This political cartoon illustrated by Nick Anderson criticizes the Texas Justice System of being racist when it comes to determining a death penalty. The cartoon presents an African American looking helpless tied up to a bed about to be executed while a white man with a big smirk in a blue suit with letters saying ‘Texas Justice System’ asks him a question. The question states “Raise your hand if you think race played a part in your death sentence”, but the African American is tied up, so obviously he cannot raise his hand to defend himself, yet the white man is expanding his power. Anderson demonstrates a liberal viewpoint that is influenced by his childhood experience in which his father taught him to think independently about politics. Anderson disagrees with the death penalty and is delivering a powerful message that discrimination has a role in the death penalty, most noticeable in Texas. Therefore, it should not be conducted as a method of punishment because it is unfair since certain people like African Americans are already being restricted by other injustices in society.
In this article written by Ross Douthat, the OP-Ed Columnist of New York Times, expresses his opinion on Arkansas’ inhumane action of executing Ledell Lee simply because the lethal injection drugs were close to expiring. He continues in describing his belief that the punishment system in the United States needs to be altered, and states that the prison system in America causes inmates to experience physical abuse. He mentions a suggestion by a judicial clerk, Peter Salib, that replaces the prison system with a labor system, but he opposes it due to the fact that it would resemble slavery. Douthat writes on a variety of topics, but usually presents a conservative point of view. He is a Catholic which also contributes to his opinion on certain topics that go against Catholic beliefs like abortion, which he strongly opposes. Therefore, his religious status as Catholic influences his opposition to execution being a punishment. Douthat does not appreciate the use of death penalty and recognizes the currently imposed punishments are supposed to distinguish from the previous inhumane punishments. However, he does state that he would rather be put to death than to lose his dignity in prison.
Jonathan Forrester presents the perspective of an activist group called Think Outside the Box in New York who believe solitary confinement is torture, and is intending to change the use of solitary confinement in prisons due to the negative effects it has revealed on inmates. The group has expressed their belief of restricting isolation in prisons by intending to pass the HALT Solitary Confinement Act in the assembly and presented data stating the effects of inmates that were in solitary confinement. The group has done a lot of research in New York to come to the conclusion that isolation causes inmates to experience psychological damage and leads them to harm themselves and others once they are released. Think Outside the Box is a group composed of members that are former inmates, family members of incarcerated people, lawyers, and individuals in the human rights which influence their perspective of opposing solitary confinement. In a way they have experienced solitary confinement whether it was them or knowing someone who has experienced it, so they know how it must feel to be in captivity. It’s clear that Think Outside the Box believes solitary confinement is torture based on the their name in which ‘box’ refers to the isolated room and the reasons they have provided that isolation causes inmates to deteriorate socially, psychologically, and physically.
In this article, Mark Berman explains the perspective of those who still believe in the death penalty as an appropriate punishment. Supporters of the death penalty are aware of the risk of executing an innocent person, yet still encourage it due to their belief that the death penalty matches the serious crime that has been committed. Several surveys were conducted in order to come to the conclusions that groups of people from different levels of education and race affect their stance on the death penalty. For instance, most white people who do not have a college degree agree to the use of the death penalty while African Americans, for the most part, oppose the use of the death penalty based on the fact that there are more African Americans incarcerated in prisons than any other group. Supporters of the death penalty demonstrate a traditional perspective since they mostly have a lower level of education. This implies their small-mindedness and believing that the death penalty is morally justified although racial unfairness is present. The supporters of the execution method take in consideration the gravity of the crime, but still agree to take the risk of executing an innocent person because it’s morally justified, according to them.