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The Role Racism Plays In Death Penalty

1590 words - 6 pages

Imagine a man or woman standing in front of a jury accused of a crime they may or may not have committed. The jury has two decisions: either to let the defendant live or to let him or her die under the death penalty. The death penalty is a capital punishment where the person convicted of the crime is executed. The jury may use evidence in the case to determine the fate of the defendant or they could use their own racial bias. Unfortunately, more often than not the future of the defendant is fueled by racist thoughts in the process of his or her conviction. Therefore, the death penalty should be abolished because of the racism in the death penalty system.
The issue of racism and the death penalty could have been dated back to when humans first walked on the Earth. Prejudices against a certain group of people vary from religion to race. In World War II, Jewish people were discriminated against by the Nazis while in the American Civil War there was the issue of if African Americans should be just as free as white men. The death penalty dated back to ancient Greece under the laws of Draco where it was used as a capital punishment for murder, treason, arson, and rape (“Capital Punishment”). Much like today, the death penalty is a capital punishment where someone has done those crimes. In America’s past however, such “death penalties” were taken place by executing African American men without even a trial. For example in 1876, white militia executed five African American men without a trail in what is known as the Hamburg Massacre and in 1882-1968 around 3,446 African American men and women are put to death for alleged crimes where they weren’t even proven guilty (“Racism Timeline”). Such events made this problem get attention and gave start to a solution to try to get rid of racism in the death penalty system.
Racism in the death penalty began for a few reasons. Racism is often fueled by the thought that a certain race is better than other races. In 1992, a woman was attacked in Oneonta, New York and the police, in search of the perpetrator, attempted to examine the hands of every African American resident in the town (“Racism Timeline”). African Americans and in some areas Latinos were stereotyped in being violent and aggressive resulting in them getting accused more for crimes such as rape or assault. This gave whites an almost positive stereotype making them look innocent and nonviolent. These two stereotypes have carried on to the present day resulting in racial profiling in the criminal system with aspects such as the death penalty.
Many examples of racism in the criminal system are evidenced today. One example is during plea bargaining where the defendant is trying to save himself or herself from the death penalty. Making a plea agreement is one way of getting someone out of the death penalty. If the defendant pleads guilty, he or she will make an agreement with the U.S. attorney for something in exchange for the death penalty such as life...

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