The Death Penalty Essay Research Paper

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The Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper “The question with which we must deal is not whether a substantial proportion of American citizens, would today, if polled, opine that capital punishment is barbarously cruel, but whether they would find it to be so in light of all information presently available. -Justice Thurgood Marshall Family members of the wrongfully convicted, This letter is for everyone out there who has ever suffered. Anyone who has ever felt the infallibility of our criminal justice system. Anyone who believes that death is scary. And most of all? anyone who is humane. We are in the 21st century now. That means that we have had over 2000 years to realize that killing is inhumane and wrong. How is it that we can look back at the hangings that took place

merely a few hundred years ago and see the merciless and appalling acts of beheading, and not learn from them? And in a predominately Christian country, we still cannot learn from the death of Christ. He was of our first victims of the death penalty. After reviewing pertinent literature, I have written this essay in hope of letting those that have been hurt, know that there are people who care. And to show those who stand by indifferently, that ‘miscarriages’ of justice are acknowledged and cannot be ignored. In my opinion there are four factors (among the many) that are most significant in leading to the wrongful conviction of innocent people. These are, perjury by prosecution witnesses and mistaken eyewitness testimony, community bias and passion against vulnerable

defendants, failures in police work, and a predisposition for making the defendant fit the crime. I feel it is hard to differentiate between perjury and sincere (but false) testimony. Regardless, however, the significant role of false testimony is clear. The decision in the People v. Lindley (1945) is a vibrant example of such a case. In this case, a man came within a few hours of the gas chamber due to the second-hand words of a little girl. Not only could these words not be verified, but also the only evidence in the case was that of a young sheepherder who claimed to have witnessed the crime over an hour before it was actually committed. Fortunately, Lindley was not executed. He was, however, given life imprisonment, and eventually went insane due to the severe pressure placed

upon him. The most remarkable aspect of the Lindley case is the effect finances had. (Yes, in this day and age, money still can make or break the thin line between life and death in our criminal justice system). Lindley was sentenced to death until his attorney, Matthews, wrote to Erle Stanley Gardner, a wealthy and famous attorney. Gardner wrote to each member of the Supreme Court, the governor and the attorney general. Sure enough, a stay of execution was issued. Without the aid of a wealthy attorney, Lindley would have been put to death, because the police would rather close the book on a crime, than work to achieve the truth. The police took the eyewitness testimony given in Lindley’s trial as the truth, without further investigation. Clearly, in America, ‘home of the

free’, you can and will be put to death if you cannot afford a good attorney. Because in America, ‘eyewitness’ testimony is considered synonymous with the truth. Not only do victims make sincere mistakes concerning the identification of a suspect, but blatant lies, instigated either by the police or by a culprit to cover his own back, are an entirely different scenario. And yes, our country has witnessed scores of these fraudulent testimonies. In the People v. Zimmerman (1962) case, the key eyewitness, Hanover, gave false information under oath, so that the media would not correlate the name of his business with the murder. In another case, (defendants: Gladish, Greer, Keine, Smith), a woman named Judy Weyer was coached by the police on a testimony that she was supposed to