Is Capital Punishment Necessary? Essay

1190 words - 5 pages

Is Capital Punishment Necessary?

 

In 1980 Clarence Brandly, a black high school janitor, and his white co-worker found the body of a white female student. As the police interrogated them, the officers told them, "One of you is going to hang for this." As he was looking at Brandly, the officer said, "Since you're the nigger, you're elected." Brandly was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. The evidence against him was weak and the police disregarded other leads. In 1986, a volunteer group devoted to freeing wrongly convicted prisoners came to Brandly's assistance. Meanwhile evidence surfaced that another man had committed the crime that Brandly was convicted for. He wasn't released until 1990 (http://www.aclu.org/library/case_against_death.html/#eight).

 

 

The death penalty is one of the most controversial topics in the world. The numbers of people who support the death penalty is diminishing for many reasons. The leading reason: discrimination. Punishment is only effective if it is constantly enforced, and capital punishment can't be enforced all the time. Third, people who commit crimes of personal violence may or may not premeditate the crime. Also, severe punishment can discourage crime, but is death better than life-long incarceration? Lastly, death is irreversible. Since 1990, in the United States, there has been an average of more than four cases each year in which an entirely innocent person was convicted of murder and sentenced to death (http://www.acle.org/library/case_against_death.html/#eight).

 

 

The American public support of the death penalty is declining. Actually, the United States is the only Western industrialized country where people are still being executed. In 2001 a July Harris Interactive survey found that only 42% believe that the death penalty discourages crime. This is the smallest percentage in 25 years. This survey also found that 94% of Americans believe that innocent people are convicted of murder and of those surveyed; they believe that 12% of those convicted are innocent. (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/Polls.html#USAToday).

 

 

One of the major reasons suport of capital punishment is declining is discrimination. There is an excessive amount of discrimination of African Americans and the poor in the court systems. For example the story of Clarence Brandly, there was uncalled for discrimination both in the courtroom and with the police because he was black. Our county's death row prisoners have always had disproportionate numbers of African Americans, considering that they represent about 12% of the population. Between the years of 1930 and 1996, 4,220 prisoners were executed in the United States. Of those executed, over half of them were black. Over the last century, blacks were often executed for what was considered less-than-capital crimes for whites, such as rape and burglary. In 36 years, 455 men were executed for rape. Out of those 455 men...

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