PRISON AND DEATH PENALTY
SUMMARIES: SING ME A DEATH SONG- BY JAY BENNETT
Marian Feldon, a young woman Will be executed for murder of her lover. Everyone, even her lawyer, is convinced of her guilt. Except for Jason. He knows his mother could never murder anyone. When he visits his mother in prison, she doesn't confess having murdered her lover to her son. Jason is desperate and doesn't want to admit that his mother has perpetrated the crime and risks anything to save his mother's life. The court convicts Marian Feldon of her deed and is sentenced to death.
DEAD MAN WALKING - BY SISTER HELEN PREJEAN
Chava Golon from the Prison Coalition asks Sister Helen Prejean to become a pen pale to a death - row inmate. She accepts and the first death - row inmate is Elmo Patrick Sonnier. On November 4,1977, he and his younger brother, Eddie abducted from a lovers' lane a teenage couple, David Le Blanc and Loretta Bourque. They raped the gin, forced the young people to he face down, and shot them in the head. His younger brother Eddie is also at Angola serving a life sentence. Patrick Sonnier wants to safe his brother from the electric chair. The Jury readily agrees with the prosecutor and recents Patrick Sonnier to death.
On September 15, Sister Helen Prejean drives to Angola for her first visit with Pat.
In July 1983 Pat gets a paper with the date of his execution, August the 19 1983.
The crucial race factor in Pat's case is that his victims were white, and Eddie's victim's were black.
The day of execution Sister Helen Prejean stays with Pat until he dies. Millard Farmer is representing two death- row inmates in Louisiana and he would like her to become their spiritual adviser.
The first person is Robert Lee Willie. On May,28, 1980 he and Joseph Vaccaro brutally raped and strapped Faith Harvey and left her to die in the woods. Robert got death and Vaccaro got life.
Sister Helen Prejean visits on the one hand Robert, on the other hand Faith's parents. On the day of the execution the Harvey's come to see the murder of Faith die. Robert Willie is sorry about what he has done to Faith and her parents, but his death hasn't relieved the suffering of Mrs. and Mr. Harvey.
BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ- BY THOMAS E. GADDIS
Robert Stroud's troubles begin before he is born. Part of the trouble stem from his mother's family, and more from her unexpected pregnancy. Even at four, however he is remembered as an abstracted lonely boy. When he gets older, he begins to drift toward the life of the docks and sea. He meets sailors and lumberjacks. Their freedom attracts him. At 17 he installs electronical fixtures in the multiplying homes of new Seattle. He turns his earnings over to his mother, but his father criticises his son's Job and choice of companion. After a violent quarrel with his -father in the spring of 1908, he moves to Alaska. In Cordova, Stroud's career takes a fateful turn, but Stroud develops pneumonia and is cared for and cared by Kitty 0'Brien, his first woman. In September Stroud meets Charlie Dahmer a friend of him. Dahmer invites Stroud to visit the cottage which he shares with a roommate, Nels. On January 18,1909 they meet again and Stroud and Kitty visit Dahmer. One evening Stroud returns later to the room. Kitty lays on the bed, She got hit by Dahmer and her Cocket is keeping Dahmer until she comes to stay with him. Stroud shoots Dahmer with Kitty's gun.
After the dead, he walks to the office of Juneau City Marshal and confesses that he has killed a man. The Marshall takes him to the Federal jail. Stroud is indicted for first-degree murder. On August 23,1909, the new judge looks at Stroud and sentences him to the Statutory limit. 12 years in the penitentiary at Mc Neil Island.
In Leavenworth, Kansas, where an enormous new prison has been under construction a new cell house is completed. Stroud is one of the Prisoners who are transferred to the new prison. Leavenworth, is a maximum security prison. Among the ,,hard-case" prisoners, it is a mark of distinction to own a knife.
Late in February 1916 a friend of Stroud gets raped by a prison guard, Andrew Turner. After a violent quarrel, Stroud kills the guard. In June 28,1918, Judge Lewis immediately passes the death sentence, ordering that Stroud should be hanged on Friday, November 8,1918. Stroud lives to watch his 2 date for death pass by him on November 8, 1918. Robert Lewis of Denver arrives to pronounce sentence for the last time on Stroud.
During that time Stroud starts to breed sparrows and canaries, and raises.7-fiftythree canaries. He becomes known to hundreds of bird-
lovers throughout the country. Stroud now advises regularly in the Roller Canary Journal, where most of his articles appear.
1929, Stroud discovers all bird infections, and diseases of canaries.
1937 he married Della Jones. In the same year he becomes a scientist and an international authority on bird disease.
1942, Stroud is taken to Alcatraz. Four years after his arrival, there is a not in Alcatraz. Some prisoners and one guard who were involved into the fights, get killed.
Stroud becomes the greatest authority on canary ailments. In December 1951, Stroud nearly kills himself.
. Stroud still hopes the President may chooses to intervene in his behalf.
Alcatraz is an island in San Francisco Bay, the site of the famous prison of the same name. The island was discovered by the Spanish in 1545, and named in 1775 for its pelicans (in Spanish, alcatraces) Owned by the U.S. government since 1850, it was fortified and used as a military prison until 1933, when it became a federal prison. The prison was considered escape-proof because of its fortress like structure and the strong, cold currents in the surrounding waters. Closed in 1963, the structure stood empty until it was seized by a group of Indians in November 1969. They held it until June 1971 in an unsuccessful attempt to gain government recognition of their claim to the island. The island was opened(1972) to the public as a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Fromits inception, Alcatraz and the penology it represented drew criticism. The majority of the public, however, appeared to consider Alcatraz as a necessary and expensive evil. It became a symbol and an emotional release for the citizenry throughout the country, with the exeption of San Francisco. The Rock lay on the New York, Alcatraz at the other end of the country made anatomical comparison inevitable.
A prison is a facility maintained for the confinement of convicted felons Until the l8th century, exile, execution, and various forms of corporal punishment were the most common penalties for criminal acts. Although jails were commonplace, imprisonment was viewed as a temporary ranged from workhouses for debtors (Bridewell in Britain and the Maison in Rome1 which was priarily designed to incarcerate incorrigible boys. Retribution was acknowledged as the prime motivation for official punishment.
Under the influence of the l8th-century Enlightenment, however, the extreme harshness of most punishment was questioned for the first time. attempts were made to fit the severity of the punishment to the severity of the crime, in the belief that the existence of clearly articulated, and just, penalties would act as a deterrent to crime. thus deterrence, rather than retribution, became a leading principle of European penology
DEVELOPMENT OF U.S. PRISONS
From the establishment of the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia (1790) through the development of the Auburn, N.Y. (1817), and Pennsylvania (1829> systems, the well-ordered, physically isolated prison was viewed as a mechanism to instil discipline, remove temptation, and rehabilitate the offender. In the Auburn system, prisoners were housed in separate cells at night, but worked together during the day; the Pennsylvania system isolated the offender for the entire period of confinement. Both systems, however, were based on the premise that isolation, the substitution of good habits for sloth and crime, and a regimen of silence, penitence, and labour would return the offender to society cured of vices and ready to become a responsible citizen.
Largely because it was a more effective way of harnessing the labour power of prisoners and was thus less costly to adopt, the Auburn system became the dominant method of confinement in the United States. The goal of reformation was eventually shunted into the background-prisoners became holding operations, designed to promote a respect for order and authority.
The National Prison Conference, held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1870, was the first signal of reform. Encouraged by the recent development of PROBATION and PAROLE, the conference called for the establishment of the indeterminate sentence, which allows a court to specify, within statutory limits, the minimum and maximum length of sentence for a particular offence. It was believed that this type of sentence would give the offender an incentive for rehabilitation, for he or she would be released only when it was determined that satisfactory change had taken place.
In recent years, however, rising crime rates have thrown into question the effectiveness of prison rehabilitation, and several states have re-turned to mandatory sentencing laws whereby the convict must serve a term of specified length.
THE U.S. PRISON SYSTEM TODAY
BY the end of 1988 the total number of convicted criminals U.S.
federal and state prisons reached 628,000, the largest number ever incarcerated and an increase of some 90 percent over an 8-year period. (another 150,000 were awaiting trial in local prisoners.) The prison population expanded by about 7 percent duringl988, a rate of increase that would require the addition of more than 800 beds per week to U.S. degree, the national drug problem contributed to this growth: since 1980 the number of arrests for drug violations increased 80 percent.
As a result of the large numbers of prisoners, overcrowding is common-place in all correctional institutions. Overcrowding can lead to higher levels of tension and aggression, and is a contributory factor in prison riots. There is little doubt that conditions in most prisons are a threat to the safety of inmates and prison staffs alike. Prison guards, usually rural and underqualified, face the open hostility afinmates who are often from urban ghetto environments.
The cost of maintaining prisons is staggering: depending on the type of prison and the state where it is located, an annual $14,OOO-30,OOO per prisoner. The cost of new construction averages almost $54,OO0 per bed (although a maximum-security bed in Massachusetts or West Virginia where prison costs are highest-reaches $140,OOO). In 1989, 43 states were under court order to correct overcrowding in their prisons. A few of these states have turned to private companies, who build and administer new prisons at lower costs than those the states can obtain. Some criminologists4uestion whether it is appropriate for a state to hand over its correction and detention responsibilities to private enterprise.
The most familiar type of correctional institution is the large, fortress like, maximum-security prison. Such structures as San Quentin prison in California are characterised by their massive size, thick stone walls, gun towers, steel doors, multi -tiered cell blocks, large populations, and rural locations. By contrast, medium-and minimum-security institutions are identified by their openness and the absence of strict security procedures. Persons held in such facilities are judged to be less dangerous and therefore better security risks. A myriad of correctional programs and wide range of counselling pro-grams are offered in many prisons, their extent is limited by their cost, the size of the prison population, and the expertise of the staff.
Prison work programs have existed since colonial times, although often under rigid restrictions intended to limit their competing with outside industry. Recent attempts to bring outside work into the prison have demonstrated the productive potential of prison labor, however.
Under one such program, businesses are offered some type of financial inducement to enter the prison. Inmates are paid the market wage for their labor, and deductions are made for room and board, family support, union dues, taxes, restitution, and savings. Nevertheless, in 1988 only some 50,000 inmates were assigned to prison industry programs. Medical care is another urgent inmate need, especially with the growing presence of AIDS in the prison population. Many prisoners have exceedingly poor medical histories; they may suffer from the ravages of drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, the population of medically-vulnerable elderly prisoners will increase as inmates serve longer sentences. Despite the need, regular medical services are costly to provide and difficult to maintain. Many institutions have attempted to provide care by contracting for medical services rather than maintaining full-time facilities.
Despite the presence of prison rehabilitation services, one point must be emphasised: prisons have never been schools, factories, hospitals, or psychiatric centers. First and foremost, they are places of confinement. The ever increasing size of the U.S. prison population insures that, in future, most prisons will serve primarily as holding facilities.
The male inmate is thrown into prolonged intimacy with other men and is forced to assume an aggressive posture and to maintain a constant wariness for his personal safety. Homosexual rape is a common occurrence in male prisons, with attacks generally made on vulnerable new inmates.
In U.S. female prisons, inmate society is generally made up of informal pseudofamilies. Almost all inmates are part of a 'family' and define predictable and stable structure of social relations-including homo-sexual relations-to which a female inmate can turn for support and uncommon, however, for different ,,families' to come into conflict. Women are held in smaller prisons with fewer programs and recreational opportunities, and the programs that are offered reflect stereotyped female roles, with emphasis on housekeeping, sewing, clerical, and typing skills. Because female prison populations are growing at a faster pace than are male populations, however, even those programs once available to women inmates are becoming more difficult to enter: and living conditions for women prisoner, both in women's prisons and in the women' 5 wings of men's prisons, have grown even more onerous than
conditions for men. A recent development, the co-correctional prison, permits a certain level of male-female mixing and offers improved pro-gram opportunities for women. Overall, however, women prison with more serious health problems than men. Mothers may have the burden of concern about the care of their children while they are in prison.
Given the problems engendered by prison itself, it is not surprising that rehabilitation programs have failed to reduce recidivism in the United States. The number of ex-prisoners who are arrested within three years of their release is estimated at about 60 percent.
LEGAL RIGHTS OF PRISONERS
Early U.S. court decisions ruled that prisoners had forfeited all of the rights enjoyed by free citizens. Eventually, the courts recognised certain rights and legal remedies available to prisoners, who may now file their own suits, have direct access to the federal courts, and file writs of HA~US CORPUS and mandamus.(Under habeus corpus the prisoner may request release, transfer, or another remedy for some aspect of confinement. Mandamus is a command issued by a court directing a Prison administrator to carry out a legal responsibility-to provide a sick prisoner with medical care, for example-or to restore to the prisoner rights that have been illegally denied.) Prisoners have sought remedies for many problems, including relief from unreasonable searches, release from solitary confinement, and the procuring of withheld mail. Recent decisions have indicated, however, that the courts are now willing to limit legal suits by prisoners in deference to the security requirements of the prison.
PRISON IMPROVEMENTS AND ALTERNATIVES
Attempts to aid the prisoner's return to society have to the development of several innovative programs. The goal of conjugal visitations is to keep marriages intact by permitting social and sexual contact between prisoners and wives. Furloughs provide home visits of 48-72 hours for a prisoner nearing his release date; they are intended, to aid in restoring family ties and in job seeking. The work release program permits inmates to test their work skills and earn money outside the institution for He major the part of the day. The supervised halfway house is designed to help the parolee make the transition from prison to community. Placement in a halfway house is often a condition of parole.
Capital punishment is the lawful infliction of the death penalty, and since ancient times it has been used to punish a wide variety of offences. The Bible prescribes death for murder and many other crimes, including kidnapping and witchcraft. By 1500 in England, only major felonies carried the death penalty: treason, murder, larceny, burglary, rape, and arson. By 1800, however, Parliament had enacted many new capital offences, and hundreds of persons were being sentenced to death each year. In the United States prior to the Civil War, the death penalty was imposed an slaves far many crimes punished less severely when committed by others.
Reform of the death penalty began in Europe by the 1750s, and was championed by such thinkers as the Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria, the French philosopher Voltaire, and the English law reformer Jeremy Bentham. They argued that the death penalty was needlessly cruel, overrated as a deterrent, and occasionally imposed in fatal error. Along with Quaker leaders and other social reformers, they defended life imprisonment as a mare rational alternative.
By the 1850s these reform efforts bare fruit. In the United States the death penalty far murder was first abolished in Michigan (1847); Venezuela (1853) and Portugal (1867) were the first nations to abolish it altogether. Today, it is virtually abolished in all of Western Europe and most of Latin America. Elsewhere-in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (except Israel)-most countries still authorise capital punishment far many crimes and it with varying frequency.
Methods of inflicting the death penalty have ranged from stoning in biblical times, crucifixion under the Romans, beheading in France, to those used in the United States today: HANGING, ELECTROCUTION, GAS CHAMBER, firing squad, and LETHAL INJECTION.
In the United States, beginning in 1967, executions were suspended to allow the appellate courts to decide whether the death penalty was unconstitunal. In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled in Furman V. Georgia that the death penalty for murder or for rape violated the prohibition against ,,cruel and unusual punishment.' The Court argued that death was meted out with ,,freakish' irregularity and so its use was ,,arbitrary' and ,,cruel.' Most of the states enacted new death penalty statutes, however, and in 1976 the Supreme Court in Gregg v. Georgia held that these were not unconstitutional. Capital status now typically authorise the trial court to impose sentence (death or life) only after a post conviction hearing, at which evidence is submitted to establish which aggravating' or ,,mitigating' factors were present in the crime. If the ,,aggravating' factors prevail and the sentence is death, then the case is automatically reviewed by an appellate court. In 1977, however, the Supreme Court also ruled that death far rape was ,,grossly disproportionate and excessive' (Coker v. Georgia). Thus, apart from certain crimes (notably, treason) an which the Supreme Court has not ruled, the only capital crime in the United States today is murder.
In 1977, executions resumed, and by 1985 more than 1,500 persons were under death sentence in 33 states. The rate of executions also increased, averaging nearly two per month during 1984 and 1985. Public opinion seemed to support this; various polls reported that about 70% of Americans favoured the death penalty for murder.
Debate over the merits of capital punishment continues unabated. Proponents defend it mainly an two grounds: death is the fitting punishment far murder, and executions maximise public safety thorough incapacitation and deterrence. Opponents reply that there is no evidence that the murder rate fluctuates according to the frequency with which the death penalty is used. They also abject that lex talionis (,,a life far a life') is not a sound principle of criminal justice- that society cannot allow the brutalities of criminal violence to set the limits of appropriate punishments. Also disputed is whether the death penalty continues (as critics claim) to manifest racial and socio-economic bias.
On October 16, 1985, the electrocution of William Vandiver by the state of Indiana took seventeen minutes, requiring five charges of electricity On April 22, 1983, as the state of Alabama electrocuted John Louis Evans the first electrial charge burned through the electrode an the leg and the electrode fell off. The prison guards repaired it and administered another charge of electricity. Smoke and flame erupted from Evan's temple and leg but the man was still alive. Following the second jolt, Evan's lawyer demanded that Governor George C. Wallace halt the proceedings. The governor refused. Another jolt was administered. It took fourteen minutes far Evans to die. On May 5, 1990, as the state of Florida killed Jesse Tafero, flames shat six inches from the head his head. The executioner interrupted the standard twa-minute2,0OO-valt electrical cycle and officials determined that a sponge an Tafero's head had caught fire.
The only man to walk away from an electric chair alive was seventeen-year- old Willie Francis. On May 2,1946, he was strapped into Louisiana's portable electric chair in the jail in St. Marin Parish. As the current hit his body, witness reported that the youth's ,,lips puffed out and he groaned and jumped so that the chair came off the floor, and he said, ,,take it off. Let me breathe.' The officials applied several mare jolts, but Francis was still alive. They then helped him back to his cell to recuperate from the ordeal. The U.S. Supreme Court, considering whether it could be considered ,,cruel and unusual punishment' or 'double jeopardy' to subject Francis to electrocution a second time, rendered a split verdict. On May 8, 1947, Louisiana officials once again strapped Willie Francis into the chair, but this time they succeeded in killing him.
But evidence that executions do not deter crime is conclusive. In the U.S. the murder rate is no higher in states that do not have the death penalty than in those that do. In Canada, the homicide rate peaked in 1975, the year before the death penalty was abolished, and continued to decline far ten years afterward. and the first major report an capital punishment prepared for the United Nations in 1962 concluded:
,,all the information available appears to confirm that such a removal (of the death penalty) has, in fact, never been followed by a notable rise in the incidence of the crime no longer punishable by death.' In the fall of 1987, immediately after the state of Louisiana executed eight people in eight and a half weeks, the murder rate in New Orleans rose 16.39 percent.
In contrast, New York City, in a state with no death penalty, reduced its crime rate dramatically in the first four months of 1992- murders declined by 11 percent- which many attribute to increased community policing. In 1990 the city had 750 foot officers an the streets. Today there are 3,000.
Similarly, in New Orleans in 1992, the year ended with a 21 percent decrease in the murder rate, halting a three-year stretch of record-breaking murder rates, a decline which police readily attribute to two federal drug-fighting programs and beefed-up police patrols in high-crime areas.
Between 1960 and 1976,the number of reported murders in the United States more than doubled- from 9,060 to 18,780- and between 1960 and 1980 the rate of ,,index crimes' listed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation rose by mare than 230 percent.
Despite high pro-death-penalty sentiment, however, public support seems stronger in the abstract than in the concrete. Most juries, for example, faced with actually imposing death in capital trials, choose life imprisonment, even in ,,Death Belt' states, and a growing number of public opinion surveys show that it is protection from criminals rather than executions that most citizens want. A 1986 Gallup Pall reveals that while 70 % say they favour the death penalty if they are given new data that shows that capital punishment does not deter crime and are offered the alternative of life imprisonment without parole, support for execution drops to 43 percent.
An execution of a prisoner costs mare than life imprisonment. That's because capital trials require more expert witness and mare investigators, a longer jury-selection process (those who oppose the death penalty must be screened out), the expenses of sequestering a jury, not one but two trials because of the required separate sentencing trial, and appeals in state and federal courts.
Punishment describes the imposition by same authority of a deprivation-usually painful-an a person who has violated a law, rule, or other norm. When the violation is of the criminal law of society there is a formal process of accusation and proof followed by imposition of a sentence by a designated official, usually a judge. Informally, any organised group-most typically the family, in rearing children-may punish perceived wrongdoers.
Because punishment is bath painful and guilt producing, its application calls for a justification. In Western culture, four basic justifications have been given: retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation. The history of formal punitive systems is one of a gradual transition from familial and tribal authority to the authority of organised society.
Criminal sentences ordinarily embrace four basic modes of punishment. In descending order of severity these are: incarceration, community supervision, fine, and restitution. The death penalty is new possible only far certain types of atrocious murders and treason. Most states provide for a wide discretion in choosing which type of sentence to impose. This discretion is usually vested in the judge, although it may be shared by other officials, such as probation and parole authorities. Only general guidelines exist for the selection of sentences, based upon individual facts of each case. The problem of widely differing sentences given for the same crime, however, has led to an attack upon individualised sentences based an the offender's perceived characteristics. Limitations an sentencing discretion have been proposed (and enacted in same jurisdictions-for example, at the U.S. federal level in 1984) in the forms of mandatory sentences, explicit guidelines for judges, and the abolition of parole.
Criticism of the present PRISON system of punishment has focused mainly an its rehabilitative and preventive functions. Critics paint out that recidivism- the commission of another crime after the offender has served a sentence for the first-is high. Thus the system seems in-effective as a cure far, or a restraint upon, those factors in offenders which may lead to criminal acts. Further more, because there is no way to predict the future behaviour of individuals, the length of sentence and the release date may have no relationship to the prison time necessary to effect a cure in, or rehabilitate, an offender. Many criminologists insist that there is no adequate body of
empirical evidence to demonstrate that any punishment, CAPITAL PUNISH-MENT included, has a restraining effect an potential criminal behaviour.
Punishment is an ancient practice whose presence in modern cultures may appear to be out of place because it purposefully inflicts pain. In the minds of most people, however, it continues to find justification.
PROBATION AND PAROLE
Probation is a conditional sentence imposed an a convicted offender by the court, which requires supervision by a probation officer in lieu of incarceration. Parole, the early prison release of an offender after the completion of a portion of the sentence, is a key factor in the indeterminate sentence. Like probation, release an parole is conditional and if the offender violates the conditions or commits a new crime, the parole can be revoked and the offender returned to prison to complete the sentence. The parole decision is made by a parole board, an administrative body consisting of persons who usually have a back- ground in criminal justice and have been appointed for a fixed term.
Critics of probation and parole contend that such practices are too lenient and permit the offender to escape deserved punishment. Such criticisms have led to laws that forbid the imposition of probation when offenders are convicted of violent crimes and that limit the use of parole.