Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Spring Break Assignments
We had a couple of visitors from other classes (English 1A).
Before the lecture we watched the film: Race to Execution. See pbs.org/independentlens for information about the film, director and producer. If race is a determining factor in who is sentenced to execution here (US), what factor (s) determine Justine's (Frankenstein) conviction and sentencing for the murder of William?
Respond here in a short essay. Use evidence from the film and from the book. Due by April 8 midnight.
Just two of the students in the early class completed their research for the Social Entrepreneur essay, that is, they had identified a person for the project. Don't get behind.
Other homework from WWT is to read chapter 4: Examples pp. 99-111. Do all exercises.
In Frankenstein, read up to Chapter 15, page 124. You can always read more.
English 201 B
Race to Execution
In the movie Race to Execution we learn that both the race of the victim and the accused profoundly influences the legal process of the execution. We also learn that the race and gender of the jury can impact the outcome of the trial. Justine Moritz, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, was convicted as a killer and sentenced to death for the murder of William Frankenstein, even though she was innocent. There were many determining factors to Justine’s conviction that should not have even been accounted for.
Justine Moritz was the Frankenstein’s housekeeper and servant. She was poor and only had the Frankenstein family as means for living. Elizabeth Lavenza, Frankenstein’s wife to be, adored sweet Justine and considered her somewhat of a cousin. Alphonse Frankenstein, Victors’ father, loved Justine as almost a daughter but was disturbed when he heard the news of her conviction as the murderer of his son. When Justine had initially heard of Williams death she fell ill, and was bed ridden. A servant found a picture of Williams’ mother in Justine’s pocket that William had been seen with less then a day before he was murdered. The servant immediately reported the finding of the picture in her pocket and Justine was instantaneously charged with Williams’ murder. Victor Frankenstein knew that Justine was innocent because of his findings the night of his arrival into town. He had seen the monster he created not far from the spot William was found dead and he instantly knew that it was his monster that killed William. He could not tell his family because he thought that they would either blame him for Williams’ death or take it as a sign he was going crazy.
When in trial the jury instantly looked down upon Justine because she was nothing to them but a mere servant. They saw her only as another poor person that was basically contaminating their pure world. Someone’s wealth should have nothing to do with their innocence. Someone’s social stature should not automatically condemn them to death. Elizabeth gave a testimony in Justine’s favor and the jury still found her guilty. “All judges had rather that ten innocent should suffer then that one guilty should escape,” (72) exclaimed Victor after Justine was damned to die. It seems that the judge did not give her a fair trial. There was no concrete evidence that Justine indeed was the murderer and yet she was still sentenced to the death penalty.
How many innocent people die everyday because of social stereotypes and prejudices against certain types of people? Victor was right when he said that a judge would rather condemn ten innocent people then let one guilty person go. It seems to make people happy when they think that the law is in effect and that they are out there finding the people who are committing crimes, even though sometimes they catch the wrong people and the innocent suffer.
Frankenstein and Race to Execution
The ability to hire an attorney versus having a public defendant represent you for a crime you are accused of committing can make the difference between getting a sentence of death/life in prison, or being found innocent. If you are poor and a person of color, the percentage is even higher that you will be convicted. Race to Execution, was directed and co-produced by Rachel Lyon, and is a film that gives a depiction of how minorities, no matter the type of crime, will usually get the more serious punishment. The same is true of Justine, when she was accused of killing William in the book, Frankenstein, which was written by Mary Shelley.
Justine was not liked by her mother and was neglected. The Frankenstein family took her in and she was a servant. When William gets killed by the monster, they blame Justine for the crime based on evidence that was planted on her by the monster. At Justine’s trial, the only person who spoke on her behalf was Elizabeth. Even though several people knew Justine’s character, they refused to testify on her behalf because of “fear and hatred of the crime” that had been committed (Shelley 66). In fact, Justine had confessed to the crime because her confessor basically threatened her into believing she had killed someone. Justine was convicted and given death even though the monster’s creator knew she was innocent.
In the film Race to Execution, two classes of people are looked at. In one case, a white woman killed someone and received probation. In another case a black man was charged with theft and received seven years in prison. This was a classic case where having money allowed her to have a better defense team, which ensured she got a lean sentence compared to someone who had a much lesser offense. His crime did not fit the punishment. Robert Tarver was the black man accused of killing Hugh Kite, a white man n Alabama. A jury is supposed to be a jury of your peers, but this one had one black man on it. In Alabama, Robert probably got the death penalty. The same thing happened to Madison Hobley in Chicago. He was accused of setting a fire that killed his wife and son. Once again, the jury of his peers had one black man on it. There definitely needs to be a more diverse group of people from different ethnic backgrounds serving on juries.
I have seen specials on television where a person has been picked up for questioning and is kept awake for many hours being interrogated. Sometimes the person confesses to the crime even though they didn’t do it. This type of questioning is almost like brainwashing. The person will basically say anything just to get some rest, and that is wrong. I’ve also seen several articles in Jet Magazine where innocent men have been released from prison after serving many years for crimes they did not commit. In every case, it was because of new DNA evidence. Unfortunately, many other innocent men and women have died and some are still serving time without having had the opportunity to be cleared. A couple of years ago I read Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the U.S. The story was about a nun that becomes a pen pal to a death row inmate in Louisiana. It talked about how a poor person is more likely to get a public defender to represent him. Most of the public defenders have a lot of cases and are not willing or able to take the time needed to find witnesses and really do a good job representing their clients.
Justine is a character in the fiction novel by Marie Shelly’s Frankenstein who was convicted of murdering a young boy named William the reason why she was convicted so quickly because she was woman, and women back in those days was thought to have smaller brains than males. Plus they pressured her into confessing to the murder because of lack of evidence forensics wasn’t even heard of, furthermore the marks around Williams neck did not match her hands because of shoty, sexist police work a innocent woman had to die
Robert Tarver was an African-American who lived in a rural part of town of Alabama. It was here where Robert, became accused of murdering a white general store owner who name is Hugh Kite on September 15, 1984. Robert Tarver not only had a troubled past but was also that of lower social class/status than his alleged victim Hugh. Before the trial began Tarver’s prosecutor allowed eleven white people sit on the jury duty, and had rejected all but one African-American in jury duty! While the program continued on I stumbled across a unbelievable fact/statistic, people who are of a higher status and were murder their family more than likely seeks the death penalty for the defendant; in addition to this fact people who are killed that has a low social status their murderer may get life instead of death.
That’s exactly what had happen in this case, another fact arose in the program in Philadelphia, and a black man is seven times more likely to be sentence to death for committing murder; to back this up in Texas a black man is thirty times more likely to be sentenced to death. In Robert Tarver’s case he did not get a fair trial for two reasons one the jury was in a town where racism ran rampant and the change of venue was denied; second would have to be that DNA was not as advanced as it is today which sealed Tarver’s fate in the justice system.
Racism is hard thing to stop it has been embedded in this country since the beginning, and more or less of us all over the world have some racism in us. We have to leave it up to the courts to hold justice fair and scrutinize each case with the utmost respect for the people and the interest the verdict will carry good or bad.