Watchingthe video of an innocent young African-American boy being wrongfullyexecuted in 1944 is shocking (Ziffulmyer). The scene creates theimpression of a prejudiced American society. Besides, theelectrocution of a 14-year-old tarnished the image of the criminaljustice system (Ziffulmyer). The video and the articles illustratethe extent to which the law enforcement officials failed in theduties to serve justice. Therefore, the sources provide the groundfor assessing the circumstances leading to the capital punishmentcarried out against an innocent teenager (Harrington).
Thevideo and the editorials bothered me since one would feel pity forthe young African-American boy whose life was unjustly cut short(Ziffulmyer). The scenes and details of the execution create a verydistressing image of the unfair justice system, which existed in theAmerican society during the twentieth century. Such a feeling isinevitable because the boy seems frightened judging from his physicalappearances due to the ordeal he goes through before his execution(Ziffulmyer). For example, one can tell from the video that the maskdid not fit the offender’s face. Moreover, the executioners added astack of thick books on the chair for the boy to reach the electrodes(Ziffulmyer). Logically, a young boy holding a Bible facing executionwould trouble any person.
Afterlearning about George’s story from the several sources, it is clearthat the law enforcement officials never consider the age of theoffender at that time. Furthermore, they did not investigate the caseto prove whether the accused was innocent or guilty (Ziffulmyer). Forinstance, the investigating officers did not conduct enough inquiryto find out the exact details of the murder (Maxwell). Instead, theyvictimized an innocent young boy by locking him in a room withseveral white officers who questioned him about a murder that heeventually gave a false confession (Ziffulmyer). Besides, the lack ofcredible witnesses in the case should have prompted the police toconduct further and thorough investigations (Maxwell). In any givenlegal proceedings, the due process of law has to be followed, whichtypically includes witness account and cross-examination. Besides,there is no logic in denying 14-year-old-boy contact with his parentsor close relatives (Harrington).
Consequently,several questions arise about the criminal justice departments afterlearning about George’s case and conviction. First, why did the lawenforcement personnel fail to investigate the situation leading tothe death of the two white girls? The officers arrested George andstarted questioning him about the murder even without conducting anadequate investigation as to the events surrounding the death of thetwo victims (Johnson). Then, why would a court prosecutor head asensitive case including a minor and fail to observe the due processrequired during legal proceedings? The case notably lacked witnesses,which is crucial for first-degree convictions. George’s attorneyargued that he was too young to be held liable for the crimes(Ziffulmyer). However, the South Carolina’s law considered anyoneabove the age of fourteen to be an adult. The court found Georgeguilty, and he sentenced to death (Johnson). Consequently, the casewas regarded controversial due to the severe shortcoming witnessedduring the investigations and the judicial process (Harrington).
Thenagain, the court issued a death penalty even after learning that thewhite police officers had coerced the offender into giving a falseconfession? The court did not receive a written confession from thedefendant (Ziffulmyer). George was interrogated without the presenceof a lawyer or his parents, which would have intimidated him intogiving a false confession, yet the court did not put that intoconsideration (Johnson). Moreover, the court appointed CharlesPlowden as George’s lawyer, but he had political aspirations thus,he did not form a proper defense for his client. For example, henever cross-examined the witnesses.
Itis also questionable that the prosecution ignored the issue ofconflicting interest between the all-white jury and a black offender(Johnson). The criminal justice system took a long time to reopen thecase even after realizing that George was wrongfully executed(Harrington). The defendant’s confession led the police officers toa piece of iron, which he supposedly used as the murder weapon.However, further investigation showed that the victims were killedwith a beam weighing over twenty pounds, which the offender could nothave lifted let alone swing it hard enough to kill the two girls(Johnson). Nonetheless, after seventy years, George’s convictionwas overturned because the Carolina court failed to grant a fairtrial (Johnson).
Accordingly,various elements of the criminal justice department should change toensure that injustices similar to the ones carried out against Georgewould not recur. The courts should not take a lot of time to reopencases of convicted offenders, especially when they are reasonabledoubts or controversies regarding the case. Such an approach wouldensure that justice is served to every American citizen.Additionally, it would work towards restoring transparency to thecriminal justice system. The law enforcement officers should conductproper investigations to determine the events leading to a crime(Harrington). Ideally, the strategy would help to shed light on theactual events that took place thus, assist in identifying theperpetrator.
Furthermore,thorough investigations will separate the fact from falseinformation, which mostly affects the law enforcement officers. Although the justice system assesses the nature of the victims andthe offenders in any given case, the criminal history of a defendantshould also be appropriately evaluated before making a conclusionabout their currently pending cases. For example, the police officersshould have investigated George’s story without the issue of raceaffecting their findings. Thus, it would benefit the justice system,victims, and defenders since it would streamline the proceedings,which influence the outcome of a case (Harrington).
George’sstory has proved that the criminal justice organizations particularlythe law enforcement is prone to error. However, public outcry did notoccur immediately after the case due to the white supremacy factor,which was significant in the case (Ziffulmyer). Besides, ethnicitywas a dominant element guiding the decision of the court during thiscontroversial trial. Evidence pointing towards such a line of thoughtdevelops from the fact that the case had an all-white jury, whichresulted in a conflict of interests in the matters of race.Additionally, a defense attorney did not perform his dutiesappropriately due to his political interests (Ziffulmyer).
Evenso, I agree with the decision to reopen the case even after manyyears. The criminal justice system should ensure that every persongets a fair hearing irrespective of their ethnicity, social andeconomic status (Ziffulmyer). Although the sentence had already beencarried out, it was fair for George’s family to receive a justcriminal proceeding on his behalf. Nevertheless, I disagree with thedecision of the court during the trial and the behavior displayed bythe jury, the defense attorney, and the judge ruling on the case. Ido not support the decision to execute a minor irrespective of thepurported crime (Ziffulmyer). Moreover, the case was marred withcontroversies thus, the court should have demanded furtherinvestigations to prove beyond reasonable doubt that George wasguilty of first-degree murder.
Thepresentations of the video and the articles have enlightened me agreat deal. Nevertheless, the information has not changed my opinionsabout the practices of the various parties in the criminal justicesystems such as the police officers. I have realized that in theevent of murder cases, one should not willing offer incriminatinginformation to the law enforcement officials (Ziffulmyer). Thedetails can be manipulated thus, jeopardize the defense of thealleged offender similar to George’s case. Then, I have realizedthat the law enforcement agencies are prone to fallacy, which cancost an innocent person their life (Ziffulmyer).
Lastly,the case should have followed the due process of the law withoutconsidering the victims and the defendant’s race. Therefore, thelaw enforcement officials should have looked for credible witnesseseven as they investigate the events that resulted in the death of thetwo white girls (Ziffulmyer). The assumption that George committedthe murder just because the victims stopped and asked him fordirections was not enough to get him convicted. Furthermore, thecourt should have worked to issue witness protection for the offenderbefore the police officers could investigate further and possiblyarrest the real culprits (Maxwell). Conclusively, the legal systemought to have been more careful in dealing with the delicate caseinvolving a minor and two races in a period when the country wasexperiencing racial tensions.
Harrington,Jo. George Stinney Jr: The tragic case of a child executed in theUSA. Wizzley. 15 March 2014. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
Johnson,Lorenzo. Wrongful Convictions Then and Now: The Tragic Case of GeorgeStinney, Jr. HuffingtonPost.May 2015.Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
Maxwell,Zerlina. "Was one of the Youngest Ever Executed innocent?"TheGrio.2011. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
Ziffulmyer."14yo George Stinney Executed – True Story." YouTube.YouTube, 2015. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.