This week, the 5C Criminal Justice Network (CJN) addressed the recent conviction and execution of Troy Davis and similar death penalty cases by holding an open discussion at Scripps College. According to its website, the CJN “aims to raise consciousness about prison-related issues at the Claremont Colleges” due to a belief that the criminal justice system is “broken.” Overwhelmingly, the members of the group held the opinion that the death penalty should no longer be employed in the United States.
The first focus of the discussion was a legislative action to remove the death penalty constituted.
“The barrier to the removal of the death penalty is that so many people believe that one who kills another does not deserve to live,” Catherine Schetina SC ’14 said. “Legislators can’t righteously back a bill their constituents don’t support. We’re hoping this incident will change some minds.”
Scrutiny also fell on the Supreme Court, which has yet to make a ruling on the Constitutionality of the death penalty. The discussion brought up the point that “the Supreme Court is the most respected of the institutions that have the potential to do away with the death penalty,” said Julia Shin CMC ’13.
Schetina added that America may see a death penalty case reach the Supreme Court in the next ten years.
Every country in Western Europe had abolished the death penalty by 1992, and every country in North America had abolished it by 2008, with the exceptions of Cuba, St. Kitts Island, and the United States.
“We’re behind on the times,” Schetina said.
The humanity of execution methods also played an important role in the discussion.
“We’ve gone from hanging, to electric chairs, to lethal injection, and [in certain states] people even have a choice as to how to be executed,” Judy Goldberg SC ’12 said. She added, “It’s much more expensive to execute those on death row [than it is to put them in prison for life]. The cost of appeal after appeal is much more than the ‘pennies a day’ it costs to provide for a prisoner, after all.”
“The methods have changed over the years, but the problem of wrongfully putting people [such as Troy Davis] to death remains,” Shin said. “We should write letters in support of getting criminals off death row and into prisons.”
Students interested in the Criminal Justice Network at Scripps College should contact Judy Goldberg via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The club meets weekly, is 5-C inclusive, and puts on various events, such as movie showings and letter-writing campaigns, throughout the year.