The Death Penalty is unjust
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However, today we have seen an ever so small silver lining. The state of Texas has pardoned a Black man on death row who had been sentenced to death even though he had never pulled the trigger. It is a baby step towards undoing all the harm done by Texas's overzealous prison system, but it is one that is greeted with relief and jubilation by those who follow the struggle against the death penalty.
In the United States the death penalty is an issue that is wrought with controversy and emotions run high on both sides. It is impossible to deny the racial dimensions of the argument. The states who commit the most execution are southern states with a history of Slavery and White supremacy, and an overwhelming majority of those executed are young black men of color. The justice system in Southern States is overwhelmingly Black defendants up against White juries, judges, and prosecutors. Due to the prevailing racial segregation and history of slavery in these states it is fair to assume that these men were not given a fair and equal trial. In fact, since the advent of DNA testing and more sophisticated forms of criminal investigation, many Black men who have been put to death have had their innocence proven, posthumously. In Texas, for instance, where hundreds of Black men have been executed for killing White people, not one White man has been executed for killing a Black man. In states where hate crimes are rampant, this is a disconcerting trend that points to more lenient laws and punishment for Whites than for Blacks. In Southern states, there are two systems of justice, one for Blacks and one for Whites, and they are certainly not equal.
In the United States, 41.1% of people executed are Black, 27.9% are Hispanic, and a mere 30% are White. There are alarming numbers when one looks at the demographic make-up of the United States, which is approximately 75% white, 12.3% Black, and 12.5% Hispanic. It is clear that Blacks are being executed at a rate much, much higher than Whites. The death penalty for Black Southerners is the final blow to disenfranchised minorities from a legal system that is neither just nor equal. The trials are often heavily weighed by predominantly white juries, who already view the defendant as guilty simply because of the color of his or her skin. The pull towards being tried as "guilty" is unaccountably higher for Blacks than it is for Whites. And, on top of being more likely not to receive a fair trial and to be charged as guilty, Blacks also suffer harsher punishments than Whites. Oftentimes Blacks are penalized by longer prison terms or even execution for a crime that a White defendant would have walked away from unscathed. This happened to be the case recently in Jena, Louisiana where six Black students are being charged for aggravated battery for beating a White boy, when just days earlier a group of white boys beat a Black student with no legal repercussions.
In the Southern states it is fair to say that there are two systems of Justice- one for Blacks of biased trials and harsh punishments, and one for White southerners that is much more lenient. The unequal justice system in the Southern United States is a stain on our national legal system. Although there are a few places in America where a Black defendant could hope to be given a fair and just trial, there are many states and laws pushing to equal the balance and provide real justice for all Americans, the overwhelming trend in America one of racism and unfair trials.
The use of the death penalty in America is one that weakens our international reputation, and makes our claims of being the givers of freedom and democracy ring empty. The institutionalized racism in America is, in many ways, more readily visible to those looking from the outside in, and because of this, our justice system has acquired an infamous air of cruelty and racism for those in the international community.
The distortion of justice by racist judges, juries, and racist institutions also are harmful to the victims of violent crimes. In looking for justice for their loved ones, they often stand-by as an innocent man is executed, and the guilty man walks free.
The United States, and the southern states in particular, are in dire need of third-party oversight. Organizations like the ACLU and the NAACP are key in fighting against the current of injustice, but not until the government and justice system themselves recognize the problem and employ a watchdog agency with overriding powers, the situation will never fully improve.
The danger that innocent people will be executed because of errors in the criminal justice system is getting worse. A total of 69 people have been released from death row since 1973 after evidence of their innocence emerged. Twenty-one condemned inmates have been released since 1993, including seven from the state of Illinois alone. Many of these cases were discovered not because of the normal appeals process, but rather as a result of new scientific techniques, investigations by journalists, and the dedicated work of expert attorneys, not available to the typical death row inmate.
This report tells the stories of people like Rolando Cruz, released after 10 years on Illinois's death row, despite the fact that another man had confessed to the crime shortly after his conviction; and Ricardo Aldape Guerra, who returned to Mexico after 15 years on Texas's death row because of a prosecution that a federal judge called outrageous and designed to simply achieve another notch on the prosecutor's guns.
In 1993, the Death Penalty Information Center was asked by Representative Don Edwards, then Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, to prepare a report on the problem of innocent people on death row. The Center 's report listed 48 defendants who had been released from death row in the prior 20 years because of subsequently discovered evidence of innocence. The growing number of additional cases in the ensuing years has prompted us to issue another report.
This report particularly looks at the dramatic narrowing of the opportunity to appeal and to raise newly discovered evidence of one's innocence. The federal funding for the death penalty resource centers, which helped discover and vindicate several of the innocent people cited in this report, has been completely withdrawn. Some courts have now taken the position that it is permissible for executions to go forward even in the face of considerable doubt about the defendant's guilt.
The current emphasis on faster executions, less resources for the defense, and an expansion in the number of death cases mean that the execution of innocent people is inevitable
Vote Neg to save lifes, protect our reputation, and to save us from becoming even farther racist as a country,
Cblank10 forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Justinisthecrazy 7 years ago
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