The Punishment Of The Death Penalty In The Film Dead Man Walking

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The film Dead Man Walking focuses on the controversial topics surrounding the death penalty and whether or not the legal system possess the right to kill a person as punishment for a crime. The movie is about Matthew Poncelet on death row and his struggles while awaiting his execution. The death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976, and some states have chosen to do away with executions, even with the development of lethal injection. In Tim Robbins’ movie Dead Man Walking, he employs characters to convey how the death penalty eliminates the possibility of rehabilitation, the way a punishment fits the crime, and the guarantee that killers cannot kill again to strengthen death penalty arguments throughout the movie. One piece…show more content…
The criminals on death row are not able to exclusively focus on their awry actions, only able to worry about their approaching death. As Poncelet announces “Only three days left. Plenty of time to read my Bible and look for a loophole,” he delivers this in a joking manner because he has little time to repent for the murder of Walter and rape of Hope (Dead Man Walking). Poncelet’s appeal to the courts is denied, and three days does not give anyone the time nor the chance to make up for what they did. Prisoners do not get the option to make amends with the victims’ family and the trouble and difficulties their actions bring forth. The film argues that “by taking responsibility for his crime...a sociopath can be changed back into the person he started out being as a child,” which discloses that by not having the chance to own up to the crime, they cannot become a better human being (Ryan 232). The death penalty takes away any chance of being able to redeem themselves and go back to whom they originally are. Some prisoners want to take a polygraph to try and potentially prove their innocence, but in one case in Georgia, they “refused to allow the examiner into the prison” (Bruck 583). The denial of a polygraph does not give the prisoner any opportunity to contest the court’s…show more content…
This means that the criminal’s punishment is applicable for the crime they commit against another individual. In the film, Poncelet’s sentence is death for his crimes, the murder of Walter and the rape of Hope. The officers believe that Poncelet receives the right punishment because as “the Bible says, ‘An eye for an eye’” is the deserving sentence (DMW). During the execution scene, the camera flashes over Poncelet’s body with Walter and Hope above him watching the execution, illustrating that the punishment for the crime is complete. By the justice system giving Poncelet “the highest penalty for the taking of human life...[they] affirm the highest value of human life” (Koch 578). Giving the death penalty to criminals assures that they get the punishment their actions call for. Robbins presents all three dead bodies, highlighting how justice is present for the victims’ families, and that they do not have to worry about the criminal getting away with the crime. As the movie goes to “an aerial pan of the woods at morning, beautiful until the corpses are shown facedown in a clearing, the camera receding...over Matt’s if it were all one continuous aerial view” it is conveying the finality of Poncelet’s actions against the teenagers and the end result of his death (Ryan 231). Because he murders Walter and rapes Hope, he experiences the same fate by enduring the death penalty. The aerial view

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