Friday, October 26, 2007
Socio-Ecomonic Issues and the Death Penalty
The death penalty and its use in the United States today are greatly contested. Many people believe that it acts as an injustice system and is biased—the death penalty unfairly affects those of low socio-economic status. A study in Virginia found that there was a clear connection between those who received the death penalty and the low quality state-appointed lawyers who defended them. Those who do not have enough money to pay for a private lawyer are therefore given one by the state. These lawyers are disproportionately found to be inadequate and many lose their license in the future. They are almost always undefended and understaffed, therefore those who are able to afford their own lawyers are more likely to avoid being sentenced to death. Those in favor of capital punishment argue that every defendant receives a lawyer regardless of economic status. They believe that the court-appointed lawyers are equal to those privately hired by defendants with money. However, this proves untrue when looking at the quality of the lawyers—many of the court-appointed lawyers have never handled a capital case before. There are only two ways to fix this problem: appoint lawyers who are experienced and can handle capital cases, or abolish the death penalty completely.