Flaws in Capital Punishment
In a 1998 publication, “Innocence and Death Penalty in the USA,” Amnesty International reported that the enforcement of the capital punishment law is exposed to mistakes and innocent persons could be condemned for execution (Flaws, 1998). It is because most of the extensive legal safeguards have failed in preventing the potential wrongful death of innocent citizens. Over the years, the U.S criminal justice system has undermined the need for the fundamental safeguards leading to increased irreversible error and chances of lethal punishment (Breyer, 2016). The innocence of some of the accused has become an important issue in all death penalty debates. Based on this, the number of innocent cases has changed the public’s perception of capital punishment.
Nagin (2014) notes the evolution of the issue that has been escalated by the technological advancements in DNA forensics. The science has led to the discovery of the growing number of freed inmates and tragic mistakes. It is clear from the book that the risks exceed acceptable bounds when it comes to capital punishment. It is because from 1972 a total of 75 women and men on death rows have been released in the US (Nagin, 2014). Cumulatively, the inmates spent more than 1,000 years waiting for their freedom. Forensics should be used to rectify the challenges associated with the implementation of the capital punishment laws.
In recent years, exonerations have increased putting into doubt the reliability of the system. Stichter (2014) determined that the exonerations have caused dramatic reductions in death sentences all around the country. Over the past five years, death sentences have declined by 50% (Price, Coleman & Byrd, 2014). The reduction has taken effect in nearly every state with the number of inmates reducing and executions declining. The reduction has further affected public opinion with public support on executions showing significant drops. According to Dieter (2014), the official support for death row innocence has to increase significantly in the society. However, the legislators lag behinds when it comes to changing their capital punishment perspectives (Donohue, 2016). Even though token reforms in some jurisdictions have been passed, reinvestigations into death penalty rationales have clearly been avoided.
Hodgkinson (2016) also projected that innocence represents a big crisis in the US death penalty system. Public tolerance on these innocent deaths is noticeably reducing. Law enforcement, judges, legislators, and conservative commenters are emerging to challenge the penalties (Price et al., 2014). It is also becoming clear that most of the perpetrators are individuals that have gained public trust while the real victims are those condemned to death row. The legislators should implement relevant policies that seeks to address the issue of innocence of persons being condemned to death.
Van den Haag and Conrad (2013)’s research findings emphasized that capital punishment does not represent the highest level of moral standards and codes in the criminal justice systems. It is because capital punishment proposes for the killing of people as the means of ending violence and crimes in the society which is a wrong assumption. The main defect of the systems is the lack of a clear measure to determine the innocence of a person which is often influenced by political and economic powers (Santschi, 2015). From a Christian perspective, capital punishment hurts the divine images of the humans irrespective of their actions in the society. The Christian beliefs do not suggest that violent criminals should not be punished. However, it questions the use of capital punishment in dealing with the violent offenders in the society. It recommends that the society should come up with measures of rehabilitation in dealing with the causes of crime.
Williams (2016) reveals that another crisis is one of the constitutional dimensions. Public statements and legal opinions are demanding revised legal analysis systems to curb the illegalities of the numerous mistakes in capital cases. Cases, where the government officials admit to their errors, should be reviewed. To ensure the success of new reforms, monitoring of the reforms is necessary (Van den Haag & Conrad, 2013). Public awareness should be made of the costs that may be incurred in the implementation of the reforms. Constitutional lawyers and scholars should expound on the legality of capital punishment and a clear criteria for capital cases in the criminal justice system.
Research by Barry (2015) shows that some defendants are usually uninvolved in defense of their innocence in the accused capital cases. The cases may constitute those committed by the defendants by accident, self-defense, or mental illness. Other cases may involve the defendants in criminal homicides, but not necessarily first-degree murders (Wood, 2015). Although the crime is severe, conviction of the homicide as capital murder is erroneous. There are should be reforms to ensure that the crime punishment and penalties are appropriate to avoid any irreversible errors.
Brodsky, Neal, and Jones (2013) suggest that the death row system in the US may be subjected to more scrutiny or it may continue to decline. As the examples from the book demonstrates, there are numerous proposals on changes needed for a more reliable and secure system. However, it is easy for past mistakes to be overshadowed by high-profile crimes. Cochran (2016) found out that official disinterest is the biggest obstacle in the transformation of the capital punishment system. Today, people are aware of capital cases mistakes, and through polls, the public is even more aware of the innocent executions (Santschi, 2015). Therefore, the criminal justice systems should come up with extensive safeguards to counter the flaws in capital punishment.
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Breyer, S. (2016). Against the death penalty. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
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Cochran, D. C. (2016). A world without war. Commonweal, 143(1), 13.
Dieter, R. C. (2014). The future of the death penalty in the United States. U. Rich. L. Rev., 49, 921.
Donohue, J. J. (2016). Empirical Analysis and the Fate of Capital Punishment. Duke J. Const. L. & Pub. Pol’y, 11, 51.
Flaws, F. (1998). Innocence and death penalty in the USA. Amnesty Int’l, at.
Hodgkinson, P. (2016). Capital punishment: new perspectives. London, UK: Routledge.
Nagin, D. (2014). Deterrence and the death penalty: Why the statistics should be ignored. Significance, 11(2), 9-13.
Price, K., Coleman, S., & Byrd, G. R. (2014). Examination of capital murder jurors’ deliberations: methods and issues. Administrative Issues Journal: Education, Practice, and Research, 4(2), 83-89.
Santschi, M. (2015). Illinois murder jurisprudence in the absence of capital punishment. Ave Maria L. Rev., 13, 145.
Stichter, M. (2014). The structure of death penalty arguments. Res Publica, 20(2), 129-143.
Van den Haag, E., & Conrad, J. P. (2013). The death penalty: A debate. London, UK: Springer Science & Business Media.
Williams, K. (2016). Most Deserving of Death?: An Analysis of the Supreme Court’s Death Penalty Jurisprudence. London, UK: Routledge.
Wood, R. (2015). Quit the botching, Ohio: Exploring the flaws in the Ohio execution protocol and the need for change. JL & Health, 29, 95.