Essay on Death Penalty

Submitted By Steve223554
Words: 1823
Pages: 8

Death Penalty Gray Area “All persons born or nationalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State in which they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” According to the Fourteenth Amendment, no state has the authority to rob any individual of his right to life. In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. The death penalty, being a controversial subject, creates an uproar within the United States. Some people are for and some against. The guidelines having to deal with the death penalty are not in check for the United States’ justice system.
The standards for a death penalty have not been instilled into the judicial system causing biased judges or juries to cause a guilty sentence for a criminal on death row (Amsterdam 34). Without a standard to base the death penalty upon, judges are given too much authority and could give out the death penalty as they please being there are no guidelines. The judicial system feels as if guidelines for such a subject are impossible due to the complexity of the situation and the differences in each criminal case. This implication leaves the door wide open for arbitrariness within the judicial setting and thus giving judges too much authority within the court room. An abundance of flaws appear in the judicial system when it comes to sentencing with the death penalty. Arbitrariness is laced throughout the judicial system. Each judge, being a human being, has bias towards one subject or another. According to Anthony Amsterdam, Baltimore County, Maryland accounts for approximately forty-five percent of all death penalty cases, even though Baltimore County only has twelve percent of Maryland’s death-eligible murder cases (Amsterdam 39). In cases dealing with the death penalty, crimes are interpreted differently in situations with different people. The case of Flint Gregory Hunt unintentionally killing a police officer while driving a car while under the influence of drugs verses a rape and murder trial is an example of the differences in the justice system. He was sentenced to death for an unplanned heinous crime, while the rapist and murderer (with a planned crime) was sentenced a mere thirty years (Amsterdam 40).
Not only is arbitrariness apparent throughout the justice system through different cases, but it is also apparent in the statistical aspects based on race, gender, geography, and access to adequate counsel. As shown by statistics, those who murder a person of Caucasian descent are more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murder a person of African descent (Allen and Clubb 179). The race of the killer is not of significance in these facts. According to Quaker beliefs, the death penalty may constitute an outlet for acknowledged racist attitudes (American Friends Service Committee 25). Throughout history, the statistics show that African-Americans and Native Americans have been targeted for receiving the death penalty. In Table 8.4 of Race, Class, and the Death Penalty by Howard W. Allen and Jerome M. Clubb, the statistics show that African Americans were put to death at a significantly higher rate throughout a long range of years. From 1926 through 2005, in most every region blacks were executed more often than whites. Some of the rates were vastly differentiated, such as in the Mountain region from 1936 to 1945 having an average rate of execution of 2.4 for blacks and .1 for whites. The discrimination against minority groups, such as African-Americans and Native Americans, is quite apparent within the death penalty. Evidence of arbitrariness has arisen in different regions based on the