The Death Penalty Essay Research Paper — страница 2

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give, so that the police could ‘be done’ with the case. Not only was she coached, but she was also threatened with perjury if she failed to repeat this false testimony in court. And in even another case, Tibbs v. Florida , “there is strong evidence that they (police) jumped at the opportunity to build a case even when they knew all they had was totally unreliable testimony. (Radelet, 57). These are just a few synopses of the harsh role mistaken eyewitnesses and perjury by prosecution witnesses’ play in ruining the lives of innocent people by subverting the criminal justice system. Beyond false testimony, those in power in our country have tremendous control over who is indicted. “Cases of miscarriage of justice occur when community passion is aroused against vulnerable

defendants” (Radelet, 18). Unfortunately these cases occur quite frequently. They occur mostly due to politics, and social status. One infinitely famous case is that of Hauptmann v. State. It is so famous because the kidnapped and murdered victim was the grandson of Charles Lindbergh (the aviator). A ransom was initially paid (in marked bills) for the child, however the child was never returned. Two years later though, a marked bill was used in a gas station and the German immigrant who used it, Richard Hauptmann was arrested. “From that day until his death in New Jersey’s electric chair on April 1936, Hauptmann protested his innocence”. (Radelet, 100). Throughout this case, the prosecutors committed many wrongdoings. Most significant was that at that time, murder in the

course of kidnapping was not a capital crime, yet Hauptmann was still executed! The attorney general at the time, David Wilentz, was also the prosecutor, and thus pandered to the public by finding and convicting, an innocent murderer. Clearly, this German immigrant was wrongly convicted due to political manipulations against a defenseless minority. This was just one example of political motivations infecting the criminal justice system. The Mooney-Billings case (People v. Billings) is another example. In this instance, two men were murdered during a payroll robbery, and two Italian immigrants were arrested and eventually executed. They were anarchists, but U.S. citizens. Off the bench, the judge of their case, Judge Thayer remarked, “Did you see what I did with those anarchist

bastards the other day? I guess that will hold them for a while” (Radelet, 98). The lives of these two Italian immigrants were unjustly taken due to a biased judge. And that is supposed to be justice? Though there is unfortunately a vast array of cases that portray the unfair influence of politics, I do feel it is necessary to touch on one more aspect of community passion and the vulnerability of defendants. The state-sanctioned murders that occurred due to racial tension between the whites and African Americans are numerous and horrendous. What is the most disturbing of these cases are those in which whites are released for crimes while African American’s are routinely executed for similar crimes. The imposition of the death penalty and the harsh punishment is particularly

likely when the latter commits a crime against the former. In the Rosewood Massacre of 1923, over 150 African Americans were murdered, and not one of the white rioters was arrested. In the Shepard, Irvin and Charles v. State in 1949, Charlie Greenlee was arrested outside of a gas station for carrying a gun. However after being taken into the station, the police then notified him that he was wanted for assault, kidnap and rape of a white couple. The only link that Greenlee had to the murder was that he grew up in the town of the murder, and that he was an African American. Greenlee’s friend, Ernest Thomas, who was also African American, was seen sleeping in the woods, and was murdered by white rioters who thought that he was one of the culprits. Both of these men were innocent.

None of these rioters were even given as much as a slap on the hand. Beyond this, the police assumed that Thomas was one of the culprits and never pursued ‘the fourth culprit’ any further. Greenlee was sentenced to life in prison for a crime he did not commit, and Thomas was murdered. The reason the police felt so pressured to pinpoint assaultants were to appease the public. The Tuesday following the assault, Orlando’s Morning Sentinel printed a drawing that showed four electric chairs, and the caption for the picture read, “No Compromise!” (Radelet 104). Clearly the public mob had spoken and hence, Shepard and Irvin (the two other culprits) were sentenced to death, Greenlee was sentenced to life in prison, and Thomas was murdered. Community passion rang loud against