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3rd person essay,mla,12 point font, new roman. Our Second Discussion Board assignment is on the use of the death penalty in Texas. Any discussion on the death penalty is likely to ignite passionate opinions, but our focus will be on legal questions and implementation rather than moral or ethical questions. Using the readings and notes below, address the following question for your first response post: Is it possible to reform the Texas Criminal Justice system’s application of the death penalty or is it necessary to abolish its use altogether? Be sure to support your assessment using evidence and detailed explanations. Don’t forget citations, active links, use of images etc as needed. Remember focus on critical thinking and your own assessment of the facts, not your own personal views. A bit of background: The 8th amendment of the Bill of Rights prohibits government (both at the national and state level) from administering “cruel and usual punishment.” Constitutional scholars and jurists disagree as to whether or not the use of capital punishment is prohibited by the Constitution. The Supreme Court has made several rulings on this question: Furman v. Georgia (1972) The Court ruled that the use of the death penalty must show consitency in application. This ruling put into effect a 4 year moritorium on all executions while states with application problems revised their criminal justice systems. Gregg v. Georgia (1976) After following the ruling of the Furman case, Georgia revised its process and re-implemented the death penalty. The Court ruled in favor of Georgia stating the death penalty in and of itself is not unconstitutional. The determination of its constitutionality is in how it is applied. Since the Gregg v Georgia ruling, the Supreme Court has set out when the death penalty can not be used. While many of these discussions were not unanimous one, our system states that the ruling of the Supreme Court is the law of the land. Because this is a Texas government class, it is not relevant to our discussion whether or not the Court is correct or justified in its decision. Because of the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, Texas is obligated to follow these rulings. Therefore save any debate you may have with the Supreme Court for an American government course. Here are a sample of circumstances in which the Court ruled the use of the death penalty is unconstitutional: Godfrey v. Georgia (1980) The Court rules that the death penalty can not be used to punish crimes of ordinary murder. The death penalty can only be applied for capital crimes. Texas which, along with the rest of the country, halted all executions after the Furman case will reinstate capital punishment in 1982. Today under the Texas penal code, only a handful of crimes are identified as capital crimes. These include: Murder of an on duty police officer or firefighter Murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit a felony offense (e.g. robbery, rape etc) Murder for hire Murder of a child under the age of 10 Multiple murders (two or more committed in the same criminal act) Murder while attempting to escape a penal institution Murder for revenge/retaliation against an officer of the court. Atkins v. Virginia (2002) The Court ruled the execution of a mentally retarded defendant is unconstitutional. Note that this is not the same as mental health. Those with a medically identified mental health issue can legally be executed as long as they are in good mental health at the time of the execution. Roper v. Simmons (2005) No state can execute a defendant who was under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed. Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008) Capital punishment may not be applied for any crime where a life was not taken. (Louisiana law had set child sexual abuse as a capital crime. The law was overturned) The Court is referring specifically to the death of the victim and not how a life might be destroyed by the crime. Unanswered Questions About the Death Penalty: Critics of the death penalty argue there are several flaws in the legal system that prevent a fair application of the death penalty. They point to several factors such as the fact that innocent people are sometimes executed, the existence of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption, and the reality that the death penalty is applied more often to the poor and minorities. It should be noted that in Harris county, every defendant sentenced to death since 2004 has been a person of color. Across the state 70% of death sentences in Texas have been imposed on people of color over the last five years. Some argue the cost of the death penalty is prohibitive. In order to meet the constitutional due process requirements, Texas will spend approximately $1.3 million on each death penalty trial. A trial that results in life in prison is about 1/3 that cost. The additional costs are the result of constitutional protections that must be carried out. Others argue that the time for using the death penalty has passed. Worldwide there has been a significant decline in the use of the death penalty. Between 2015 and 2019, there was a 39% decline in the use of the death penalty. The US remains the only western democracy to use the death penalty. Of the 195 nations that are members of the United Nations or have United Nations observer status only 55 countries retain the use of the death penalty in both law and practice. Four countries- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan – Accounted for approximately 84% of confirmed executions in 2017. Thousands of executions which happen in China are not included in the global count because these executions are carried out as a state secret and no accurate number is available.


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