Media Influence in Death Penalty Cases

“A television camera is being set up, a press photographer leans against the barrier between the court and the spectators. Four reporters take their seats across the aisle from the family…” – Weinberg p. 270

Often times, high-profile cases, such as death penalty cases, attract a swarm of media attention, leaving up to question: how much does the media actually influence these cases? According to Capital Punishment in Context, jurors who are qualified for such death penalty cases are statistically likely to watch daily news programs and are, overall, well educated. Therefore, these jurors tend to be more biased against defendants by nature. These jurors are able to recognize the facts of a high-profile case and statistically are more likely to believe the defendant to be guilty. Likewise, in cases that are highly publicized, judges are more likely to give more serious punishments than in cases with little publicity. They feel the responsibility to punish someone for a crime that has received a lot of fame and buzz. Lastly, the potential for fame and profit can affect the way some lawyers act. They can develop motives aside from defending or prosecuting someone. For example, it’s been discovered that famed female serial killer Aileen Wuornos’ lawyer lacked prior crime law experience but rather took the case for her own potential benefit. Overall, media plays a large role in high-profile cases. The unfathomable attention that these cases draw bring about a new sense of pressure for the jurors, judges, and lawyers to do their jobs properly.

Media Influence in Death Penalty Cases

Death Penalty

In chapter 16 the book discussed people’s differing opinions on the death penalty. It was decided that the death penalty would have been too harsh and that the jury would not have been able to sentence Frediani to death simply based on the evidence presented. Although Heilig did not agree and she thought that yes Frediani deserved to die because of what he did to Helena. I wanted to know more about the death penalty in the United States and if most people agreed with Heilig’s mentality of an eye for an eye.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-death-penalty-deserves-the-death-penalty

I found this article that put the death penalty into a different perspective for me. Lincoln Caplan talks about how there have been “more than fourteen hundred executions in the United States”. This really puts into perspective how much the death penalty has been used throughout the years. Is this acceptable? He also goes into talking about the different ways that these people are killed and how many of these drugs have not been approved by the FDA. Also he says that 152 times people have been exonerated. Mistakes have been made and this has cost innocent people their lives.

I know that Frediani is guilty but what if he wasn’t? Is killing him because he killed Helena really a good punishment? Should the punishment always fit the crime? Before I read this article I completely agreed with Heilig, but after reading the article I have begun to rethink my stance on the death penalty.

Death Penalty