The death penalty has been a controversial issue in American society for the last twenty years, starting back in 1976 during the Furman v. Georgia trial. The Furman v. Georgia case was about three black men that received the death penalty for the murder and/or rape of white people. It was argued against because two of the men were sentenced to death for rape, even though other people had been given much less severe punishments for murder (Bender 35)! Should it be up to our justice system to decide a person's fate? There are many issues that deal with the controversy of capital punishment such as discrimination, cruel and unusual punishment, unfair trials, the possibility of being "wrongly accused", and the rights of the convicted.
The gravest issue related to the death penalty is the fear of executing an innocent person. To date, no one has ever been sentenced the death penalty, executed, then discovered to be innocent (Draper 35). But since 1973 there have been 102 people in 25 states that have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. In many of these cases, the convict was proven innocent because somebody confessed to committing the crime. Considering that an extremely small percent of escaped murderers would actually confess to their crime, it appears that there must be a very large amount of people that have been wrongfully accused and possibly some that have actually been executed. One example of a wrongfully accused person is Anthony Porter. Porter was convicted in 1983 for the murder of 2 people. In 1999, two days before his execution, a videotape of a man confessing to the murder was discovered! He was released and acquitted of all charges. Although he wasn't wrongfully executed, 16 years of his life was spent in jail with the fear of death looming over him. It is indisputable that people are being wrongfully accused constantly, and that it will always continue to be a problem.