The death penalty is a controversial governmental policy that dates back all the way to the 18th century. Most Americans are in favor of the death penalty despite concerns of it being unconstitutional. House Bill 70 was introduced on January 25, 2023, in the General Assembly to strike the Death Penalty. With implementation of this bill, the statutory penalty for first degree murder committed by a person 18 years or older, will remain imprisonment for life, with no parole, probation, or any time reduction. The death penalty is unfair and unconstitutional, therefore it SHOULD be abolished.
In the 1972 Supreme Court case, Furman v Georgia , the implication of the death penalty was deemed unconstitutional. Furman, while fleeing a crime scene, tripped and accidentally shot a victim resulting in their death. This Supreme Court case placed the death penalty on a four-year suspension until further guidance was provided through a challenging court case. This case, however, proves the questionability of the death penalty. If it could be found unjust for Furman, then that same principle could be applied to many other US citizens. Would this not be the same for a young lady who was raped and fighting to leave, that ended up shooting her rapist? Or maybe even the man who has been targeted by a gang that in the midst of fleeing, hits one of the gang members ending in his/her death. One thing that is important to keep in mind is, no one outside of the murderer can determine their intentions. The death penalty then allows the government to make the decision on one’s intention behind murder. This has proven to be an unfair advantage that opens the door for racially unjust discrimination.
According to Pew Research Center, 83% of Democrats agree that Black people are more likely than white people to be sentenced to the death penalty for committing similar crimes. It is no secret that black people are at a severe disadvantage in today’s political and justice system. The more pressing concern that House Bill 70 intends on eliminating, is the ability for that disadvantage to possibly take someone’s life. The color of a defendants and victim’s skin has a crucial role in deciding who receives the death penalty.
The US Military is the leading jurisdiction with the highest percentage of minorities on death row. Records show that black people are more than 10x more likely to be executed. In 2002, 12 people were executed, where the defendant was white and the victim was black. In comparison to the 178 people who have been executed, where the defendant was black and the victim was white. This flawed injustice system has no right to determine who should live and who should die.
In 2001 the New Jersey Supreme Court released a report which confirms that the state’s death penalty law is more likely to proceed against defendants who kill white people. The Department of Justice is fully aware of the racial inferiority of blacks, as there was a study conducted by the DOJ that revealed attorneys recommend the death penalty in 36% of the cases with black defendants and only 20% in cases with white defendants. These are the same people we are supposed to trust with our lives, the lives of our people, family and friends.
Those were just a few of the unjust scenarios in which the justice system has failed us. The death penalty should be abolished and the decision of life and death should remain in God’s hands. How are we supposed to trust this justice system with the lives of American citizens? The amount of innocent lives that have been compromised as a result of this justice system’s inadequacies is appalling.
The death penalty has been proven unconstitutional, and unjust. Life in prison is a sentence just as fair and effective as the death penalty. With life in prison, the defendant is forced to face the reality of his/her actions and deal with them. The death penalty offers a way out. How is one supposed to deal with the consequences of their actions?
Overall, House Bill 70 should be enforced and will ensure a brighter future for all American citizens.