Impacts Of Death Row Essay

1667 words - 7 pages

Impact of Death Row on the Correction System



When an individual is found guilty of a criminal offense and consequently sentenced to death, the individual is held in death row pending any habeas corpus or appeals, and if these fail, until the convict is convicted. Those opposed to capital punishment have contended that the isolation of a convict and the uneasiness over his or her destiny constitutes a kind of mental depravity and that long-term death row convicts are particularly prone to become mentally unstable. This condition is commonly known as death row phenomenon. In severe cases, some convicts may try committing suicide. ...view middle of the document...

Death row is a term used in English Speaking countries to describe a section, often in a correctional institution that holds convicted persons that are awaiting execution. The terminology is also metaphorically to describe the process of awaiting execution, or to be “placed on death row”, even in institutions where there is no isolated facility for such condemned convicts. Research on death penalty continue however to be complicated, providing differing and even contradictory results. The disharmony in the studies done on capital punishment appears to emanate principally from the intense social reactions and imputations likely to arise from executions. As the principal court of the land, the Supreme Court is tasked with making decisions on policy issues regarding discrimination, appeal cases, and cases concerning due process (Galliher, 2002, p. 19). The Supreme Court has been on several occasions called upon to determine appeals of capital cases in the past few decades. Although it is not pertinent to discuss all the cases brought before the Supreme Court, it is essential to point out a few famous cases.
The 1972 court ruling on capital punishment predicted a brief halt to the death penalty to give the states ample time to review statutes to impart procedural bulwark against unreasonable application of capital punishment. This ruling gave rise to one of possible two outcomes. The first outcome was the administration of a “compulsory” death sentence for specific crimes. The second outcome involved “discretionary” application of capital punishment in line with guidelines provided by state statutes (Clay, 1990). After the 1972 Supreme Court ruling, thirty-five states enacted new legislations to permit the use of death sentence for specified crimes. In similar subsequent rulings, the court went ahead to explain the procedure set forth in the Furman case. In the Roberts v. Louisiana and Woodson v. North Carolina cases, both of 1976, the court nullified the state statutes that required compulsory death sentence for specified crimes. It argued that the death sentence for the commission of first-degree murder was against the constitution (Hartman, Mersky & Tate, 2004, p. 578).
Does capital punishment deter crime? The answer to this thorny question should not however alter our view on the issue. Although it may be a pressing issue, it should not form the foundation of our conviction. An objective assessment is therefore necessary to evaluate its effectiveness as regards whether or not the application of capital punishment is a deterrent to crime. Crime rates have been on the increase for a while. Our society is becoming a violent one as its moral and social fabric disintegrates (Bhattacharyya, 1982, p. 24). Although the increase in the crime rates may be due to a raft of other factors aside from the issue of capital punishment, the occurrence of crime in areas where it has been sparingly been implemented is a sign enough of its...

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