Death Penalty in the Criminal Judicial System

Death Penalty in the Criminal Judicial System
People in death row in California in 2013
Over four, people have been convicted and charged with a death sentence
within the first few months of 2013. However, most of the people in the
death row in 2013 are Hispanic. The racial effect of the inmates under
the death row is an issue of concern to the stakeholders in the criminal
judicial system. There are also large number of people in the death row
in other states including 37 inmates in Kentucky, 195 death row inmates
in Alabama, and 80 inmates in Louisiana (California Department of
Rehabilitation, 2013).
Current executions in the United States since 1976-2013
A total of five executions have already been accomplished in a different
state, in the Unites States, within the few months in 2013. The total
number of executions in all states of the United States since 1976 to
2013 is 1,325. Texas has the largest number (493) of executions
followed by Virginia with a total of 110 executions. Some states
(including New York, New jersey, Kansas, New Hampshire, and the US
Military have not recorded any execution since 1976 in 2013 The Clark
County, (2013)
Ethnicity of offender vs. victims in parentage since 1976-2013
A comprehensive analysis of the proportion of the offender by race
indicates that 56 % white, 34 % black, 8 % Hispanic, and 2 % of the
other races. However, the percentages do not give proportions equivalent
to the respective races in the total population. Similarly, the
proportion of the victims shows a high percentage for the white 76 %,
followed by the Black American (15 %), Hispanic (7 %), and other races
(3 %) (Death Penalty Information Center, 2013). The data on the convicts
of the death sentence is skewed towards the Black Americans.
Freed death row inmates in the United States since 1971-2013
Several death row inmates have been exonerated after being proven
innocent of their prior charges. According to Death Penalty Information
Center (2013) convicts have been exonerated for three different reasons
including dismissal of charges (89), pardoning (7), and acquitting (45).
Federal and state remedies and financial compensation of exonerated
The inmates under the death row face several challenges including the
loss of job, freedom, reputation and separated from the families. To
this end, different state in the United States has varied legal
provisions for compensation of wrongly convicted persons in the United
States. Most of the previously convicted offenders have been proven
innocent through the DNA test or review of the previous sentences by
appeal (Cardozo, 2012). Different forms of compensation include
psychological (institutionalized), physical (medical), and financial.
Cost of the death penalty vs. Life sentence
Different studies have concluded that the death penalty is by far much
expensive compared to a life sentence without parole, but may be
administered to criminals of similar category. For instant, Jackson
(2004) identified that the cost of the death penalty is more expensive
by $ 183 than a life sentence without parole. Further studies have
indicated that the California have recorded the high cost of
administering death sentence that is $ 180 annually compared to the
budget estimate of maintaining the offenders in prison (Fagan, 2011).
Difference in crime rates in states with the death penalty and states
without the death penalty
The uniform crime reporting (UCR) is a program that was designed to
facilitate the generation of reliable crime statistics that could result
in effective law enforcement, management and operation (Potter, 2000).
Fagan (2011) identified that 90.9 % of the states without execution have
murder rates lower than the national average of 8.4. Some of the states
that uphold the death penalty and have crime rates above the national
average include Texas (12.1 %), Georgia (11.7 %), Florida (11.4 %), and
Louisiana (11.6) (Potter, 2000).
Current exonerations from the wrongful convictions for capital offenses
According to Bluhm Legal Clinic (2011) some of the suspected offenders
have been held on death row and others executed out of wrongful
convictions. Over 2000 wrongly, convicted inmates have been exonerated
within the last 23 years. The states of Illinois recorded the largest
number (101) of exonerates, followed by New York (88) in 1989-2011.
Mallory (2012, May 21) identified poor investigation, racial prejudice
as the major causes of wrongful convictions in the United States.
Evidence of racial bias during prosecution
There are several instances, which prove that the death penalty trials
are faced with racial discrimination in the majority of the states in
the United States. For an instant, a Cumberland County Prosecutor was
noted stating that the junior prospects (who were the offenders) lived
in a “black high drug” neighborhood during the Augustine’s case.
Augustine had been convicted of killing Fayetteville police officer Roy
Turner in 2001 Biesecker (2013).
The controversies surrounding the death penalty needs the concerted
efforts of the stakeholders including the lawmakers, law enforcers, and
participants in the criminal judicial system. The current study proves
thousands of people in the death row may have been wrongfully convicted
following racial prejudice or organized judicial gimmicks. The high rate
of murder cases in the states that uphold the death penalty, which is
above the national average, is sufficient evidence that the penalty is
ineffective and a scar in the criminal judicial system. This implies
that the stakeholders in the legal systems should explore the options
such as a life sentence, which may prove effectiveness and reduce the
cost of administering justice.
Biesecker, M. (2013). NC judge commutes 3 death sentences: cites bias.
London: Associated Press.
Bluhm Legal, (2011). Wrongfully convicted. Evanston: North Western
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, (2013). Death
row tracking system condemned inmate list. Sacramento: Division of Adult
Cardozo, N. (2012). Making up for lost time: What the wrongfully
convicted endure and how to provide fair compensation. New York: Yeshiva
Death Penalty Information Center, (2013). Facts about the death penalty.
Washington DC: Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved April 9,
2013, from
Fagan, K. (June 20, 2011). Study: Death penalty costlier than life
sentences. Retrieved April 9, 2013, from
Jackson, J. (2004). The forgotten population: A look at death row in the
United States through the experiences of women. New York: American
Friends Service Committee.
Mallory, S. (2012, May 21). More than 2,000 wrongfully convicted people
exonerated in 23 years research says. Retrieved April 9, 2013, from
Potter, G. (2000). The death penalty and general deterrence. The
advocate, 19 (7), 2-19.
The Clark County, (2013). The death penalty: US Execution since 1976.
Retrieved April 9, 2013, from