The Issue of Juries in Death Penalty Cases


The use of juries in capital punishment cases is unfair on the suspects who have to put their fate on the twelve legally untrained individuals. The death penalty is the legal execution of a person penalty for committing murder, kidnapping, treason, or other vicious crimes as defined by assorted jurisdictions. In the U.S. Michigan was the first state to abolish it and lately New Jersey. Still practiced in 35 states it has however been eradicated within Western Europe and numerous Latin American countries (

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Arguments Against the death penalty

Juries are a drawback within the criminal justice system since the panel can make quick decisions based on convenience especially when they want to return to their normal lives hence negating required impartiality. Juries are also likely to be biased against certain marginal groups with race and religion swaying their decisions (Brisbane n.p.). In Texas the state leading in death penalty convictions, most convicts are African Americans. Similarly, as evidenced in the Rodney King case the all-white jury predictably acquitted Caucasian police officers. Relying on juries can be likened to proletarian justice considering juries are not obligated to give reasons for their decision. Juries normally make decisions based on questions of fact as opposed to judges who apply questions of law and the presiding judge has no authority to order them to convict a suspect notwithstanding the evidence (Haag & Olin, 2).

DNA Testing. The fact that only 5-10 percent of convictions involve DNA testing means that likelihood of over 90 percent of cases needing review is necessary to avoid further injustices while death penalties should be halted ( Juries are thus least qualified to pass judgment considering the irrevocability of the death penalty. As an instrument of deterrence, it invalidates every advantage it may offer humanity. The uncertainty and wrongful convictions revealed in many reversed decisions from DNA analysis make the death penalty rather atrocious to those who may be innocently convicted (Reilly).

Juries have minimal capacity to verify scientific and other mitigating factors. The death penalty does not offer many deterrents to potential murderers since the execution rate in the U.S. of less than 2 percent is quite insignificant. Likewise, criminals are not offered the chance to repentance while the finality of the execution removes the possibility of legal redress or appeal. The possibility of murderers being mentally unstable especially during the act provides medical grounds on why it should be abolished (Bjerregaard et al 111). The death penalty is the only outstanding corporal punishment still existing because executions exact torturous bodily pain (Haag & Olin, 1).

Arguments for the death penalty

Those in favor of the death penalty argue that it permanently eliminates violent evil criminals from the community hence making it safer for the rest of the populace. Thus, murderers and other convicted violent criminals should not be perpetually incarcerated and resources can be better used (Brisbane n.p.). The death penalty offers retribution to the victims’ families and is biblical according to Mosaic laws or an eye for an eye while serving as deterrence. It also distinguishes heinous criminals from others that may necessitate life sentencing and those that call for executions like serial killers and child killers to crimes of passion that may be incidental. The use of juries provides the likelihood of injection of communal values in the judicial system and check to court excesses. Although life without parole (LWOP) is a viable alternative to the death penalty it is however a slow death and cruel on convicts (


Juries are therefore not qualified to convict suspects to death punishment since the act itself is injurious and final hence offering no chance for retribution or justice to the innocent. The lack of legal training and the likelihood of popular opinion plus other bias militates against jury trials.

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Works Cited

Bjerregaard, Beth, M. Dwayne Smith and Sondra J. Fogel. The organizational response to persons with mental illness involved with the Criminal justice. Elsevier: Google Books, 2005. Web.

Brisbane, Herkermer. The Advantages & Disadvantages of the Criminal Justice System. 2011. Web. Arguments for and against capital punishment in the UK. n.d. Web. 2011

Haag, Ernest van den & Olin, John M. “The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense.” Harvard Law Review (1986). Unreliable or Improper Forensic Science. n.d. Web. 2011.

Reilly, Allison Midori. Why abolish the death penalty: Factors to consider. 2002. Web

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Paperroni. (2022) 'The Issue of Juries in Death Penalty Cases'. 10 June.

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