Running head: Wrongful Conviction and Death Sentence in US 1
Wrongful Conviction and Death Sentence in US 2
English Composition II
Ending the life of a human legally as punishment has been practiced in the United States for centuries. Influenced by Britain more than any other country, European travelers brought it with them when they stepped foot in the new world. The first-ever execution was carried out in 1608 in the colony of Jamestown located in Virginia and was carried out on the infamous Captain George Kendall; he was convicted of spying for Spain. (Death Penalty Information Center, 2020). Comment by Crystal: A comma should also be here. Comment by Crystal: This language is imprecise. Calling them “travelers” suggests they were not planning to stay. Comment by Crystal: Period is needed instead of a semi-colon. A new sentence should start with “He…..”
Currently, the United States of America is one of 55 countries that still retain capital punishment. Inside, 28 states, federal government, and the military are currently practicing this form of punishment. Since 1977, approximately 7800 defendants have been given the death sentence, 1500 of which are already executed. Out of these 1500 people, 165 were executed before their official execution date. Two thousand six hundred fifty-six prisoners are still on death row as of December 17, 2019 (Capital Punishment in the US, 2019) (Center, 2019). Comment by Crystal: Plural needed. Comment by Crystal: This word can be omitted.
There are five methods for executing a prisoner; these include death by; hanging, firing squad, lethal injection and electric chair, and gas chamber. In all five methods, mishaps have been reported more than once. From the head of one prisoner catching fire on the electric chair to another prisoner struggling for more than 30 minutes because of the wrong combination of drugs in the lethal injection, these mishaps are reported by the police officers as well as the journalists and the family member of prisoners and victims who witnessed the execution. In some cases, prisoners were given a death sentence purely because of a lack of evidence or identification of the wrong man by eyewitnesses. There are also cases where crime scenes are made up to hide the real culprit and let someone else suffer. Not all people on death row are guilty, but sadly in most cases, their innocence is proven after their death, which is of no good to anyone. (Prison Fellowship, 2020) Comment by Crystal: You can use a colon here and then list the five methods. Comment by Crystal: This is very good information! However, the sentence is grammatically incorrect. I am unable to correct all grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors nut I will identify them so that you can correct them and avoid the same mistakes in the future. Comment by Crystal: Is the documentation for this part of the Prison Fellowship 202 citation? If not, a separate citation is needed.
There is a difference of opinion amongst the American people about killing a helpless human legally and the ways that process is carried out. For some, such prisoners are a threat to everyone, and this threat should be eliminated. But for others, no matter what the criminal has done, he or she is still a living human being. The person should be punished, but no one should have the right to decide on how long one must live. They have done horrible things, but they do have a wife, a child, a mother, a father, all law-abiding innocent citizens of this country. What have they done to experience a planned killing of one of their own? The punishment of never getting out of jail for the rest of their life is more than enough for death row inmates, but they should have the right to live out their natural life. Comment by Crystal: This is grammatically incorrect. Comment by Crystal: This is unclear. Are you suggesting that all incarcerated persons are innocent?
With many different opinions amongst the American people, mishaps in the execution processes, and six states getting rid of the death penalty, one may ask, “Is death penalty appropriate as the final form of punishment for criminals in the United States.” Comment by Crystal: This is also grammatically incorrect. I will suggest correct wording for you to consider: “Given the fact that there are different opinions among American, mishaps in the execution process and the decision of elected officials in six states to eliminate the death penalty, one may ask, “…….” Comment by Crystal: The correct word is “among.”
With many protests by the people, errors in the execution processes, and violation of human rights, the issue of the death penalty has become a subject of debates in various intellectuals and political arenas. Proponents of the death penalty argue that maintaining this type of punishment reduces the crime rate in the country, while opponents of capital punishment strongly disagree. The questions that this study will address are; Is the death penalty appropriate as the final form of punishment for criminals in the United States? Does it help in decreasing the crime rate? What mechanisms can be put in place to ensure that the accused are not convicted of a crime they never committed? Why should the government have the right to decide who should die and when? Especially with such procedures that have gone wrong countless times and have brought great suffering and struggle to the person being executed. Comment by Crystal: See C13 comments. Comment by Crystal: Only one research question is needed and it should be stated in the beginning. Comment by Crystal: A colon is needed.
Statistics show that crimes in the United States continue to be rampant in most states. The easy access to guns may be a factor that contributes to keeping the crime rate higher than most developed countries in the world, including Canada and European countries. This research intends to show that the death penalty is not the ultimate solution even for the worst of crimes. It brings pain and suffering not only to the prisoner who is found guilty even when there is a chance that he or she is not but also to his/her family. On top of that, there is no proof that this brings a lifelong relief to the victim’s family as well. The methods used can go horribly wrong, and the witnesses of the execution also have a negative physiological effect. Apart from that, this research also shows that how life sentence is the best alternate for the death penalty, not only for those who oppose the concept of execution but also for those who believe that a prisoner should suffer in the worst way possible. Comment by Crystal: Comma needed. Comment by Crystal: Comma needed. Comment by Crystal: Citation is needed. Comment by Crystal: Omit this word.
As mentioned prior, many people are convicted in the United States for the crimes they never did. About 4% of the death row inmates are accused of a crime that they never committed. But once the decision is read, the person convicted has no choice but to either accept his fate or go for the appeal. There are many reasons as to why a person is labeled ‘guilty of the crime’ that he or she never committed. Above all is the judicial system within the free world. There are eleven major steps of the federal process regarding crime within the US as stated by the United States department of justice (United States Department Of Justice, 2020). The mere first step of this process can easily be subjected to an attempt of a wrongful accusation both willingly and due to lack of evidence. Not much attention is also given to the statement of the witnesses as to whether they are telling the truth or not. This has happened many times before, and many prisoners were wrongfully accused due to improper investigation or lack of evidence. Among many cases, there is one case that wraps up most of the steps that can easily be taken to accuse someone of a crime that he never committed. Comment by Crystal: “committed” would be the better word. Comment by Crystal: omit Comment by Crystal: It is grammatically incorrect to split an infinitive. Many people do but that doesn’t make it correct. Correct wording is: “to accept his fate or appeal the decision,” Comment by Crystal: Omit. Comment by Crystal: Complete sentence needed. Comment by Crystal: Capitalization error.
Angel Diaz was a 55-year-old Puerto Rican convict who was executed using lethal injection by the State of Florida. His execution was one of the severe miscarriages of justice because not only was he was innocent of the accused crime but also because his execution went wrong, and he ended up struggling for 36 long minutes before being pronounced dead (AMERICAN MURDERER, 2015). He was accused of the murder of Joseph Nagy. Joseph Nagy was the manager at Velvet Swing Lounge when Diaz and two of his friends, Angel Toro, and another yet-unidentified man, went there for robbery. During the robbery, one of the robbers shot Joseph. No witnesses were there to confirm as to which one killed Joseph as everyone was locked in the bathroom by the robbers. The case unsolved for almost half a decade, after which Diaz’s informed the police that he was the one who shot Nagy. Diaz would go on to represent himself in the court despite his bad English, which placed him in a position of major disadvantage. Later, another prisoner (who didn’t understand Spanish) told police that Diaz (who spoke only Spanish) had confessed in jail that he shot the manager. Without any witnesses or evidence, Diaz was sentenced to death in 1986 by an 8-4 jury vote. He was executed by lethal injection on December 13, 2006 (Murderpedia, 2020). Angel Diaz’s last words, as translated, were’ “you know I’m innocent, I know I am innocent, God knows I am innocent.” (RON WORD, December 13, 2006). Comment by Crystal: Insert “was.” Comment by Crystal: Very effective example.
This is just one of the many cases where people were either executed or were put behind bars for almost half of their life for the crimes they never committed, just because of a lack of evidence, improper investigation, and lying witnesses.
Despite being a common practice now in the US, killing someone, legally or in an illegal manner, is not a pleasant thing to do as well as to witness. It is disturbing to watch, hard for the executioner to conduct, and extremely painful for the victim. This practice is so cruel that even the doctors have refused to carry out the process as it is against their code of conduct. Because of this, there is an assistant or a nurse in the room where the execution takes place, and it’s his/her job to carry out the process. The doctor will only come to confirm the death, and this is the main reason why many executions go wrong. Something is bound to happen when an unskilled, nonprofessional assistant will do the job, which can only be done by a professional correctly. This is compulsory in death by lethal injection as it is the form of execution where a person can be left paralyzed. In all other methods, the inmate eventually dies even if the process goes wrong. Comment by Crystal: Omit and substitute the word, “or.”
The earlier case discussed of Angel Diaz is not only an example of how an innocent can be killed by the state but also of how much wrong execution can go. His execution is the one that will be remembered for a long time for all the wrong reasons. Diaz was killed by the method of lethal injection. Three drugs were used on him, which included; pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride, and pentobarbital. The first injection went directly through his vein and into the tissue below. It was then forcefully pumped into the tissue, which was then slowly absorbed by the body with agonizing pain. Moreover, pancuronium bromide is extremely acidic and needs to be dissolved before use, but this was not done in the case of this innocent victim, further increasing the pain. The second drug, potassium chloride, is used to stop all voluntary movement but doesn’t stop the heart. Strong anesthesia should be given before the use of this, which was not given to Diaz, due to which he began suffocating. This drug was also inserted in his tissue rather than the vein. At the time when he should be unconscious, the man was struggling with extreme pain and also gasping for air. Then the third drug, pentobarbital, was injected, which should have stopped the heart immediately, but as every other drug was absorbed slowly through tissue rather than the vein, Diaz did not die immediately. He was feeling extreme pain and a burning sensation throughout his body while being half-paralyzed and struggling excessively. It took 34 to 36 minutes for him to be pronounced dead (AMERICAN MURDERER, 2015). Witnesses say that it was very disturbing to watch. Comment by Crystal: New paragraphs are needed for each of these 3 drugs.
Reasons to eliminate death sentence
Apart from the brutal ways of execution, killing a human being is never a good idea. It, not just a moral issue for people as to, should a person be killed or not because of the crimes one committed. There are many other reasons to eliminate this cruel practice. On top of all, it is no visible proof that this practice deters people from committing a crime. Other than that, reasons also include the lengths of time for which the person is kept behind bars before is life ends. In California, for example, it takes a minimum of 26 years between a death sentence and the actual execution. This state has executed very few people; in fact, most people awaiting a death sentence die a natural death due to old age. Another thing is the expanse, killing someone systematically, is not an easy task. It is estimated that killing people legally has caused more than a billion US dollars to the American taxpayers in a period of just five years (Masaki Ichinose, 2017). Comment by Crystal: Grammatically incorrect. Comment by Crystal: Wrong word. Do you mean “his?” Comment by Crystal: Spelling error.
Public’s Point of View
When it comes to interviewing the general population, most people do not agree with killing a prisoner, in their opinion, “he is a human being first, then a prisoner and no human deserves to die like that.” People think that everyone deserves to live; they may be confined in a certain space but not be killed. They have families, friends, wives, children, and mothers. Those people have done nothing wrong to suffer the loss of their loved ones. And if an innocent person is executed, then this is the biggest miscarriage of justice ever. Every single person involved in processes of bringing an innocent to his/her coffin should also be punished. And the families of such people must be given huge compensation. Of course, money won’t bring back their loved one, but it can give some kind of relief to them if any. This is the least that the US government should do as it is responsible for the preservation of the rights of every single tax-paying, law-abiding American, and it has failed to do what it was supposed to do. Comment by Crystal: Citations are needed.
On the other hand, there are people who appreciate the death penalty. Their argument is that if a person had no remorse for the person that is killed, then there should be no mercy for that individual. These people are a threat to society, and this threat should be eliminated. US government protects the rights of every single American, not just the ones in jail. If the lives of people are in danger because of someone, then that individual should be executed. But on the point of life sentence versus the death penalty, then these people split into 50 50. If we further add the fact that the ones in jail won’t see the outside world for rest of their lives, they will spend years thinking what have they done every day and will die their natural death, wishing they could turn back time and go on to live a normal life, they won’t ever see their children grow up, they will never spend another day in their own house with their own family, then most people who at first supported the death penalty turn their opinion in favor of life in a sentence as it turns out to be even crueler than the death sentence. Comment by Crystal: The correct wording is “The U.S. government.” Comment by Crystal: Citation is needed.
Death penalty and wrongful convictions are two problems that are of great importance, but unfortunately, they are not much addressed in this country, which affects not only the prisoners but most of all their families who pay their taxes regularly and are law-abiding citizens of this country. If the voice regarding these issues is not raised today, then countless people will suffer in decades to come just like countless people suffered before, and there will be many more innocent people thrown in jail for the crimes they never committed. Comment by Crystal: Grammatically incorrect. Comment by Crystal: This is another generalization which can’t be proven.
Bibliography AMERICAN MURDERER. (2015). ÁNGEL NIEVES DÍAZ. Retrieved from https://peoplepill.com/people/angel-nieves-diaz/ Capital Punishment in the US. (2019). Capital Punishment in the US. Capital punishment in the United States. Retrieved from https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/facts-and-research/sentencing-data/death-sentences-in-the-united-states-from-1977-by-state-and-by-year, http://p2.smu.edu/rhalperi/summary.html, https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/20/us/marion-wilson-execution-georgia/index.html Center, D. P. (2019). Death Penalty, Year-End Report. Retrieved from https://files.deathpenaltyinfo.org/reports/year-end/YearEndReport2019.pdf Death Penalty Information Center. (2020). History of Death Penalty. Early Death Penalty Laws. Retrieved from https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/facts-and-research/history-of-the-death-penalty/early-history-of-the-death-penalty Masaki Ichinose. (2017). Death Penalty Debate. Retrieved from https://philpapers.org/archive/ICHTDP.pdf Murderpedia. (2020). Ángel Nieves Díaz. Retrieved from https://murderpedia.org/male.D/d1/diaz-angel-nieves.htm Prison Fellowship. (2020). WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS. Hundreds of people have spent time in prison for crimes they did not commit. Retrieved from https://www.prisonfellowship.org/resources/advocacy/sentencing/wrongful-convictions-2/?mwm_id=295767862212&sc=PGNWAAG190104012&sc=PGNWAAG190104012&gclid=CjwKCAjw1cX0BRBmEiwAy9tKHtVrLWzEgHPC-0Svg425LyhXt5fqKMbF_2g_8gpMGGGupOTBIzmrkBoCvo0QAvD_BwE RON WORD. (December 13, 2006). Strip club manager killer set to die. Retrieved from http://angel-diaz-florida.blogspot.com/2006/12/you-know-im-innocent-i-know-im-innocent.html United States Department Of Justice. (2020). United States Department Of Justice. Steps In The Federal Criminal Process. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/usao/justice-101/steps-federal-criminal-process
ADDITIONAL FEEDBACK – USING THE RUBRIC:
RESEARCH QUESTION…. You asked many questions but I accepted the first one as your Research Question. It was well stated and it is relevant and debatable. You earned 10 of 10 points.
WORKING THESIS…. You never stated a working thesis that clearly reflects a specific position on one side of this argument. It was apparent from your research that you are against the death penalty but you never actually stated the thesis. Even though the thesis is not stated, I gave you credit for the research that supported your anti-death penalty “position.” You earned 9 of 10 points.
DETAILED OUTLINE…Your outline was detailed in providing enough information to support your unstated thesis statement and answer your research question. However, you do not have a section on “counterarguments.” You will need to build an argument and a counter argument section is a necessary element to prove your thesis. You earned 12 of 15 points.
STYLE..I love your style of writing. It is informative and persuasive. The examples chosen were also very good. There were a couple of places where word choices could’ve been better but the quality was not diminished. You earned 5 of 5 points.
CONVENTIONS..There were too many grammatical errors. You earned 3 of 5 points.
REFLECTION…This section was not provided. You earned 0 of 5 points.
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