Capital Punishment Essay

1379 words - 6 pages

Looking out for the state of the public’s satisfaction in the scheme of capital sentencing does not constitute serving justice. Today’s system of capital punishment is frought with inequalities and injustices. The commonly offered arguments for the death penalty are filled with holes. “It was a deterrent. It removed killers. It was the ultimate punishment. It is biblical. It satisfied the public’s need for retribution. It relieved the anguish of the victim’s family.”(Grisham 120) Realistically, imposing the death penalty is expensive and time consuming. Retroactively, it has yet to be proven as a deterrent. Morally, it is a continuation of the cycle of ...view middle of the document...

Also, the less that the death sentence is used, the more it becomes unusual, thus coming in conflict with the eighth amendment. This is essentially a paradox, in which the less the death penalty is used, the less society can legally use it. The end result is a punishment that ceases to deter any crime at all. The key part of the death penalty is that it involves death -- something which is rather permanent for humans, due to the concept of mortality. This creates a major problem when “…there continue to be many instances of innocent people being sentenced to death.”(Tabak 38) In our legal system, there exist numerous ways in which justice might be poorly served for a recipient of the death sentence. Foremost is in the handling of his own defense counsel. In the event that a defendant is without counsel, a lawyer will be provided. “Attorney’s appointed to represent indigent capital defendants frequently lack the qualities necessary to provide a competent defense and sometimes have exhibited such poor character that they have subsequently been disbarred.”(Tabak 37). With payment caps or court determined sums of, for example, $5 an hour, there is not much incentive for a lawyer to spend a great deal of time representing a capital defendant. When you compare this to the prosecution, “…aided by the police, other law enforcement agencies, crime labs, state mental hospitals, various other scientific resources, prosecutors …experienced in successfully handling capital cases, compulsory process, and grand juries…”(Tabak 37), the defense that the court appointed counsel can offer is puny. If, in fact, a defendant has a valid case to offer, what chance has he to offer it and have it properly recognized. Furthermore, why should he be punished for a misjustice that was created by the court itself when it appointed the incapable lawyer.

Even if a defendant has proper legal counsel, there is still the matter of impartiality of judges. “The Supreme Court has steadily reduced the availability of habeas corpus review of capital convictions, placing its confidence in the notion that state judges, who take the same oath of office as federal judges to uphold the Constitution, can be trusted to enforce it.”(Bright 768) This makes for the biased trying of a defendant’s appeals, “…given the overwhelming pressure on elected state judges to heed, and perhaps even lead to, the popular cries for the death of criminal defendants.”(Bright 769) Thirty two of the states that impose the death penalty also employ the popular election of judges, and several of these even have judges run with party affiliations. This creates a deeply political justice system -- the words alone are a paradox. Can society simply brush off mistaken execution as an incidental cost in the greater scheme of putting a criminal to death? “Revenge is an unworthy motive for our society to...

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