The Issue of Bias of Capital Punishment

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In a lot of crime shows, especially the ones you watch non stop on netflix, The death penalty may seem like an unbiased, clean and quick process. In reality, it is administered unfairly, biased, takes many years to complete, and is slow and costly. You may think that only the absolute worst people receive the death penalty and the criminal justice system is right in convicting these many people to their deaths, but in many cases it is administered in the wrong.

The views you have on race in the equation is pretty biased and racist. Most of the crime shows you watch shows pretty much all white males receiving the death penalty. When in reality, for the exact same crimes, blacks and other minorities are more likely to be sentenced to death. To be true, shows should have a lot more black people being sentenced to capital punishment. It may seem racist, and that is because, surprise. It is. It’s true. Being a certain race can help you be spared or condemned. On top of this, offenders who kill white victims are more likely to receive the death penalty than those who kill minority victims. This was found in the case Sorensen vs. Wallace (1999). In this case, it was discovered that a prosecutor is a lot more likely to file first degree murder, and ask for the death penalty, when the defendant was black and the victim white. These shows never brush up on the factor of the victims race. They never go into that kind of detail in fear of backlash. Nevertheless it happens. When are certain people's lives more valuable than others? And You may say it is fair because of a jury by peers, that our wonderful country offers. However, death sentences for blacks is 2.6x higher if the jury is mostly white. Even with a jury of their peers as in more of the same race and status, you must remember that the death penalty charge is being brought about by an already racially biased criminal justice system. And touching up with one of the final examples relating to race, Black people on death row are killed much faster, with a lot of white offenders never being killed of at all, again, because of their skin color. Even in a time where race is a sensitive topic and people are striving for equality, this continues to happen behind our backs. Someone's race isn't a reason to ensure a quicker death.

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Not only is race something that makes the fairness of the death penalty untrue, a person's sex is also a factor. You can agree with me that to prevent backlash crime shows usually always have a male defendant. This is already depicted by crime shows. This, not intended this way, has a degree of truth. Men are many times more likely to be sentenced to death. Men made up 98.2 percent of all people sentenced to death in 2009. It seems it is reserved almost exclusively for men. And men do not commit 100 percent of all murders. If a man does the exact same crime as a woman, he is more likely to be killed. Not only this, but men who kill female victims are 3.8 times more likely to be sentenced. In these cases, the prosecutors where 5.8 times more likely to receive the death penalty. Fairness for all should be a given, and not based on what the court identifies as men. The numbers do not lie, your gender is a biasing factor.

Touching on a smaller sector, Not only is someone's race and sex a possible death sentence, but if someone is older or younger could have different chances of being given capital punishment. Unless you are watching a specialized crime episode such as child murderers, you most likely will not have come across this. In a 2004 study, it was discovered that defendants over 25 years of age were twice as likely to receive the death penalty. To add to this, the older the defendant is when sentenced, the more likely it is they will be killed. But fair enough, the odds of a defendant receiving the sentence is 6.6 times higher if they murdered a child. You cannot deny that killing a child is a worse crime, however, in order to be fair, they should be treated more the same.

Now different crime shows or episodes you watch may have their own location settings, however, It is rare, if ever, for the geographical location to make an obvious effect on the defendant's sentence. A realistic one would hand out most of the death penalties in only a handful of states. Not because there was more murders, because they are more likely to give someone capital punishment. Not only does one's race, sex, and age factor into the unfair distribution of capital punishment, but the area you live in may have its own laws and death methods relating to the death penalty. It is not equal. 34 states and the military practice capital punishment. 16 others and DC do not. Nothing I have said even applies to someone who isn't sentenced to death because its not legal to kill them in their location of prosecution. Not surprisingly, Texas had half of all people in the U.S. sentenced to death in 2009. It handed out much more frequently (percentage wise) than most other states. Each state, city, or even county may have a different culture, be more biased than the other, with its law enforcement, prosecutors and jurors all having these biases.This results in more people being sentenced or spared. For example, in Texas’s city Dallas, more death sentences (percentage wise) where handed down than in Houston. Not to mention that in studies of murder cases in two states, Death penalty was more likely to be imposed if it was being conducted in a more rural area. (Ohio and S.C). In other states such as nebraska, this was flipped. It is not fair that based on the area you live in you will be treated differently. To be equal and fair, It should be the same throughout the state, if not country.

The final statements I have to address to you are special interests, errors, and general issues in the handing out of death penalties. It may happen quickly and seem very professional from what you see behind a screen, but in reality, It is incredibly expensive, abhorrently immoral, barbaric, and biased and unfair. Take utah for an example. The firing squad is still an option. That is incredibly messy and seems to be cruel and unusual to most. We do not live in the 1800s. Unfortunately, about 64 percent of the United States still supports the death penalty, but due to media, Movies and T.V, and other influences they remain uninformed on the realities of it. It seems to be the public's favor and interest in it keeping it alive. If someone with a life sentence is found innocent years later, they can be released. However, if someone who had been killed off long ago is found innocent, they will never be able to experience freedom. They died thinking everyone they knew thought them to be a murderer. The people who are lucky, for example, can be released while on death row. Since 1973, 138 people who found innocent and released. This doesn't mean they are innocent, but it means they were taken of death row, charges were dropped, or they where dismissed. The courts, in a staggering 7 of 10 cases, made serious errors that resulted in sentencing. Errors can include poor police investigations, police negligence, sabotage by intentional actions, perjure, and confessions from law enforcement manipulation.

In reality, the death penalty is not a fast and fair process. It is full of racism, sexism, bias, negligence, unfair practices, and much more. There is a lot more to it then being loaded up into a cop car, having a commercial break, then coming back to the announcement that they've been “sentenced to death” . The perception you receive from most crime shows will not in reality, give you a healthy perception of our criminal justice system. All in all, if crime shows where accurate, black men would be most of the ones sentenced to death, and it would show all of the problems and biases I talked about. And I can guarantee, if they depicted this, peoples opinions would change quickly and it would reform to become a better system. It is important to review it yourself so in the future we as a society can address this issue more fairly and eventually work to revise it with an end product without all the problems we have with it now. To conclude, mother, ask yourself, how many unfair deaths will it take before people finally treat others equally?

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The Issue of Bias of Capital Punishment. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
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