Death Penalty


Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper

The death penalty should be a last result action that is taken when one person is convicted of a crime involving the death of another person or living thing. The actions taken to kill someone on death row are horrific in, and to kill someone that didn’t commit the crime is an appalling thing to do. DNA is an efficient way to prove the absolute guilt of an individual. The death penalty should not be enforced without the opportunity of a DNA test.

For years, DNA has been an effective way of determining whether or not the death row inmates are guilty. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, which is the genetic coding in cells specific to an individual. Body fluids, semen, bone, and blood samples can all be tested by DNA. It is used to show connections to crimes and people. It can also prove that they are not guilty. DNA is only enforced in New York and Illinois. Ninety-five prisoners have been freed, and DNA freed ten of those. If DNA testing was enforced in all the states there would be less error in the legal system, and more guilty people would be behind bars instead of the innocent. Since January 1,2000, 3,652 inmates were on death row nationwide. Some of them could be innocent, and they deserve to have the right to a DNA test if there is evidence to test.

DNA testing has proven to verify a death row inmate to be guilty or innocent. In Oklahoma, Ronald Williamson and Dennis Fritz were released from the Pontatoc County Courthouse after being convicted of a rape-murder they didn’t commit. At one point Williamson was five days away from death. He was convicted of raping and killing 21 year old Debra Sue Carter. He had a retrial and was again sentenced to death by the evidence of semen samples and 17 hairs that were traced to him by primitive forms of DNA. DNA then tested the evidence, and it showed that he in fact did not commit the murder. DNA saved his life, and it was more accurate than two juries (24) people. Dennis Fritz was serving a life sentence for the same crime. He was a schoolteacher before the murder, and said that he wasted 12 years of his life in prison.

DNA has also proven the guilt of people as well. Robert Lee Massie was convicted of a double murder by DNA and died of lethal injection 21 years after his imprisonment. He spent 13 years in prison for the death of a woman during a robbery, got out, and killed a liqueur storeowner. He spent a total of 21 years in prison for both murders and was executed by lethal injection. The Supreme Court said that Massie was going to drop his appeals, and that the judge’s order to keep the curtains open for the whole procedure was to stay in effect. This shows that they were absolutely certain that they had the right guy. The five workers that injected Massie only took off their ID badges to keep their identities unknown.

The possibility for DNA tests was offered to 201 death row inmates, and none of them took advantage of the opportunity. Prosecutors say that this shows how accurate the trial was, and it proves that they really are guilty. Just because none of the 201 signed up for DNA tests, doesn’t mean that the opportunity shouldn’t be there. Someone along the way will have the need for it, and it should be available to him or her. People on trial should have the option before the final verdict is cast, because original evidence gets thrown away after a certain date, and they might want a test after the evidence is gone.

The many forms of execution are too horrific to put an innocent person through. One of these is the gas chamber. The gas chamber is called a pan, and there is a chair that the prisoner gets secured to. Hydrochloric acid enters the pan. The acid stops the flow of blood in the body. Eight oz. Of potassium cyanide tablets get added to the acid, producing hydrocyanic gas. The victim becomes unconscious after one breath of the gas, and they die within 16-18 minutes after. A crew of masked people decontaminates the body before it leaves the pan so that nobody else becomes exposed to the lethal gas. Another form of execution is electrocution. During electrocution, the body’s internal organs are burned. The person often gets thrown against the straps when the switch is turned. The flesh color changes, swells, and may even catch on fire. Urination and vomited blood are commonly found near the charred remains of the prisoner after electrocution. Witnesses always report that there is the smell of burning flesh. The most common means of electrocution is lethal injection. The prisoner is strapped to a gurney, and an IV is started in each arm. They get covered with a sheet, and thiopental sodium is injected which knocks the prisoner unconscious. Procuronium bromide then relaxes the muscles and they stop breathing soon after.

DNA isn’t the only way to prove if someone is guilty or not, but it is the most effective way. Testimonies can give evidence that someone is innocent, but they could also be false testimonies. “We’re so afraid the system will be embarrassed that we’ll let the innocent people stay in jail, and the guilty roam the street.” (Barry Scheck)

The legal system isn’t always fair to the prisoners. In the Roy Criner case, DNA tests on semen samples ruled him out as a suspect, but prosecutors still wanted him in prison. They said that he could have raped her while she still had the other man’s semen in her body. If that was true, the DNA would have picked out both men’s semen in her body and he would have been caught. “Inmates, especially those convicted on sexual-assault charges, wouldn’t be as harmed by poor legal council if they had an automatic right to DNA testing.”(Johnathan Atler and Mark Miller) Bush is not yet involved in the DNA debate. He feels that the system is efficient, and he wants the death penalty to be fast and accurate.

Although the death penalty has eliminated our world of some criminals, It has also taken the lives of innocent bystanders. DNA should be enforced to lower the number of wrongful convictions, and deaths. If the opportunity for DNA is offered all over the United States, there wouldn’t be as much doubt of guilt, as many wrong convictions, more of the guilty would be caught, and more innocent people could go on with their lives

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