Poverty In The Criminal Justice System

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Imagine sitting in a courtroom on trial for a crime. The death penalty is a possible sentence for the offense. Watch as the public defense lawyer ruins any chance of a lesser punishment … because he or she is drunk. This is exactly what happened to Robert Hosley. The article "This Man 's Alcoholic Lawyer Botched His Case” states that Hosley went to trial for committing a capital offense, murdering a police officer. His public defense lawyer, Andy Prince, was drunk for most of the trial and failed to demonstrate to the judge or jurors that his defendant was intellectually challenged as well as terribly abused as a child. Consequently, without these key pieces of information, Hosley was sentenced to death (Bookman). The death penalty in …show more content…
The article "Deterrence and the Death Penalty" states, “Since blacks are three times as likely to be poor as whites, it seems reasonable that race could serve to measure the impact of poverty on criminal charges, convictions, and sentencing” (Johnson and Johnson 9). According to statistics from Amnesty International, the race of the defendant as well as the race of the victim both affect a court’s decision regarding the severity of the punishment. Since 1976, 77% of defendants who committed capital crimes against white victims have received capital punishment and 17% of defendants who committed crimes against black people resulted in execution, even though blacks make up roughly 50% of all homicide victims ("Death Penalty and Race."). These numbers reveal an undeniable bias in the U.S. criminal justice …show more content…
The book Is the Death Penalty Fair? explains that arbitrary jury selection is an integral part of the United States justice system. A random selection of jurors is a fair and reasonable process, but prejudice within this system is inevitable. One example is that those living in poverty cannot afford their own bail, and therefore the jury will likely assume that this person is not competent enough to sustain an adequate lifestyle. Consequently, the jurors are more likely to believe the defendant is more deserving of capital punishment (Johnson and Johnson 8-12). The way our system is today, two people can commit the same crime, and one can receive the death penalty, while the other may not. It is ridiculous that life or death situations are distributed in such an arbitrary

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