Capital Punishment Essay: Just Say No

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Capital Punishment: Just Say No

This essay will show that the United States is on an execution rampage. Since capital punishment was reinstated by the Supreme Court in the 1976 Gregg v. Georgia decision(Gregg), more than 525 men and women have been put to death by the state. More than 150 of these executions have taken place since 1996. 3,500 people are on death row today, awaiting their turn with the executioner. Capital punishment has existed throughout most of the course of our nation's history.

By the mid-1960s, however, public opposition to the death penalty had reached an all-time high, and the practice was banned by the Supreme Court in the 1972 Furman v. Georgia(Furman) decision. The Court held that state
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It does not deter crime, and the way it is implemented is grotesquely unfair.

Regardless of one's viewpoint about the morality or constitutionality of the death penalty, most people would agree that if we are going to continue executing people in the U.S., we should be doing it fairly and rationally. However, three factors, unrelated to the crime itself, greatly influence who gets executed and who does not: poverty, race and geography.

Lethal Injection for the Poor - The American Bar Association and many scholars have found that what most often determines whether or not a death sentence is handed down is not the facts of the crime, but the quality of the legal representation. The overwhelming majority of death row inmates receive substandard legal representation at trial. Almost all capital-crime defendants are indigent when arrested, and are generally represented by court-appointed lawyers, who are inexperienced and underpaid. The National Law Journal, reviewing capital cases in six Southern states, reported that defense lawyers are often "ill-trained, unprepared... [and] grossly underpaid."

Defending a capital case is time-consuming, taking about 700-1000 hours. In some jurisdictions the hourly rates for appointed attorneys in capital cases are less than the minimum wage, and usually much less than the lawyer's hourly expenses. Moreover,
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