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Death Penalty

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Submitted By lmamon
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Death Penalty
Mead Shumway of Nebraska was convicted of the first degree murder of his employer's wife on circumstantial evidence and sentenced to death by jury. His last words before his execution were: "I am an innocent man. May God forgive everyone who said anything against me." The next year, the victim's husband confessed on his deathbed that he [the husband] had murdered his [own] wife (Radelet, Bedau, & Putnam, 1993).
There are an uncertain numerous amount of incidents similar to the one depicted above, that have repeatedly occurred throughout the course of history. Two highly distinguishable figures in the area of capital punishment in the United States, Hugo Bedau and Michael Radelet, discovered in 1992, at least 140 cases, since 1990, in which innocent persons were sentenced to death (Hook & Kahn, 1989). In Illinois alone, 12 death row inmates have been cleared and freed since 1987. The most conclusive evidence in support of this "comes from the surprisingly large numbers of people whose convictions have been overturned and who have been freed from death" (Bedau, 1997). One out of every seven people sentenced to death row are innocent (Bedau, 1997).
The numbers are disturbing, innocent people are becoming victims of the United States judicial system by its overlooked imperfections. A former president of the American Bar Association (ABA), John J. Curtin Jr., said it best when he told a congressional committee that "Whatever you think about the death penalty, a system that will take life must first give justice. Execute justice, not people." Though some of the innocent death row inmates have managed to escape their execution, there are numerous others who are unable to overturn their sentence through appeals. Many cases of innocence go unheard and result in the unfortunate fatality of an innocent bystander. When the death penalty in 1972 was...

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