Sanctity Of Life

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In 1988, Walter McMillan, a black man from Alabama, was arrested and put on death row for a crime he did not commit (Stevenson 21). He never once gave up hope that he would be freed, never once considered a plea bargain. Although he left the courtroom a free man six months later, he never recovered fully from the trauma, experiencing flashbacks of his time on death row even as a 90 year old man (Stevenson 279). Although the death penalty is relatively uncommon, it is legal in 31 of the 50 states in the US, for “he who violates that right (to live) in another forfeits it for himself" (Bradbury, "The Death Penalty Affirms the Sanctity of Life"). While this punishment is reasonable for certain varieties of violent crimes, for an innocent man like…show more content…
A judge may choose a life penalty instead of a death penalty in the hope of the criminal’s rehabilitation; while this goal is likely feasible for the committer of a lone, spontaneous crime, multiple premeditated offenses like those of serial criminals render any form of rehabilitation highly unlikely (Bradbury, "The Death Penalty Affirms the Sanctity of Life"). Therefore, serial criminals should be considered for death row. Another common objection to the death penalty is the chance that an innocent person may be sentenced to death and executed. Likewise, even if they are found innocent, the consequences of their time on death row would follow them throughout their lives. Walter McMillan suffered due to the perjury of witnesses, whom law enforcement coerced to provide false testimonies placing McMillan at the scene of a murder. Similar situations could be prevented by only placing a person on death row if there exists irrefutable, incriminating evidence, such as DNA evidence or camera footage. The use of DNA analysis in modern day death penalty cases has almost nullified the chance that an innocent person is put on death row, as such evidence or the lack thereof guards an innocent defendant against perjury (Bradbury, "The Death Penalty Affirms the Sanctity of Life"). The tragic story of McMillan also indicates the biased perception of the local courts that condemned him; he had already been framed as a vicious murderer by the media and, at that time, was predisposed to a conviction of capital punishment simply by being a black man in Alabama. However, today’s review of capital punishment cases by both state and federal courts makes such a bias highly unlikely. The compounded effects of only considering cases with incriminating evidence
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