Issues Surrounding Death Penalty in Texas
Death penalty refers to a form of punishment in which an offender is put to death by the State. In the recent past, there has been great exposure on the different issues regarding execution of death penalties in United States, especially in Texas, where the highest number of executions occur. The supporters as well as opponents of execution of death penalty have raised these issues. This paper examines the subject of death penalty in the State of Texas.
The major issue surrounding death penalty regards the fairness of the trial process, which leads to condemnation. Opponents of death penalty argue that some people are incapable of accessing the right counsel, which results in misrepresentation in court and possible condemnation of innocent persons. The lack of access to good counsel could result from lack of finance by the accused person (“Associated Press” Web). Being represented by the right lawyer determines the chances of providing adequate evidence to ascertain ones innocence or guiltiness. Opponents of death penalties argue that some people may end up being killed while they are innocent if the trial is not fair or if the accused person’s counsel lacks expertise. This has raised the issue of the appropriateness of death execution for punishing offenders since the trial process may result in conviction and murder of innocent individuals (“American Civil Liberties Union” Web).
Another issue surrounding death penalty is diversity inconsistencies such as racial and gender. There have been arguments that the number of African Americans sentenced to death and executed is higher as compared to other races. Additionally there are perceptions that cases where the victim is black rarely lead to death row while those involving white victims often lead to death rows. Such statistics have led to questions regarding the evenhandedness of the justice system when dealing with capital offenses. On the issue of diversity, there is a problem regarding the role of gender in determining the penalty. In most cases, capital offenses involving men are likely to lead to death penalty as compared to those involving women. At times, this has created the notion that justice system favors women suspects (“American Civil Liberties Union” Web).
Another issue surrounding the death penalty in Texas is whether the punishment serves its purpose. Legal punishment is designed to correct the perpetrator of crime and or deter others from committing such crimes. There have been numerous debates regarding the effectiveness of death penalty in deterring other people from committing crimes. Opponents of death penalty argue that the offenders learn no lesson since they die (“American Civil Liberties Union” Web). Additionally, they claim that there is very little for the society to learn. Additionally, they claim that death penalty does not deter crime. Supporters of death penalty argue that the offenders are removed from the society preventing them from committing more crimes. Moreover, the supporters argue that death penalty acts as a warning to deter others from committing such crimes (“American Civil Liberties Union” Web).
There has problems regarding morality and ethicality of death penalty. The main question is whether death penalty is right or wrong, which has resulted in heated debates in Texas, where the penalty is commonly executed. Religious and human right activist groups have objected death penalty arguing that it is unethical and dehumanizing. Others, especially the conservatives argue that death penalty is right when the evidence is adequate and the crime committed is serious. The ethical issues have led to great division on the appropriateness of death penalty (“American Civil Liberties Union” Web).
The other issue concerning the death penalty regards how it is persecuted. In Texas, death penalty is often executed. There have been several methods used to execute the punishment. The initial methods of execution such as hanging and use of electric chair inflicted too much pain on the offenders. They were thus outlawed. They were replaced by less painful ways such as lethal injection. However, the frequent change of drugs used for execution of death penalties in Texas is still under criticism from the public (“Associated Press” Web).
Resolutions to the Issues Surrounding Death Penalty
Although there have been cases of erroneous execution, the Texas government has put in place some of the best strategies to ensure innocent persons are not executed falsely. There are laws that allow maximum scrutiny of cases leading to death penalty. There are expert legal teams involved in examining death penalty cases before the punishment is executed. The offenders are executed only after the state has proved beyond reasonable doubt that they committed the crime (“American Civil Liberties Union” Web; Schonebaum Web).
Another way that Texas State ensures that the trial process is just is through use of DNA tests as a source of evidence. This reduces the chances of erroneous execution of death penalty. Additionally, the Texas courts of Appeal and the Texas Court of Inquiry provide opportunities for unsatisfied suspects to appeal. Government-funded counsels represent suspects who cannot afford to pay their own counsel. Additionally, the offenders get the opportunity to confront witnesses and the right to fair trial. Moreover, a statute was passed in 1973 to standardize the way death penalty were imposed (Vollum, Longmire, and Buffinton-Vollum 522-526).
On the issue of diversity and execution of death penalty, the percentage of black Americans sentenced for death is high. However, there is clear evidence drawn from crime statistics in Texas that a large percentage of Black American is executed for other types of crimes as compared to other races. This demonstrates the high death penalty cases among the black is not attributable to injustice. Additionally, for every execution of a black American, several murders are deterred since it is possible that the offender would commit other crimes if not removed from society. On gender issues, the number of women sentenced to death is low since few women are involved in capital offenses (“Associated Press” Web; Vollum, Longmire and Buffinton-Vollum 530-533).
However, there are existing incongruities regarding execution methodology. The council involved in making prison decisions in Texas, agreed on the appropriate drugs to use for execution of death penalties. To resolve the issue of the morality behind death penalty, the Texas government passed a law to ensure that the execution process is painless and less dehumanizing. The convicted offenders are injected with a lethal drug and do not suffer of pain. To prevent the emotional torture associated with having to wait too long for the execution, Texas legislature passed a law to reduce the time spent in death row after criminals have been convicted (Cassell 14-16; Vollum, Longmire and Buffinton-Vollum 524-527).
My Support to Death Penalty in Texas
Death penalty should be retained and even executed but DNA proof should be used to proof the guiltiness of the offender. This would prevent erroneous convictions. For the justice system to be fair, the punishment given must be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime committed. In Texas, death penalty is reserved for very serious crimes such as multiple murders. For very heinous crimes, the only appropriate punishment is death. Although there is not enough evidence to show that death penalty deters others from committing crimes, there are chances that if it is banned, people would have no fear of committing crimes such as murder (Cassell 17-21; Schonebaum Web). Another reason why death penalty should be retained in Texas is to save the innocent citizens. When capital offenders are executed, they are removed from the society making it safer. Sometimes the death penalties are not executes. However, when not executed, offenders who have received death penalty may serve life imprisonment, which ensures they are eradicated from the society (Carson Web).
Just like in other systems, errors occur due to human imperfections. Therefore, the few instances when accused person have been executed erroneously should not be used to blemish the appropriateness of death penalty. Additionally, the legal system in structured in a way that ensures that the cases leading to death penalty are scrutinized seriously. Additionally, use of DNA ensures that the instances of erroneous sentencing are eliminated (“Associated Press” Web; Dieter Web).
The argument that death penalty is unethical is an issue of faith and is not based on facts. Death penalty helps in shaping the morality of the society since it depicts the wrongfulness of engaging in capital crimes. In most cases, death penalty is executed on persons who have committed murder offenses. Therefore, death penalty helps in instilling moral sense and warns potential offenders on the need to preserve human life. On the contrary, seeking to preserve the life of a person who has taken the life of another or others is immoral. The execution of death penalty in Texas honors human dignity since the method used is painless. Lethal injection ensures that the offenders pay for the brutal crimes they committed but in a painless way (Carson Web; “Associated Press” Web; Dieter Web).
American Civil Liberties Union. DNA Testing and the Death Penalty. 3 Oct 2011. Web.. 14 Nov 2012.
Associated Press. Support for death penalty still strong in Texas. NBCNEWS. Com. (2008). Web. .
Carson, David. Texas Execution Infromation Center Background:History of the Death Penalty in Texas. 2012. Web. . 14 Nov 2012.
Cassell, Paul. “In Defense of the Death Penalty.” IACJ Journal (2008): 14-28. Web. .
Dieter, Richard. A CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE: Americans’ Doubts About the Death Penalty. June 2007. Web. . 14 Nov 2012.
Schonebaum, Stephen. Does Capital Punishment Deter Crime? 1998. Web. . 14 Nov 2012.
Vollum, Scott, Dennis Longmire and Jacqueline Buffinton-Vollum. “Confidence In The Death Penalty and Support for its Use: Exploring the Value-Expressive Dimension of Death Penalty Attitudes.” Justice Quarterly (2004): 522-546. Online. . 2