Theactivities carried out in the judicial system bring together amulti-disciplinary team that helps in determining cases. The fairnessexpected from the department of justice necessitates a thoroughinvestigation and sound determination. Judges and juries formcritical elements of the legal process that ensures individualsreceive fair hearings and punishments. In a trial, the judgedetermines the application of the law while the jury makes opinionson the available facts(Carp et al., 2016). The judge controls the events in the courtroomandensures that the proper procedures are followed and advises on theproper presentation of the legal questions as they relate to thecase.
Thejury listens to the evidence and makes a decision on who to believebetween the defendant and complainant. Members of the communityconstitute it and after the determination of a case, their mandatecomes to an end. They vote to decide the if the accused is guilty orinnocent Carpet al., 2016).If the jury finds a suspect guilty, it is the role of the judge tohand the appropriate sentence.
Thenumber of men sent to the gallows greatly exceeds that of women.According to Hanset al. (2015), since the reinstatement of the capital punishment in1976, only 30 females have been sentenced to death. On the contrary,1,399 men have been sent to the gallows for various crimes.Currently, men make up 98% of the citizens who are on the deaths row(Hanset al., 2015). In addition, 25.8% of the prisoners are between theage of 30 and 39 years. Also, 48% of both men and women capitaloffenders are below the age of 44 years. The felons below 25constitute 0.9%, and 3.8% are above 65 years(Hanset al., 2015).
Thereare various factors that result in more men than women facing thecapital punishment. First, only 10% of the number cases arecommitted by women(Tomsich et al., 2014).The rationale for this is that women are less likely to engage in theviolent crime of fights that turn out to be fatal.Tomsich et al. (2014)agree that females are more prone to be victims of activities thatcan lead to death than being the perpetrators.
Anothertheoretical explanation of the few number of women in capital felonsis that the society is still chauvinist, and jurors are likely tofind more men than women guilty. The activities surrounding a majorcrime, for example, murder, are imperative in determining thedecisions of the jury. Although women may kill, they are likely touse less lethal force than men (Tomsichet al., 2014).The aggressive nature of most deaths committed by men makes theexplanation in the courtrooms disgusting, and the jurors are likelyto be moved.
Inaddition, a number of states that uphold capital punishment do notinclude the killing of an intimate partner or a child as anaggravating favor. These are the common murder cases that most womenperpetrate. According to the Tomsichet al. (2014),more than 60% of the killings committed by females involve a familymember compared to the 20% committed by men.
Thehigh number of men going to the gas chambers has been important instudying the crime trends in the society. Criminologist and legalactivists have used the data to spot gaps and inconsistencies in thejudicial system and make proposals for change. The information hasalso been exploited by jurors who make the primary decision on thefate of a suspect.
Thejudicial system has been subject to criticism from activists whobelieve that the death punishment handed to various offenders isinfluenced by race. Relatively, there are more African-Americans onthe death row than the whites (Hanset al., 2015). The trend started cropping in 1990 when a reportconducted by the non-partisan United States General AccountingOffice illustrated evidence of growing disparities in the impositionof the death penalty. The study indicated that a black defendantswere three times more likely to be sentenced to death especially ifthe victim was white.
Astudy conducted by Pew Research Center in 2015 revealed that blackmen were six times more likely to face incarceration than their whitecounterparts (Hanset al., 2015). For example, in 2011, 41.7% of the death row inmatesconsisted of African-American citizens. Hanset al. (2015) provide that, the percentage in high considering thatBlacks only make 13.1% of the total American population. Currently,of the 3,139 inmates sentenced to death, 1,309 are Blacks and 1,743are White(Hanset al., 2015). The trend indicates a higher incarceration ofAfrican-Americans and activists attribute it to racial discriminationin the judicial system.
Thereare various factors that contribute to the determination of a heinouscrime that attracts a death penalty. Apart from the race and criminalhistory of a felon, jurors also consider the way a murder wasconducted. Cruel incidents that involve torture are more likely toresult in a guilty verdict(Tomsich et al., 2014). A prime example is the case of Lisa Marie Montgomery who wasconvicted for the execution of Bobbie Stinnet and cutting thevictim’s unborn baby into pieces.
Also,if the defendant knowingly caused the death of more than person,there are high chances of the suspected being sent to the gallows. For example, Mark Kools, a former army officer was put on the deathrow for multiple murderer using a hand grenade that resulted in thedeath of 11 service members. In addition, murders committed byescaped felons or those under probation are considered to be graverand severely punished. Serial killing is also an aggravating factorsince the habitual murders are considered to perpetrate their actionsintentionally.
Thequality of legal representation in a murder case to a great extentdetermines whether the defendant gets a death penalty or otherwise. Adequate representation at trial helps individuals to evade thecapital punishment. Most of the murder suspects cannot afford tohire competent and experienced lawyers(Siegel, 2013).Therefore, a significant number of them are represented by appointedattorneys who are usually overworked, underpaid and lackingexperience in defending suspected killers. For example, this year,the state of Texas executed Richard Masterson after being in prisonfor 14 years. Despite his case eliciting questions of the whether thesaid murder actually took place, his lawyers could not convince thecourt enough that there as evidence of state fraud.
Theability of the lawyers to question the witness in a modified way thatdistracts the jurors from the perceived scene of crime isinstrumental in determining the final decision (Siegel,2013).For example, many lawyers felt that the state of Georgia erred byexecuting Brian Terrell in 2015 claiming that the case was marred byprosecutorial misconduct and misleading testimony. Due to the lack ofa competent attorney, the available team could not argue successfullyin favor of the defendant. Inefficient representation has been amajor cause of innocent executions.
Carp,R. A., Stidham, R., Manning, K. L., & Holmes, L. M. (2016).Judicialprocess in America.Cq Press.
Hans,V. P., Blume, J. H., Eisenberg, T., Hritz, A. C., Johnson, S. L.,Royer, C. E., & Wells, M. T. (2015). The Death Penalty: Shouldthe Judge or the Jury Decide Who Dies?. Journalof Empirical Legal Studies,12(1),70-99.
Siegel,D. M. (2013). What Hath Miller Wrought: Effective Representation ofJuveniles in Capital-Equivalent Proceedings. NewEngland Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement,39(363).
Tomsich,E. A., Richards, T. N., & Gover, A. R. (2014). A Review of SexDisparities in the “Key Players” of the Process: From Defendants to Jurors. AmericanJournal of Criminal Justice,39(4),732-752.