Death Penalty The death penalty, outlawed in most of Europe, Canada, Australia and most other countries in the world, is still practiced in almost 40 states in the U.S. Today, there are more than 3,000 people on death row waiting the day of their execution. They are put to death by methods such as hanging, electrocution, lethal injection and by firing squad. Since the death penalty was reinstated bye the supreme court in 1976, by the Gregg v. Georgia decision, more than 525 people have been put to death.
Today there are many people for the death penalty and see nothing wrong with it but there are many people who feel hat it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The 8th amendment of the U.S. protects its citizens from cruel and unusual punishment but the death penalty hasn’t fell under the amendment yet. Nobody on either side of the death penalty debate wants to see an innocent person put to death, and yet studies have found that one in seven people sent to death row are later proven innocent. Still more innocent people are being sent to death row each year. In one case a prisoner was two days away from being executed when he was proven innocent.
That means that many people reach death before they are proven innocent. In the last twenty-four years eighty-five innocent people have been released from death row, and will never get back the years of their lives they missed but just escaped a murder of themselves. In Illinois the governor has blocked executions to find out why more death row inmates have been found innocent and released than executed. The governor of Illinois is not the only one examing the death penalty but many others are looking further into the capital punishment. New technologies, like DNA testing, have made it possible to definitely prove or disapprove innocence in hundreds of cases where genetic evidence has been preserved.
In many cases DNA evidence has been a troublesome effort, requiring lots of resources and sometimes taking years of effort to work. Many people, regardless of their viewpoint about the constitutionality of the death penalty, would agree that if a person was going to trial and could be executed, he would be represented fairly. However there are factors unrelated to the crime that have been committed that determines who gets executed and who doesn’t. Those factors are poverty, race, and geography. It has been proven that the facts of the crime don’t determine the penalty but the quality of representation of the criminal. Almost all capital punishment defendants are indigent when arrested, and are generally represented by court appointed lawyers, who are inexperienced and unpaid.
The federal government and many states have drastically slashed funding to attorneys to represent defendants in the death penalty cases. Some defendants have told stories of their lawyers being drunk or asleep during the trial, never meet with their clients, nor have no legal experience previous to their trial. Often the...