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Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment Martin Ferretti 3/5/00 Capital Punishment Capital punishment was established in this country many years ago to punish those members of society which have committed horrendous crimes against fellow citizens and in a way to give the family of the victims a sense of peace. Various forms of capital and corporal punishment exist around the world and in most cases are very closely related to the religion of the nation. I believe that capital punishment is an atrocious institution and should only be used in those very few cases where rehabilitation is not an option because it does not help the criminal become a member of society. It should be used only for those who kill just for the act of killing and for no other reason. The killer must be proved guilty beyond a doubt for this punishment to be used, and many times we find people on death row who are totally innocent of the crimes which have sent them to their deaths. Something is wrong with the justice system and it should be changed.

Around the country there is a serious deficit in funds for our schools and courts which obviously shows in the crimes rates around the nation. Lack of funds at schools, leads to kids finding a way of living on the streets, by stealing, dealing drugs, and sometimes killing. Lack of funds in the justice system gives us another problem. Many people who are innocent are sent to jail for years suffering for a crime they did not commit, and in the worst cases they are sent to their deaths. The law of this country is that everyone will receive fair and equal representation.

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Now, when someone is suspected of committing a crime, they are assigned a lawyer so that they may have their voice heard in front of the judge and jury and tried fairly. Is it fair that most of these lawyers works over a thousand hours and in most cases get paid only around two dollars? What kind of lawyer would work for this amount of money? The justice system is so poorly funded that it has no choice but to hire lawyers fresh out of college, or lawyers who can get no other case because of reputation, and throw them into the system to defend a poor guy with no other means of representation. Is it fair that the poor get such bad representation while the rich may get away with crimes simply because they can afford to pay for the best lawyers? Certainly not. To illustrate this point we must look at the case of Antonio James. He has been on death row at Angola Prison for nearly twenty years waiting for the death when he will walk down the hallway and enter the death chamber.

His death sentence had been previously postponed fourteen times and he was up for the next walk to the chamber. Mr. James had been in trouble the law as a young child growing up in the ghettoes of the south, but one day he was with the wrong guy and totally not in the control of the situation. Shots were fired and in the end, two people were killed, one two separate occasions. Antonio and two other men were arrested and tried for the robberies and murders but only Antonio went to jail for any significant time and was sentenced to death. His partners in crime walked out almost free because they testified that Antonio was the gunman on both occasions.

Antonio went to jail and years later he got a new lawyer, who discovered evidence that Antonio had not committed the murders. This kept Antonio alive for years until he was finally put to death. We then look at the case of O.J. Simpson. Simpson, also African-American, was a popular football star.

One day his ex-wife and her friend were murdered just outside of her home. Later Simpson was placed as the only suspect and he gave the police and the American public plenty of evidence that he was guilty of the crime. Simpson was found innocent despite the substantial evidence against him, but only because he could afford the best lawyers that could be bought. So what are the differences in the two cases? Both men were tried for murder, and both men were African-American, and yet one walked free. The issue here is money.

How could a judicial system that can be bought possibly be fair to all people? This country was founded on the words that “all men are created equal” and yet we treat this phrase as if only all white men or all rich men are created equal and this is not the case. If the judicial system is to work to its full extent then it should be color blind; especially to the color green. We also find cases where white defendants get away with crimes simply because they were white. A good example of this is the recently resolved Diallo case in the Bronx. If all or one of those officers were African-American or Hispanic, I’m not so certain the jury would have decided in the same way.

Even though much work has been done to stop racism there is still a long way to go before this country achieves the true equality which Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement dreamed of. Problems of the sort still persist throughout the country but in particular in the same. We must remember, however, that racism is not only a thing of the South. So how do we solve a problem as deep as this? We must find a way to revolutionize the system.

Every year, billions and billions of dollars are spent on military prowess and flights into space, while our education and judicial systems suffer and are worsened. People want quick answers so the government builds jails to get rid of all the “outcasts” of society, but people don’t realize that this only causes further problems and further expenditure of tax dollars. The only way to fix the judicial system is to start with schools. Properly funded schools with good facilities, faculty, proper maintenance, and proper books have shown to give great educations, but of course it all comes at a price. Institutions like Horace Mann and other prominent private schools spend thousands more per student and it obviously shows in the education of the child. Even public schools such as those found in prominent neighborhoods such as Scarsdale, are much better off than city schools simply because of property tax differences.

I propose that less is spent on military and space plans and more on education so that every child in the country may have enough knowledge to compete in the work place. This competition would only better the economy in time. With a more educated population, the crime rate would inevitably go down. The next step would be better funding of the judicial system. It is not fair that poor defendants who cannot afford their own lawyer receive a sentence because their two dollar an hour lawyer fell asleep during the hearings. Proper funding of courts would allow these poor defendants to have a better chance of proving their innocence and that if they are guilty that it may be proved beyond a doubt.

Jails are being produced at an incredible rate because of lack of funding to schools, but people don’t want to change this new institution because it generates jobs in poor towns. We as the American people, must begin to look to the future of our children and …


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