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The Alternative for Death Penalty

Uploaded by Tiger on Jun 17, 2001

Mead Shumway of Nebraska, was convicted of the first degree murder of his employer’s wife on circumstantial evidence and sentenced to death by jury. His last words before his execution were: “I am an innocent man. May God forgive everyone who said anything against me.” The next year, the victim’s husband confessed on his deathbed that he [the husband] had murdered his [own] wife (Radelet, Bedau, Putnam 347).

There are an uncertain numerous amount of incidents similar to the one depicted above, that have repeatedly occurred throughout the course of history. Two highly distinguishable figures in the area of capital punishment in the United States, Hugo Bedau and Michael Radelet, discovered in 1992, at least 140 cases, since 1990, in which innocent persons were sentenced to death (Hook and Kahn 92). In Illinois alone, 12 death row inmates have been cleared and freed since 1987 (Execution Reconsidered). The most conclusive evidence in support of this “comes from the surprisingly large numbers of people whose convictions have been overturned and who have been freed from death” (Bedau 345). One out of every seven people sentenced to death row are innocent (Civiletti). That’s nearly 15%.

The numbers are disturbing. Innocent people are becoming victims of the United States judicial system by its overlooked imperfections. A former president of the American Bar Association (ABA), John J. Curtin Jr., said it best when he told a congressional committee that “Whatever you think about the death penalty, a system that will take life must first give justice. Execute justice, not people.” Though some of the innocent death row inmates have managed to escape their execution, there are numerous others who are unable to overturn their sentence through appeals. Many cases of innocence go unheard and result in the unfortunate fatality of an innocent bystander. When the death penalty in 1972 was ruled unconstitutional in Furman v. Georgia, the Justices expected that the “adoption of narrowly crafted sentencing procedures would protect against innocent persons being sentenced to death”. But the chances that innocent persons have been or will be executed remain astoundingly high (Bedua 344). The United States justice system was formed on the premise that it should protect society’s general well being from any harm. Processes and procedures have been formed and created in order to ensure that everyone receives fair treatment, but the system has flaws that has let criminals back out on the streets...

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Uploaded by:   Tiger

Date:   06/17/2001

Category:   Capital Punishment

Length:   17 pages (3,906 words)

Views:   2643

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