Title

The Future of Capital Punishment in America: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides

Presenter Information

Mariah Wells

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Room 137A

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

Capital Punishment, Inequality, Alternatives

Abstract

Capital punishment has left deep divisions in American society because of its moral, legal, and socioeconomic implications. After the US Supreme Court handed down the Gregg decision in 1976 citing that the issues of racism that plagued the system had been fixed and would be no longer a factor, the current system is a contradiction because of its tendency to sentence poor people and minorities as these people cannot afford the representation in court they truly need when ineffective representation can mean the difference between life and death. The systematic problems of the American death penalty include inequality encompassing racism, classism, and sexism; uninformed, guilt-prone juries; and underpaid and underprepared attorneys. These are the central issues which plague a system inflicting the ultimate punishment. Looking at existing research and data from various sources in the legal and social science fields, this report looks to address and examine possible solutions to a major problem: more poor, young men of minority groups are being sent to death row in staggering numbers when they may or may not be guilty. The ultimate mistake that can happen, when such systematic issues are ignored, is putting to death an innocent person, sometimes in a painful and inhumane way. While looking this troubling issue in depth, it is necessary to examine alternatives such as life without parole, how women factor into capital punishment, show patterns of arbitrariness in administration, and looking at what happens when execution day goes wrong must be included.

Faculty Mentor(s)

McMullin-Messier, Pamela

Additional Mentoring Department

Sociology

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May 15th, 8:30 AM May 15th, 8:50 AM

The Future of Capital Punishment in America: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides

SURC Room 137A

Capital punishment has left deep divisions in American society because of its moral, legal, and socioeconomic implications. After the US Supreme Court handed down the Gregg decision in 1976 citing that the issues of racism that plagued the system had been fixed and would be no longer a factor, the current system is a contradiction because of its tendency to sentence poor people and minorities as these people cannot afford the representation in court they truly need when ineffective representation can mean the difference between life and death. The systematic problems of the American death penalty include inequality encompassing racism, classism, and sexism; uninformed, guilt-prone juries; and underpaid and underprepared attorneys. These are the central issues which plague a system inflicting the ultimate punishment. Looking at existing research and data from various sources in the legal and social science fields, this report looks to address and examine possible solutions to a major problem: more poor, young men of minority groups are being sent to death row in staggering numbers when they may or may not be guilty. The ultimate mistake that can happen, when such systematic issues are ignored, is putting to death an innocent person, sometimes in a painful and inhumane way. While looking this troubling issue in depth, it is necessary to examine alternatives such as life without parole, how women factor into capital punishment, show patterns of arbitrariness in administration, and looking at what happens when execution day goes wrong must be included.