Just Mercy

I think all five areas, innocence and error, inadequate counsel, racial bias, arbitrariness and public safety, which mentioned in the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) article are very important and definitely need fixing. However, I think the biggest problem with the death penalty is the Racial Bias which still exists today. In my opinion, the bias shown towards certain races then also contributes to the other issues. According to EJI almost half of the people who have been placed on death row were African Americans. With this data it is easy to see the prevailing bias when determining these cases. Not only is the high percentage such a problem but also all the other issues it creates. The article also mentioned a big issue is Innocence and Error. Since there is such a succeeding bias during the trials a great number of innocent people are being charged with consequences which they don’t deserve. However, bias isn’t the only factor which contributes to Innocence and Error, it is also that too many don’t receive adequate legal defense, which is a factor of its own. Since the system targets the poor and innocent, good legal defense isn’t an attainable option for most people. The result of this, is that the innocent don’t have any representation and therefore no ideal chance of not being given the death penalty. This leads to another factor, which is Public Safety. Since the system is so broken and the wrong people are targeted and then charged the death penalty makes no one safer because some of those who are guilty aren’t charged and then are still roaming the streets. Overall the system is broken and is therefore affecting society in the wrong ways.

My information on the death penalty before viewing the movie, Just Mercy, was vague and therefore my view on the death penalty was limited as well. My perspective on the death penalty, however, has always been that it is inhumane and that the system is broken. However, I always knew that there were innocent people serving time for crimes they didn’t commit. Yet I was never aware as to why so many innocent people were being charged for other people’s wrongdoings. I never understood how a jury could be so determined to send someone to the death penalty. While I do realize that in some cases there is an immense amount of evidence why proves that person to be guilty, I do think that there is always some percentage of doubt present. With the number of people who landed on death row, I have always felt that the percentage of doubt which is always present during these trials has been underestimated and not acknowledged, which proves that the system is broken.

The movie emphasized how broken the system truly is, and how much help and improvement it needs. The system traps people who have no way out. The ones who have no chance of saving themselves due to a lack of money or just the bare existence of racial discrimination. However, the movie did show that the recognition and realization of the harm that the system brings to the guiltless people does make people want to make a change. I did, however, realize how hard it is to change the system since it’s been in place for so long and too many people don’t see the wrong in the system. What struck my attention during the movie was how many people didn’t want Attorney Bryan Stevenson to help the innocent people who were suffering. While the movie might’ve been placed in the South during the 1980s doesn’t mean it doesn’t still occur today. The change is, sadly, not wanted by many and this is due to the fact that the wrongs with the system aren’t being recognized by the public since they are downplayed and therefore many people are of the belief that the system is serving its purpose, which is to execute those who commited a capital crime. The problem, however, has been that for years now, not only those who committed a capital crime but also those who are innocent are being punished.

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