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Essay about An Innocent Murderer: The Flaws of Capital Punishment

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What would you do if you were suddenly arrested for a crime that you didn’t commit? What if you were taken to the station, interrogated, and booked for murder? Would you stick to your innocence, or possibly take a plea bargain just to get past the constant questioning from authority? Would you write to others to try and prove your innocence? During the course of many years, this has happened to numerous people. Many people have been ripped from their daily lives and thrown into a cell. The individuals are just waiting for the day when someone will prove them innocent. In the past 39 years, 117 people who were serving time on death row have been proved innocent and released from prison (Daily 36). Over time, critics have presented flaws in the judicial system that are leading many to question the use of capital punishment.
One of the most fundamental pieces of a trial is eyewitness statements. However, eyewitness statements can contribute flaws to the judicial system because they often change. The case of Cameron Todd Willingham centered on the idea that Willingham started a fire that killed his own children, making him a murderer. One of the eyewitnesses, Diane Barbee, first told authorities that Willingham seemed absolutely “hysterical”. She also mentioned that the front of the house exploded during the fire. On the other hand, after learning that fire investigators were suspecting Willingham of murder, Barbee’s testimony began to change. Barbee then told authorities that the smoke coming from the house was minimal and not very thick. As critics looked back at the case, they also noticed that Diane Barbee testified differently during the trial than in her eyewitness statements. During the trial, Barbee testified that Willingh...


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...Daily Record Advisory Board. “The Death Penalty Kills Innocent People.” The Death Penalty: Opposing View Points. Ed. Diane Andrews Henningfeld. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. 36. Print.
Fields-Meyer, Thomas, Pam Lambert, Alex Tresniowski, Matt Birkbeck, Lauren Comander, Anne Driscoll, and Frank Swertlow. “Free at Last.” People 2 Dec. 2002: 62. Print.
Grann, David. “Trial By Fire.” The New Yorker 7 Sept. 2009: 5-10. Print.
King, Rachel. “Chapter 7: Rush to Judgment.” Don’t Kill In Our Names: Families of Murder Victims Speak Out Against the Death Penalty. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003. 173-185. Print.
New York Post. “DNA Technology Can Assure the Fairness of the Death Penalty.” The Death Penalty. Ed. Jean Alicia Elster. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2005. 176. Print.
Shapiro, Joseph P. “The Wrong Men on Death Row.” U.S News 9 Nov. 1998: 22. Print.


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