The Death Penalty—Introduction
The death penalty is, perhaps, one of the most controversial areas in the field of law and justice. Although 38 states in the U.S. still allow the death penalty, only a few actually use it with any commonality. Most European countries have now abolished the death penalty, leaving the U.S. among the shrinking minority of Western nations that implement capital punishment.
Unlike other forms of punishment, the death penalty is irreversible. There is no option of reversing the sentence for defendants who are later proven innocent. Therefore, there is a valid concern that an innocent person might be executed.
This controversy has been fuelled by DNA findings about the guilt or innocence of those executed or on death row. In the period of 30 years after the landmark case of Furman v. Georgia (1972), 123 inmates on death row were found innocent.
In the Furman case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that imposition of the death penalty in some cases violates constitutional protections. The justices articulated their opinions of concurrence and dissents on this controversial subject. This forced the states and national legislature to rethink their statutes for capital offenses.
Controversial Issues in the Death Penalty (1 of 4)
Jury Selection by Voir Dire
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "voir dire" is an Anglo-French term which means, literally, "to speak the truth.” In criminal justice, voir dire is the process by which potential jurors are examined by attorneys for the defense and prosecution and the trial judge to determine their competence for jury duty. The potential jurors are questioned about their opinions, experiences, and backgrounds to establish whether they can evaluate the evidence fairly and objectively.
Just as with the death penalty, jury selection is one of the more controversial areas of the U.S. justice system. One of the reasons for this controversy is the strategies adopted by attorneys during...