Capital punishment can be defined as a judicial process that involves an individual being subjected to some form of severe punishment for offences committed. After watching the films titled “Thin Blue line,” “the Empty chair” and “Fighting for life in the Death Belt,” it can be noticed that they all include the theme of capital punishment. In some cases, it can be observed that some of the victims undergo capital punishment for crimes they did not commit. This article is a reaction journal that will expound on the issues of capital punishment as expressed in the above movies. In the movie titled the “Thin Blue Line,” Robert Woods, who is a police officer in Dallas is murdered by an individual who he had stopped for violating traffic rules. As fate would have it, Randall Adams is convicted for the crime and consequently is sentenced to life imprisonment. 12 years into his conviction, an individual who has testified as the chief witness in his case, David Harris, is found guilty for a different murder and is served with the death sentence.
As the movie comes to an end, Harris confesses to have also murdered Wood and Adams is therefore set free. As one watches this film, it is difficult to miss the filmmaker’s strong opposition against capital punishment as the film exposes flaws in the criminal justice system that erroneously send many convicts to their death, some for crimes they did not commit. The movie “The empty chair” is also another movie in which capital punishment is included. This film explores an experience that many would find very difficult to deal with: that of dealing with the events following the murdering of a close member of one’s family.
The storyline is about four loss stories one being that of Renny Cushing who had to deal with the murder of his father at the hands of a neighbor who also happens to be a police officer. The other story of loss is that of Sue Norton whose parents were not only robbed but also shot for a pickup truck and 61 USD. The other two loss stories are those of Peter and Sue Lowenstein and Susan Ramuda, whose son was murdered over Lockerbie and whose daughter was crushed to death with a rock, respectively. On a closer look these films, one gets to realize that they are about the struggles that individuals deal with following the loss of loved ones. While some will push for capital punishment to be applied to the murderers of their loved ones, others oppose the measure. For instance, Cushing turns in to a strong advocate against the death penalty sentence and heads an organization that advocates for reconciliation of the victims’ families. Interestingly, Norton becomes very a very close friend of the individual who murdered his parents and even fights, though in vain, to save the murderer from the death penalty.
Those for the death penalty in the movie are represented by Ramunda who becomes a strong advocate for the death penalty and in many instances, is a counterpart of Cushing. Personally, I do not advocate for the death sentence and as such, I naturally found Norton’s and Cushing’s philosophies more compelling as I watched the movie. To some extent, I also think the makers of the film also think the same given that they seem to include Cushing in the most unforgettable moments. In the movie, Cushing argues against the death penalty by terming it as a symbol of failure by the society to satisfy the victims’ needs. Another sentence that is likely to keep lingering in the minds of viewers is the one where Cushing calls healing a process and not an event. To him, the healing process is usually characterized by forgiveness but execution only goes to show the affected individuals’ lack of forgiveness. I completely concur with this statement and frankly, I think the makers of the films do as well.
Yet another film that tackles the capital punishment issue is “Fighting for life in the Death-bed.” This film is an examination of this issue from Stephen Bright’s perspective. Bright, in the film, is among the leading lawyers in the land advocating against the death penalty, and has done so for more than two decades. The film concentrates on the remaining few days and hours of two of his clients as he vehemently tries to save them from being executed. Even though both men are found guilty of having engaged in horrible crimes, Bright comes up with strong statements challenging the stand of the criminal justice system to execute his clients. In conclusion, capital punishment is still an issue that evokes strong emotions going by the numerous debates concerning the issue. This journal has explored three films all of which are against the death sentence.
In my personal view, I think capital punishment is too extreme a measure especially when applied wrongly to innocent victims just as shown in the “Thin blue line.” Even for cases where the convicted individuals are guilty of grave crimes, the society should seek ways of rehabilitation and forgiving these individuals instead of subjecting them to death.