“At this point, Frediani is not a real person to me; just a man accused of murder, approaching his day of judgement. My thoughts and sympathies are with Helena Greenwood, the victim, the person I am already relating to” – Weinberg, p238
I found this quote from chapter 16 very interesting for two reasons. Firstly, I wondered whether Weinberg was putting into words what all the jurors who were gathered for this case were already thinking. It prompted me to question whether people can have an unbiased view when they are involved in the trial of a murder case. Personally, I think it would be hard for me to go into a murder trial with an open mind about hearing the suspected murderer’s side of the story. Although the person is not convicted yet, the word “murderer” resonates badly, and even though it is coupled with the word suspected, murderer overshadows this word and consequently, I believe it blurs the vision of the jurors. Secondly, Weinberg statement that “Frediani is not a real person” to her anymore is a very strong and opinionated statement. Throughout her book, Weinberg seems to contradict this statement since she makes Frediani into a very real person for her readers by writing about what his family thinks about him, and how he has redeemed himself and made a better life for himself after the sexual assault trial. It is interesting to me that although Weinberg says that Frediani is not a real person to her anymore, she creates him to be a person in order for her readers to build their own opinions about him.
Chapter 16 begins to get to the ladder part of the case with Frediani and brings up the possibility of him facing the death penalty. Executions from the death penalty have occurred in thirty-four states since its coming back in the year 1976, but I was curious if the death penalty will ever be banned again. This article does a great job providing 5 reasons why the death penalty is slowly fading away . I will detail two of these reasons as talking about all five will be too long of a post. Reason 1 details the fact that despite the many methods of execution that were preformed over the years, the deaths do not always go smoothly and effectively. The older ways such as burning and electrocution clearly caused problems of slow deaths that can even take hours for the person to die, but lethal injection was not the effective way that some people thought it would be. Pharmaceutical companies will not always supply their drug for the purpose of execution and cases of botched injections have occurred. When there is no certain way to make these deaths quick these executions are only becoming a hassle. Another reason listed in the article is the constant burden that the U.S. Supreme Court faces. There is never a fine line about who should live and who should die in cases and the talks of this controversial topic will never cease to end with it still being an option. The Time article even goes on to say that the Justices know that the modern day death penalty is set up in a failed way, and this would lead us to believe that eventually they will just get tired of trying to “prop up this broken system”.
“In April 2002, a national landmark was reached when the one hundredth person was freed from death row, after DNA had proved him innocent” (Weinberg: 250).
This quote reveals two core issues: the death penalty itself, and then innocent people in prison. Put the two together, and you get a nasty combination that highlights one of or the greatest fault in the criminal justice system: innocent people have more likely than not been executed in our country.
Firstly, the death penalty, in my opinion, should not exist, but my reasoning has actually nothing to do with executions themselves. Death row incarcerates such a small minority of the overall prison population that it seems to me that it does not have any deterring effect on crime. Death row inmates will spend an average of 7 years awaiting appeals and other delays that prevent a speedier process. Granted, there are safeguards in place that are supposed to ensure that someone who is put to death is guilty as guilty gets, but these safeguards are expensive, costing sometimes millions of dollars per case. Furthermore, the criminal justice system, namely court rooms mistakes and misconducts, land an unknown percentage of people in jail or prison who are innocent. With innocent people being exonerated from death row, it makes you realize that even with safeguards in place there will still be error that executes innocent people: the greatest miscarriage of justice.
If only there was a better way one may ask. I for one think that “rotting” in prison for the rest of your life is quite inhumane, so it might be better to just remove this particular person from society fatally if they deserved it. However, and as cited above, there a number of problems with having a system that does execute people. More innocent people would end up on death row if there wasn’t enough litigation behind it. Overall, the death penalty is an ineffective means of preventing crime, and there are just too many nuisances that do not make it a good system. The death penalty is a lose-lose no matter how you critique it. Our judicial system is intentionally cumbersome so people do not get unjustly punished, but there is an irony in this that creates a multitude of its own issues as well.
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.
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.
Towards the end of this chapter it is said that there is difficulty in placing a burden on a jury and giving them the power to decided if a man lives or not. Obviously, this is true to some extent, but on the contrary it does sound extremely terrifying. If a mans life is placed inside the grasp of random people that are likely to have no knowledge on the defendant, this can be extremely controversial. I think that this should be the case on crimes where the prosecution is able to describe and analyze the crime so throughly that the jurors can almost paint the picture in their heads, but cases like Frediani, there was a good amount of vagueness in the obtained evidence, most of which the jury had no knowledge of. I think that placing someones life inside the hands of the uninformed results in an undeserved fate for the defendant
In Chapter 16, Weinberg takes a trip to visit Helena’s father, Sydney Greenwood. During her visit, Sydney recounts many memories of his life as a young man, and of Helena’s life. He prided on her accomplishments, and when speaking on her life and murder said:
“Her killer took her life, but he did not silence her. It has taken fifteen years, but I know Helena has spoken from the grave to indict her killer” (244)
This passage gave me chills because it acknowledges the irony of Helena’s career and its connection to her death. Helena had studied the versatility of DNA, and it is ironic to see what a large part it plays in her murder case. Would she be proud of the advancements of her field even though she was a clear sacrifice for its progression? It is grim subject, but I cannot help but wonder.
While Chapter 16 discussed issues involving the verdict of the case, there was heavy discussion on the importance and advancements of DNA. Particularly involving the Human Genome Project and the ability to genetically identify individuals characteristics, traits, and diseases based on their genome and genetic sequence. In regard to these ideas, there was talk of inappropriate reasons for genetic testing such as genetic engineering if children, and aborting fetuses due to unhappiness with traits that are expressed by fetuses. I thought this was very interesting however, with such a new advancement Weinberg never touched upon the risks of genetic testing. She stated that individuals terminate pregnancies due to unwanted characteristics in the fetus however, can genetic testing also cause that unwanted characteristic? Are there risks? Below is a link from the NIH listing the risks of genetic testing. While it suggests that risks are low due to only using blood samples or cheek swabs, there is severe risk of harming the baby and causing disabilities when doing prenatal testing such as amniocentesis. Thus, it is also important to look at the risks of doing such procedures before looking at the strengths immediately for such a new advancement.
“Paul Frediani’s parents believed their son when he said he was innocent. To do otherwise would be to question their role as parents, the values they has instilled in their eldest son, the genes they had passed on to him.”
How much of blame should Frediani’s parents be assigned for his situation? Personally, I feel none. There was no distinct lack of nurture or extreme abuse of Frediani as a child that should have caused this situation.
The genes, however, may have some effect on Fredinani’s criminal record. Earlier in the semester we spoke about a gene that makes people more likely to be violent or have extreme emotional reactions to common occurrences. Based on the accounts from his ex-lovers, in which Frediani was painted as an emotional wreck and a hazard to the women’s safety, he could be exposed to the same genetic mutation. Is it possible that Frediani is just a victim of his genes?
I don’t believe so, because in the same video that explained the violent gene we saw an innocent, calm, and gentle family where each member had the gene. The family was in control of their own actions and not harming anyone.
Therefore, if anyone is to blame, it is not his parents, his upbringing, or his genes: it is just him.