Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peculiar Institution-- Review

I really enjoyed reading David Garland's book. I was impressed with his writing and how he remained relatively neutral throughout the book. At the end of the book he noted that about 80% of Americans do not have a strong opinion regarding the death penalty. On a survey asking about capital punishment, they answered "I don't know" in regards to how they felt about the subject. To be completely honest, before reading this book I did not have a strong opinion either for or against capital punishment myself. I never really thought of it as a controversial issue. I knew it existed, but did not realize the extent to its severity and how America is the only "Western" nation who still uses it. I assumed that the whole world still used it. Garland's book did not change my opinions on the death penalty. I still feel it is the right of the state to decide how they punish their criminals. He did, however, open my eyes to several discourses and problems with the current process of putting someone to death. I hate to think that racism still exists in our court system and government, but the evidence is overwhelming. I do not look at it as blatant "in your face racism," but more of a subtle racism. It appears that racial division persisted for so long that it is taking decades to completely eradicate it. The system was geared to support the majority and it has yet to find an equilibrium. Stereotypes over power truth in my opinion. Societal stereotypes and social norms shape the minds of jury's, local politicians, and local communities. If a community is engrained with racist ideologies, or remaining traces of it, they will be more likely to inflict harsher punishments on minority crimes against majority victims. This is a shame and I hope that something will be done to fix it.

1 comment:

  1. Brandon, your thoughts about how racism relates to capital punishment are interesting and were one of the aspects of the book that stood out to me most. I was not expecting for racism to be brought up in a discussion about capital punishment. To see the statistics laid out was shocking to me. Like you say, it is so subtle. It is so ingrained that the people involved in the convictions don't even realize that this subtle racism is occurring. This type of racism is so foreign to to me. I too hope that something will be done to fix the situation, but I don't know how something so deeply ingrained in a culture can be addressed.