Death Penalty

Is the Justice System Just?

In 1983, Ronald Post murdered a hotel employee, and he was sentenced to death. During his time in jail, the inmate gained enormous weight, which allowed him to argue in federal court that his obesity would turn the death penalty into a cruel punishment since it would be hard for the prison official to find the vein for the lethal injection. This case caused a great public debate and questioned the effectiveness of the American justice system.

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Emotional Reaction to the Video and Articles

Offered videos and articles about this issue make a double impression. First, the headlines of news reports make the entire case seem ridiculous. Thus, the hosts from Pillo’s (2012) video make rather relevant observations that it is absurd that the inmate escapes the death penalty because it is hard to reach his vein, and after several tries, the nurse will eventually find it. Next, the commentator correctly stresses that if the inmate has “some medical problems” (Pillo, 2012), due to which he cannot be executed, the lethal injection will make these issues irrelevant. Thereby, at first glance, it is impossible to believe that such a case of avoidance of punishment could take place.

However, after becoming familiar with all details of the matter, I see that the situation with Ronald Post is rather serious and troubling. HNL’s video has demonstrated how frustrating the ineffectiveness of the justice system may be for the victims who wait for their abusers to be punished (Grace, 2012). I was deeply annoyed with the fact that murderers could use such a stupid excuse to avoid their punishment. Moreover, I was very irritated with Post’s case because it was mentioned that this was not the first time when a death row inmate tried to escape execution due to obesity (Pfeiffer, 2012). This means that officials and lawyers are aware of such attempts, and yet, they have done nothing to eliminate the possibility of using excess weight as a reason to avoid the penalty.

Finally, I was bothered by the fact that common people could not do something about this situation. Thus, the son of murdered Helen Vantz has waited for almost 30 years for justice to be realized and for the criminal to be punished, but now, he can only trace how the person who has killed his mother continues to live (Grace, 2012). It is evident that many TV channels and the press have discussed this issue, and all offered media sources support the victim, claiming that it is unfair that the inmate has not been executed. Nonetheless, regardless of the public discussion and its unacceptance of the cancellation of Post’s death penalty, the justice system is not revised yet to avoid such cases in the future.

Realizations After Reading Articles and Watching Videos

The first thing I have learned after watching the videos and reading the articles is that although the questions of justice and ethics are on the same plane, it is obvious that it is very difficult making correct decisions, especially when it comes to the issues of the death penalty. It is clear that from the point of view of the victim, the criminal should be executed regardless of their health condition. Thus, in Ronald Post’s case, the prison officials should have performed the execution because he had been found guilty and justice should be the same for everyone. However, as mentioned by Post’s attorney, the excessive weight of the inmate might not allow him to die quickly and painlessly (Cox, 2012). Thereby, from the point of view of morality, it is apparent that Post should be released from his punishment; otherwise, the executors will turn into violent murderers like the inmate himself. Therefore, it is very difficult to find the appropriate correct decision in such a situation.

The second thing I have realized is that it is almost impossible to develop a perfect justice system that would manage every single case properly. The justice system should be created in a way to handle all matters in the justest and fair way. However, there will always be some cases that would either make exclusions from some rules or the issues that will require further discussion. I view the justice system as not something rigid or permanent. It is a complex of laws that should always be in permanent transformation: after some controversial case, they should be revised, and the corresponding legislation should be reevaluated to match the contemporary or newly emerged circumstances.

Questions About Criminal Justice System

At first glance, it may seem that these articles and videos raise the question of whether the US justice system is truly just and effective. It is obvious that Ronald Post successfully avoids the death penalty by claiming that primarily his weight does not allow him to be executed. As mentioned by the speaker in one of the videos, Post’s excuses sound ridiculous (Pillo, 2012). The criminal’s attorney has probably found a way to help him avoid being executed, which means that the existing justice system is imperfect since it gives opportunities for criminals to find legal methods of escaping their punishment. Thereby, the second question raised is whether the entire US justice system requires some reform. Should the laws be stricter, and should the extenuating circumstances be excluded from the American legislation to perform justice? Simultaneously, should a single case be turned into the source of any serious legal reform? The cancellation of Post’s death sentence can create a precedent, but should it be the reason to talk about the ineffectiveness of the US justice system?

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Additionally, considering the statements of doctors that it might take up to 16 hours to make the lethal injection work due to the weight of the inmate, the question arises whether replacing the death sentence with life imprisonment could be a better option. It is claimed that according to the laws of the state of Ohio, the execution should be quick and painless (Cox, 2012). However, it is impossible to perform the execution while simultaneously, the highest form of punishment according to the justice system in this state is the death sentence. Thereby, if the inmate may have a chance to escape the lethal injection while the victims wait for the verdict to be executed, both the victims and the general public will not forgive the justice system that the criminal has been unpunished. Thus, the question of whether the death penalty is relevant to US society also remains open.

My Words to the Victims

The first thing I would like to say to the victims is that I understand their frustration and disappointment with the past and contemporary justice system in Ohio. The son of the murdered woman expected justice to be served and for the law to protect his interests, which would bring a justified ending to the case of the murder of his mother. William Vantz in his interview with the Morning Journal newspaper stresses that all people have recourse to the law and that it is time for the killer to pay his debt to society (Ortiz, 2012). I would like to tell him that I share his strive for equal resolution and equal penalties for every criminal regardless of their health conditions or any other circumstances. The law should be the same for everyone, and if the laws of Ohio determine the death penalty for the murder, he should be executed. Otherwise, it becomes evident that common citizens simply cannot rely on the existing justice system because it allows criminals like Post to avoid punishment.

The second thing I would like to say to the victims is that although the killer has been allowed to live, his existence is already miserable enough, so calling his life full and proper is also incorrect. From the legal point of view, Post deserved his punishment – the death penalty. He has avoided it, which is incorrect and unjust, but living an unhealthy life and permanently fearing execution is perhaps even a more severe punishment than simple quick, and painless death. Living for almost 30 years behind bars, suffering from obesity, stress, and depression – I believe this is enough of punishment itself, and the victims should be satisfied because the life of Post is already ruined (Pfeiffer, 2012). Finally, I would like to encourage William Vantz by emphasizing that his case has already drawn the attention not only of the lawyers but also of the regular people, which means that the problems of the contemporary justice system have become more evident. This fact might push people to demand some law reform, which eventually will make the entire legal system more effective and just, thus allowing citizens to feel safer and protected by the law.

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Possible Changes in the Criminal Justice System

After analyzing Ronald Post’s case, considering all I have learned and the conclusions I have made based on the discussed issue, I do not think that the US justice system requires any serious reform. On the contrary, I think it works completely fine. Although the legislation claims that the criminal should be executed, it still allows him to escape a long and painful death. This means that the American justice system is not only fair but also humane. The criminal was not released, he was in prison for almost 30 years, and he was not able to harm anyone. This means that the law has done its job and protected society from a dangerous person, while the criminal has also been treated as an equal human being who does not deserve any torture. Thus, the justice system is effective.

The only aspect of the US legislation system that should be revised and reformed is the death sentence itself. It creates several controversial issues and permanently raises questions and debates. Additionally, it is clear that there are obstacles to the execution of the death sentence, and it is even more obvious that criminals will continue using any possible methods to escape this form of punishment. Thereby, in my opinion, to eliminate such cases as Post’s and prevent another circle of public debate on the question of whether it is correct to cancel the death penalty due to some personal issues, it would be correct to cancel this type of punishment altogether and replace it with life imprisonment in all states.


It may be concluded that although the American justice system might seem to have some weaknesses and limitations since the issues like the case of Ronald Post occurred, it still functions. Moreover, it is very effective. Any legislation system is imperfect, and thus, criminals might always find a gap in some law to escape their punishment. However, Ronald Post’s case demonstrates that even though the inmate avoided the death penalty, he remains imprisoned, which means he could not harm anyone anymore. Thus, the US justice system has fulfilled its primary function – to protect citizens from dangerous criminals.

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