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In 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled capital punishment was both cruel and unusual, especially due to some states’ “capricious and arbitrary” ways of employing the death penalty. The Court ruled race placed too large a role in determining who lived or died. It didn’t stop there, however. The Court recommended new legislation be instituted so that the death penalty might become constitutional again and went on to say legislation should directly address racial problems regarding capital punishment and that new guidelines should be put into place. This, of course, wasn’t what opponents of the death penalty wanted, but for many, it was a start. It also was a big advantage for criminal lawyers who found themselves with limited options for defending their clients, says A. Harrison Barnes, attorney and founder of

Then, in 1976, a substantial new study revealed over 65 percent of Americans not only supported the death penalty, but wanted it made constitutional again. The Supreme Court heard the majority loud and clear and after having been satisfied of the changes it had strongly encouraged some four years earlier, the death penalty was once again deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Interestingly, the first execution only a year later was commissioned via the firing squad. Gary Gilmore, a Utah killer, faced the squad and in a split second, his life was over. Still, many groups, including Death Penalty Focus, a group of lawyers and citizens committed to abolishing the death penalty once and for all, insist racism is still too big a priority of those deciding the lives of others. Further, it also reiterates the many who were convicted and executed, only to be found innocent later due to DNA or other evidence not available prior to the execution. Currently, nearly 130 people across the country who were facing execution dates have been found innocent and not only taken off death row, but released from prison completely exonerated, thanks to those dedicated lawyers who worked tirelessly to ensure no more miscarriages of justice occur. Still, A. Harrison Barnes points out there are over 3,300 prisoners who are on death row awaiting conviction.

It becomes difficult to reconcile those who adamantly insist the system is racist, especially since almost 45 percent of those currently on death row are white. African Americans follow with slightly less than 42 percent of the total death row population, followed by Latinos (11.3 percent), Native Americans (1.10 percent) and Asian (1.10 percent). With so much crime in today’s headlines, each story more evil than the one before, the odds of the death penalty being deemed unconstitutional again in the near future are practically nil. These statistics only reiterate the dedication of legal firms that specialize in death penalty cases all over the country. is the first – and last – place criminal lawyers search for new career opportunities. Recent grads or established lawyers with substantial careers, the team remains committed to its clientele. Removing the difficulties associated with bringing new lawyers on board allows these firms to dedicate their energies to their clients – which is the way it should be.

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