Death Penalty and Racial Prejudice: Pros and Cons of the Method

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In 2019 alone, twenty two men have been brutally murdered in seven states in America (DPIC). For every person a special group had gathered to debated upon whether or not these men and women were worthy of a life or if they could be sacrificed for the good of the order and better their people. Though this cult like plague is not practiced all across America. In a set few states these heartless humans are free to set someone to death with the permission of the government to do so publicly. The death penalty is a crime in itself to murder humans for their crimes no matter how bad it was. It is morally incorrect to have an eye for an eye when we could rehabilitate and make a criminal a functional member of society instead, whether or not a person is worthy of living a life or to be put to death should not be in the hands of other men and women. But that is not how America works.

Innocent victims have ended up on death row for crimes they have never committed, who knows how many innocent people have been murdered for someone else’s unfortunate choices. This is one of many major flaws in the death penalty. Once there is suspicion of murder, the defendants do not get to explore the possibility of innocence. In some cases there could be little to no evidence of the defendant being the culprit other than their skin, time and place, false statements, or history.

Robert Pruett is an unfortunate example of this, Pruett was a victim of a false execution and framed for the murder of a correctinal officer. Officer Nagel had written up Pruett for eating his lunch in an unauthorized area of the prison. But shortly after this encounter, “Nagle was discovered with a bloody shank and Pruett’s torn up disciplinary report next to his body.”, because Pruett was the last to be seen with him and his report had been torn up with him- Pruett was the prime suspect. In the evidence that was found, the DNA that was collected was tested to see if it matched Pruetts, but the court found it to be “‘inconclusive’ and denied him a stay of execution to further review the evidence in his case.” And to further help the case “The prosecution in Pruett case relied heavily on testimony from the defendant’s fellow inmates. But, unbeknownst to the defense and the jury, the state had made promises to inmates who testified against Pruett.” The average Joe could see the flaws within this system of prosecution. A key witness in the murder was told by a corrupt officer - who was working with the a very prominent gang within the prison - if he does not comply and say Pruett committed the murder than he will not be moved to a prison closer to his family(Nathalie Baptiste).

Pruett’s story, in any other case would have came to an end, but thanks to his lawyer his did not, later the DNA was debunked to have no correlation to Pruett and they had gained a confession from the witness confirming Pruett’s innocence(Nathalie Baptiste).

Though it is understood that while he was framed, the court had no way of knowing this prior to his execution. Measures could have been made to ensure that people like Pruett would be protected and his life would be spared. Nonetheless, the scenario did point to pruett as the prime suspect, it was ignorant to assume he still did the crime when the evidence said otherwise

By this point it was too late for Pruett to be saved, but his story and many others should help open up the public’s eyes to the flaws and shortcuts the court makes so they can have an excuse to murder. To ignore it is to say that we do not care who we execute, and if the victim was innocent or not does not matter because justice was served. Justice should be made for the executed, the court is no better than the people that murder when killing bystanders for crimes they might not have committed.

Certainly by now there should not be any discrimination against minorities in this country and in the court rooms since we are all equal and respect each other here. Well, The death penalty is still very racially biased and unfair to minorities. Often times a person's race does play a part in wrongfully being accused of a crime. Black men are seven times more likely to be convicted for a murder they did not committe compared to white men. A decision for a black man would be made quicker compared to if he was white they’d take longer to way the options(Amari Jackson). Out of the countless problems there are with the death penalty, one that stands out is race. The color of your skin should not determine your innocence. Yet it does and the lighter your complexion the more likely the court will have mercy on you.

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When determining the death penalty, the defendants must take a test to see if they qualify as being considered mentally ill. This is done so they do not put a mentally ill on death row when they can take care of that other ways. The concern with this is, ”Black or Latino defendants who, if they were White, would be considered intellectually disabled and ineligible for the death penalty.” An IQ test is taken by defendants to see if they are intellectually disabled and therefore unable to be executed “However, in a cruel and unusual legal twist, it is this charge of racial bias in IQ testing that is now being used by a growing number of American prosecutors to ensure more African-American and Latinx capital inmates are put to death.” when taking the IQ test a racial adjustment is made to make minority scores higher so it can appear to be “fair” for everyone and execute these victims (Amari Jackson). To adjust someone’s IQ just to execute them raises many concerns with this method “‘The idea of racially classifying a person and then using ‘ethnic adjustments’ to increase his or her IQ score, thereby qualifying that person for execution, is logically, clinically, and constitutionally unsound,’ … IQ scores are affected by a variety of environmental factors ‘such as childhood abuse, poverty, stress, and trauma[, that] can cause decreases in actual IQ scores.’”, to make up for these lower scores minorities have been given extra points by about 5 to 15 points to make it “unbiased” and to qualify defendants of color as eligible for execution and not intellectually disabled. While doing this white defendants scores can be lowered too on occasion. Whichever way this goes, the court should not add or take away from a defendant's score based on color and appearances alone. This discrimination is what makes the death penalty so unfair for minorities. When taking the SAT’s minority students don’t get a boosted score because they are African or Latinx, so why is this allowed in the courtroom where a man's life is literally on the line (Amari Jackson).

Another factor that is applied to give the death penalty to minorities is looking at their background and where they were from, analyzing this information gives prosecutors a reason to imply the death penalty to minorities creating a loophole to target these men and women further. An analysis of a defendant's social conditions and culture could cost them their life no matter their innocence. Unfortunately if a man was born in a bad neighborhood that was known for violence and crime, and the defendants skin happens to be a shade or two darker than a white man, the death penalty will be more encouraged to punish them whether or not they committed a crime. The punishment will end up being more brutally for these defendants (David Perry).

Though America is majority white, it makes sense for there to be more white than black or brown people in prison. But when the number of minorities is out of proportion to the general population, that doesn’t add up to well. 40% of the death row population is black.That’s more than the general population of 13.4 percent. This disproportion is because of the biased white defendants receive over minorities. Though this is out of proportion and unusual, it is true that minorities are forced to live in less fortunate communities and often lead to crime to help get by. Minorities on death row, lead deeper than what is seen. Being forced to live in communities where the only outlet is to work twenty times harder than an average American or result to crime is not fair and not their fault(Martin O’Malley).

Marvel cinematic universe is very immersive and amazing world where superheroes save civilians from supervillains destroying the world and wanting to snap away half the world for no reason other than, well,they are the bad guy. Here in the real world we don’t have super heroes… A major reason for the death penalty and prison is to stop criminals from committing more crimes and to rehabilitate these men and women to make a better world and communities; but the problem is that the death penalty does not deter crime and is ineffective to stopping criminals.

“Now it is up to voters to decide whether they want to replace capital punishment with an effective alternative. We have the chance to prevent innocent people from being executed, end the unfairness that pervades the current system, and save millions in tax revenues, all while improving public safety. In the words of Justice Blackmun, 'it is time to stop tinkering with the machinery of death.''

A statement that stands out to anyone who does Apose the death penalt, “states without the death penalty have consistently lower murder rates than states with it”(John Donohue). Though this could be coincidental it still stands as evidence and facts that the surrounding states without a death penalty have less murder rates. It is a stretch but is it not fair enough evidence to try a new route other than death by electrocution or drugged. It appears that even when faced with the possibility of death after a murder, there are still murdered happening, so something is not working right if there is no change in these states with high murder rates.

Criminologists Lee Sarokin believes that there is no effect in deterring criminals with the death penalty. “In my view deterrence plays no part whatsoever. Persons contemplating murder do not sit around the kitchen table and say I won't commit this murder if I face the death penalty, but I will do it if the penalty is life without parole. I do not believe persons contemplating or committing murder plan to get caught or weigh the consequences.” Lee brings up a good point that anyone wanting to do something illegal to wanting to commit murder would not sit and think “I will get caught” everyone believes they can get away. So how would the death penalty change that. Daniel Nagin, one of America's best scholars in criminal justice policies and deterrence made a statement about the way America punishes criminals, “The certainty of apprehension, not the severity of punishment, is more effective as a deterrent.''. Daniel Nagin and other very powerful and informed scholars believe that and have evidence that the death penalty has no effect in increasing or decreasing crime rates resulting in no effect.

If a professional on a subject believes it is not impactful to stopping crime than that should be Evident enough that we should change how we take care of criminals. To have an eye for an eye does not help our communities better in no way. Sentencing a man to die twenty years after he committed a murder seems meaningless, by then who knows, despite popular belief a person can change.

On the other side of this argument, it is understood that someone else’s beliefs may stray away from those who oppose the death penalty. And their beliefs are just as valid as anyone else’s; the main focus here though is to have this system be fixed and understand without discrimination or biases in the court room. I do agree and understand that there are people who do deserve the death penalty for the unbelievable and inhuman crimes committed. But when the crime is deeper than what’s on the surface - these people

In order for these problems to be resolved and stopped, America needs to change and not judge by looks and social classes to determine if a defendant is a criminal. More measures should be made to ensure innocent men and women don’t end up on death row. Evidence should be conclusive and otherwise should not be able to incriminate the defendant if there is no evidence and only suspicion. 

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