Abolishmentof the death penalty in America Everyyear, many prisoners on death row have to choose their last meal before theyface death. It is a very serious decision for inmates to make because it is thelast thing they got to savor and enjoy since they are moments away fromexecution. Prisoners on death row, pay with their lives for the crimes theyhave committed.
Instead of granting life sentences to prisoners, federal courtspunish prisoners by executing them. It is a long and difficult decision forstates to make, but based on the unjust manner cases are presented regardingprisoners of color, there is a large number of innocent prisoners put to deathrow. This form of punishment is cruel and unusual. It is cruel because it is abarbaric punishment that has no place in the 21st century. It isalso unusual since America is the only 1st world nation that stilluses the death penalty.
The death penalty is also given to racial minoritiesthe most. Theissue of racial bias is greatly present in capital punishment cases. The issueof putting someone with a mental disability on death row is always apossibility.
Although, the Supreme Courthas ruled executions of the mentally ill illegal, there stands a chance thatthe execution will end up happening. Considering all the possibilities of racial injustice and mental healthstigma, the death penalty should not be used as form of punishment in the U.SIn the Criminal Justice System, the death penalty does notrespect the 8th amendment. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessivefines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”, states ignorethis part of the document and continue to take the lives of many prisonersevery year.
The rise of botched executions throughout the decade is anotherreason on why executions are a form of cruel and unusual punishment. “The United States is one of 57nations—China, Pakistan, Iran, India and Saudi Arabia among them—that have notabolished or otherwise declined to make use of capital punishment.” (Clarke,2017), This statement written by Kevin Clarke, puts into perspective thathaving capital punishment is not a characteristic of a successful developednation since it still holds on to a barbaric and ancient tradition that has noplace in this new century.
Innocent men have been put on death row as a result of having an unfairtrial. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since1973 over 156 inmates have been found innocent and were released from deathrow. America failed these 156 innocent men, they serve as a reminder that thereare flaws within the system that executes many people every year. “As long as thedeath penalty remains a legal punishment, wrongful convictions and executionswill be something with which we all — with the tragic exception of thoseexecuted — must live.” (Blume, 2016). Many Prisoners are put on deathrow despite the doubts some people have about their culpability. “The US experience indicatesthat no matter what the legal resources invested and no matter how robust thelegal system, the death penalty is always a highly charged political realitymarked by unavoidable, macabre aspects which pervert the legal system andundermine the legitimacy of state power over the individual.” (Brennan, 2015).
While somestates have abolished the death penalty, many continue to execute prisoners inlarge numbers. Due to the large number of prisoners put on death row, there arenow cases that have emerged that prove a man’s innocence and their wrongfulconviction. The rising number of exoneratedmen proves that death penalty cases are not handled serious enough by statecourts.
“Absent effective and properly funded counsel and judges who apply theAtkins properly, these people remain at risk of being wrongfully convicted andexecuted” (Blume, 2016). People mostlyat risk of being wrongfully convicted have so far mostly been people of colorand the mentally ill. The death penalty has long been applied to minorities more than whiteAmericans.
The bias that exists within death penalty is crystal clear based onthe fact that more African Americans are put in death row. The racism in death penalty cases stems fromboth the race of the victim and the race of the perpetrator. Although theSupreme Court pushed for fair executions that would not target minorities inGregg vs Georgia, more people of color are being put on death row this yearalone. According to ACLU, “People of color have accounted for a disproportionate 43 % of totalexecutions since 1976 and 55 % of those currently awaiting execution”.
It isclear that minorities are not offered equal justice and representation in theAmerican criminal justice system especially in death row trials. Race hasplayed a big factor in the death penalty, and it should be abolished for thisvery reason. Most Americansagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Atkins vs Virginia that stated,individuals with mental disabilities should not be executed. Mentally illindividuals that are not capable to understand right from wrong are notsentenced to death, but cases of some being executed exist. Many mental healthorganizations have found that some prisoners on death row suffer a form ofmental disability.
There is a record of dozens of prisoners suffering frommental illness being executed. “At least 12 of the 20-people executed and 11 of those sentenced todeath in 2016 showed evidence of serious mental health problems.” (Clarke,2017). Many states have passedlegislation that prevents mentally disabled criminals to receive the deathpenalty and receive a fair punishment. All states should follow and passsimilar legislation because it is very important to ensure human rights tothose mentally incapable of knowing right from wrong. As Cushing wrote, “My opposition is not rooted in what an execution does to a condemnedprisoner but in what a system that embraces the ritual killing by governmentemployees of an incapacitated prisoner does to me—to us, as individuals and asa society.
” (Cushing, 2015) States should analyze every inmate before grantingthem the death penalty, because they can sentence a mentally ill man or womanto death. Despites the reasons of the death penalty being cruel and unfair,supporters of the death penalty still believe it is justifiable for enforcingjustice. Some claim that executing a murderer will deter other individuals fromcommitting the same crime.
This has been proven a false accusation, since thereis still crime happening every day in the U.S. Supporters of the death penalty in no way believe it is a form of crueland unusual punishment and promote it because it is and end to a problem. However,it proves that is used carelessly by some states who wish to bring down thehammer of justice in an uncivil way. Other supporters of the death penalty argue that criminals who commitmurder on an innocent civilian must pay with their life.
There is overwhelmingamount of evidence shows the death penalty does not serve justice properlybecause of all the factors that are not taken into account during a deathpenalty trial. Representation of the accused is also important to considerbecause most individuals that are granted the death penalty are poor and didnot have the opportunity to have great defense representation and could possiblyput an innocent man on death row. It is a tragedy that innocent and mentally illindividuals have been executed in the last decade, therefore there should be anationwide abolishment of the death penalty.
It has no true benefits, andcontinues to demonstrate that it is a flaw in the justice system. It is crucial for the U.S to finally abolishthe death penalty because it is a form of cruel and unusual punishment thatspecially targets minorities.