Criminal Justice and the Death Pentalty Essay

Submitted By KAnderson150
Words: 930
Pages: 4

Criminal Justice and the
Death Penalty

The death penalty has been a massive debate for many years with both sides showing great conviction and determination. There are just as many strong and compelling arguments against capital punishment as there are for it. Many of these arguments have been the focus of debates regarding the death penalty for many years and appeared again in the Frontline documentary, Angel on Death Row. However, within the documentary's transcripts you get to hear arguments from those who are involved in the legal system professionally, which, in my opinion, gave the arguments a little more validity. I particularly found the Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun commentary regarding the Supreme Court's decision to deny the review of the Callins v. Collins case in 1994 intriguing. He expresses his position on the death penalty in a uniquely and profound way. He begins by painting a vivid picture of the execution and then he is able to articulate the realities of our criminal justice system in a way that brings enlightenment to the myriad of flaws within the system. Which in turn illustrates that the decision of whether the death penalty should be abolished or not goes beyond the right or wrong reasoning or the moral and ethical positions of someone losing their life as a form of punishment for a crime they were found guilty of. The criminal justice system is far from just. Even at the beginning of the legal process, before you're arrested, prejudices and racism can increase your risk of going to jail. Racial profiling has been another big topic and remains to be an issue that needs to be resolved. Officers are trained to observe the behavior, mannerisms as well as appearance of people in the community. This practice known as profiling is often effective and a vital tool for police officers. The question is, however, where do you draw the line? When does profiling become racial profiling and tips the scales of justice? Many officers get conflicting messages regarding the use of profiling, "officially" they are told that racial profiling is not acceptable, but when being trained in profiling methods, race is used as a factor. It would appear to me that their code of silence is alive and well and they operate on a don't ask don't tell policy. Racial profiling in law enforcement is just the tip of the ice berg and it is seen in all aspects of the criminal justice system. Statistics show that since 1976, 35% of the defendants executed in the U.S. were black and 56% were white. In addition, today 43.25% of death row inmates are white and 41.80% of them are black (Criminal Justice Project of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., 2012). At first glance the numbers show us that there's not much bias, however, the racism becomes more evident when we look at the statistics a little deeper. For example, when you look at the statistics regarding people executed for interracial murders in the U.S. since 1976, 19 of them took place when the defendant was white and the victim was black, compared to 225 executions of black defendants convicted of murdering a white person (Criminal Justice Project of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., 2012). When you look at the demographic statistics of those who have the authority to decide who should be charged and who should not, the results are somewhat alarming. In a study conducted by Professor Jeffrey Pokorak it was revealed that only 1% of District Attorneys in death penalty states are black and only 1% Hispanic; the remaining District Attorneys were white and mostly male