital punishment. On a more positive note, courts across the country have become more circumspect in handing out death penalty to convicted felons. Those who have been proven innocent are slowly being released, and their learned experience could help prevent more innocent people from being imprisoned unjustly. Advocates against the death penalty should encourage their fellow Americans to go back to the heart of the matter: that capital punishment is a faulty and flawed method of punishment.
That many innocent people may still be spared their lives and future unjustly imprisoned men and women may still find vindication before falling into despair. References Baldus, D. , and Woodworth, G. , and Pulaski, C. J. (1990). Equal Justice and the Death Penalty: A Legal and Empirical Analysis. England: Northeastern University Press. Bardes, B. , and Shelley, M. , and Schmidt, S. (2010). American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials. California: Cengage Inc. Bedau, H. A. and Cassell, P. Debating the Death Penalty: Should South America Have capital Punishmen? Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Cole, G. and Smith, C. (2007).
The American System of Criminal Justice. California: Thomas Wadsworth. Delfino, M. and Day, M. (2009). Death Penalty USA: 2001-2002. Florida: MoBeta Inc. , 2009. Fleury-Steiner, B. (2004). Jurors’ Stories of Death: How America’s Death Penalty Invests in Inequality Michigan: University of Michigan Press. Whitt, L. and Clarke, A. W. (2007). The Bitter Fruit of American Justice: International and Domestic Resistance to the Death Penalty. New Hampshire: University Press of New England. Zimring, F. and Hawkins, G. (1986). Capital Punishment and the American Agenda. New York: Cambridge University Press.