Capital Punishment Should Be Abolished Essay

2743 words - 11 pages

"What says the law? You will not kill. How does it say it? By killing!"
-Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables
Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the practice of killing criminals or accused criminals (Issitt, Micha L.Newton, Heather.) In most Western countries still using this practice, death by lethal injection is most common(“Forms of Execution in the United States”) and in the United States federal capital punishment is mostly used in cases of first degree murder or murder in which the killer meant and planned to kill the victim or victims, but is also used for espionage and treason(Federal Laws Providing for the Death Penalty.) Many other Western countries have ...view middle of the document...

In 2001 Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor pointed out that ''If statistics are any indication, the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed.'' In reference to the 90 people on death row who were found to be innocent before execution between 1973 and 2001(“Justice O’Connor on Executions”.) That number has now been brought up to 143(“Innocence Database”.) That is at least 143 people who were going to die and would be dead if not for their exoneration. For all that is known, there could have been more innocent people on death row who ended up being executed. An investigation by a group of Columbia law students and their professor uncovered that it is more than likely that in the case of Carlos DeLuna, the state of Texas did execute an innocent person. Carlos DeLuna was put on death row and executed by lethal injection for the murder of Wanda Lopez. However, DeLuna contested this, even claiming to know the actual murderer, Carlos Hernandez. Not only did the two men look similar, the investigation was poorly handled, not taking up fingerprints, not examining footprints, nothing on the floor of the scene of the crime was forensically examined, the list goes on. Also DeLuna himself was not the “murdering type,” so to speak. While the typical murderer would run away from the scene, DeLuna was found cowering a few yards away from the corner store in which the murder commenced. The Texas death house chaplain of DeLuna’s case, Carroll Pickett, who had seen several people to their death became an anti-capital punishment activist after DeLuna’s case as he was so childlike and insisted he did not commit the murder, unlike the other the other cases Pickett oversaw. DeLuna’s case was the first and only that made Pickett feel as though he needed psychiatric help (Liebman, James S., Shawn Crowley, Andrew Markquart, Lauren Rosenberg, Lauren Gallo White, and Daniel Zharkovsky.)
This is not the only case, even in Texas, that innocent people were executed. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in Texas in 2004 for murder of his three daughters by arson. However Willingham always said he did not commit the crime, even under intense interrogation. The forensic analysis used in the case did not follow the guidelines put in place months earlier by The National Fire Protection Association and many nationally renowned experts suggested that the fire was not arson, but just a fire, the case was not handled well and the state of Texas most likely executed an innocent man (“The Innocence Project”.) The deaths of these two men as well as Ruben Cantu, Larry Griffin, Joseph O’Dell, David Spence, Leo Jones, Gary Graham, Todd Jones and Troy Davis were likely uncalled for because of faulty forensics, cases based on what only one witness saw, racism, not looking into all suspects, the list goes on(“Executed But Possibly Innocent”.) These unnecessary deaths would not have happened if not for the death penalty. If these men had been sentenced to life...

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