Social analysis of death penalty/capital punishment. The capital punishment system is broken; why and how it is flawed.

Essay by whitkneeCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2003

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Our capital punishment system is broken, concerned more with expediency than justice and with appearing tough far more than being effective. Many factors contribute when making this statement such as innocence, morality, deterrence, cost, justice, cruelty as well as many others. This is a social issue that arises many questions. The first established death penalty laws date back as far as the eighteenth century B.C. in the Code of Hammurabi, which codified the death penalty for 25 different crimes. Ever since then, humans have held onto the death penalty to punish the criminals.

In America, 38 of the 50 states provide for the death penalty in law. The death penalty is also provided under U.S. federal military and civilian law. 66 prisoners were executed in the U.S. in 2001, bringing to 749 the total number executed since the death penalty was resumed in 1976. Whether someone convicted of a capital crime receives a death sentence depends greatly on the state or county in which the trial and conviction takes place.

Southern states, particularly Texas, hand down significantly more death sentences than those in the rest of the country. Texas alone accounts for one-third of the executions since 1976.

Since 1973, 98 prisoners in the U.S. have been released from death row after evidence emerged of their innocence of the crimes for which they were sentenced to death. These lucky interventions occurred almost always as the result of the efforts of students, journalists or pro bono lawyers, often only hours before a scheduled execution, and usually after the condemned had been on death row for over ten years. Some trials don't seem to be very effective if this many people were found guilty when in actuality they were not guilty. With new laws like the 1996 "anti-terrorism" law now strictly limiting...