In wake of the recent death of Brandon Bernard at the hands of the federal goverment via excuation, the rise agaisnt the death penalty has overtaken the media. It draws the question of whether or not it is constitutional to continue the death penalty and the reliability of the system that has utilized this form of punishment. The United States, however, is not the only country that still implements the death penalty; other countries like China and Iran also have implemented the death penalty. However, human error in the system and prejudice placed within the proceedings has led to many innocents being put behind bars and sentenced to death in every country, is it fair to continue to implement a system that only results in more death?
The use of the death penalty is something that has been around for centries, the very first usage of exectuion for crime was reccorded in Ancient Egypt during the 16th century, for a noble who had been accused of doing black magic, a crime that is still punishable in many North African countries today. The written law that deemed the death penalty a legal form of punishment dates back as far as the 5th Century under Roman law. The death penalty has been performed in seveal differnt ways, some in the most basic form an ax or blade, some in more painful ways such as drowning or ingestion of poison. One roman form of execution took place by the sea where the victim was thrown in with a dog, rooster, and an ape. Over the ages the death penalty has shifted from painful forms of execution by drowning, hanging, blade, and sometiems even stoning to more “humane” methods such as electric chair then to lethal injection.
Brandon Bernard was executed on the 10th of December of 2020 by lethal injection; many believed that he did not deserve to be placed on death row and simply carry out his punishment as an inmate for the remainder of his life as punishment due to his behavior and change in character from the crime he was an accomplice in as an 18-year-old. In the days leading up to his execution, many called for President Trump to pardon him from his untimely death, there was a large rally on social media platforms and the case even caught the eye of many celebrities like Kim Kardashian. Pervis Payne is the next inmate set on death row for a crime many believe that he did not commit. Pervis Payne also has an intellectual disability which would legally bar him from being punished via the death penalty, but nevertheless, his sentence is set to be carried out on April 9, 2021.
Whether the court decides to reopen the case to look at further evidence that may prove the innocence of Payne or not will be a deciding factor on if the sentence is to continue to be carried out. Other cases of innocents who were sentenced to the death penalty only to later be proven innocent include George Stinny, a 14-year-old African American boy accused of the murder of two white girls in 1944 who was racially profiled and sentenced to death despite being innocent. Many believe that like Stinney’s case others have been discharged due to racism and prior prejudice, but regardless, the death penalty continues to still be a widely accepted practice around the world despite the controversy that follows.
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