The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, is exactly how it sounds. The convicted is sentence to death because of the heinous crimes they have committed by the legal process. “Most death penalty cases involve the execution of murderers although capital punishment can also be applied for treason, espionage, and other crimes” (ProCon, 2014, para1). The eighth amendment protects people from excessive bail, excessive fines imposed, or cruel and unusual punishments. The courts would have to find the death sentence to be proportional to the crime they had committed. The issue with implementing capital punishment, other than the possibility of innocence, is racial and gender disparities within the sentencing.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (2011), “More than an estimated 15,269 Americans have been executed since the inception of the death penalty dating back to colonial times” ( para 1). There have been 1,348 people sentenced the death penalty since 1976. Of the 1,348, 56% were white offenders, 35% black, and 7% were Hispanic (Statistics Brain, 2014). While there does not seem to be a racial bias in the actual sentencing, 76% of the victims were white. This gives a major implication that if the defendant were to kill a white person, their chances of being one of those previously mentioned statistics, increase dramatically. The Death Penalty Information Center (2014) studies found that black defendants with a nonblack victim had a heightened chance of the death penalty over any other combination whether it is white murdered black, black murdered black regardless of the severity in which the crimes were committed
Racial minorities only make up 35% of those that had been sentenced to the death penalty however, that does not negate the fact that racial bias within the criminal justice system exists. Many of the black defendants that were sentenced to death had a jury that was all white. The Death Penalty Information Center states, “In cases with no black potential jurors in the jury pool, black defendants were convicted 81 percent of the time, while white defendants were convicted 66 percent of the time” (2014). Whether or not it is because black victims are just not taken seriously, or it is just a backwards way of whites fight to remain the dominate race, is open for debate. It could obviously be that the white only jury had preconceived notions of African Americans while being able to see another white person may not be as guilty. We unfortunately live in a time where all some people see is color. Saying this, there is a possibility that the case against them was rock solid and they were found guilty without a reasonable doubt. In order to find factual evidence, we would need to look at this, case by case.
It is those reasons that caused North Carolina to pass The Racial Justice Act of 2009. The purpose of the this act was to give capital defendants the opportunity to challenge a death penalty sentence if the sentence...