The Death Penalty
When a family goes to the penitentiary to see their loved one be placed on a table to soon be injected with a concoction of lethal drugs how do you think they feel? In the words of Associate Justice William J. Brennan “Death is an unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, its finality, and its enormity” (Brennan 1976). Across the United States of America there sit around 3,125 inmates on death row. According to “Justice For All” it costs between $1.2 million to $3.6 million per person to house and carry out death sentences across the United States (Sharp 1997). The cost varies from state to state depending on the state and area that the inmate is housed. In the state of New York it can cost up to three to four times as much as in Illinois. In Illinois taxpayers have spent nearly $800 million dollars to send around just 300 men and women to death row in the last 22 years (Edgar 2001). Such a large price to pay to send a very small amount of people to death row seems appalling. Without a justice system that has no flaws how can the death penalty be carried out properly?
Many moral issues have been connected to capital punishment ever since it was instituted in the United States. Capital punishment was reinstated in the United States of America in 1977 and since then 34 states have carried out an execution. Since 1992 there have been at least 15 inmates on death row who have been exonerated when it was discovered they were not guilty. Take the stories of Herman Atkins and Patrick Croy into consideration if you support the death penalty.
Herman Atkins, a tall and poised man, is a blissful newlywed and pursuing a masters and doctoral degree in Psychology from California State University, Fresno. The son of a California Highway Patrol Officer, Herman has traveled the country and starred in an acclaimed documentary. By looking at him, you would never know that twelve years of Herman's life were stolen by the State of California. His adolescence cheated by the error of the criminal justice system, and only to be resolved over a decade later.
In 1986, Herman was a recent high school graduate, preparing to follow his admired father's footstep and join the military. A twisted set of events, however, prevented him from even experiencing his twenties.
Herman, now 40, was accused of raping a woman during a 1986 robbery in a Lake Elsinore shoe store. DNA testing was not available during his trial; however, in 1993, the Innocence project requested that the evidence be tested. The results were not surprising - the source of semen on the victim's sweater eliminated Herman as the source. The FBI lab confirmed these results.
Herman, the 70th person in North America freed from prison as a result of DNA testing, was released on February 18th, 2000, after serving almost 12 years for a crime he did not commit. The rapist was never caught.
"Only God and I knew my innocence," Herman tearfully stated on the day of his release. "Today, God, I,...