Thursday, July 24, 2008

Death penalty again

My previous entry on the death penalty got a response from a Mr. Dudley Sharp, and I will take this time to respond to that response before any more time passes.

First, let me state here that I don't deny that there are certain bleeding heart types that try to get even the worst offenders out of prison much sooner than the time that they are supposed to serve. I also state here that I do not favor such practices - especially if the offender in question had committed a particularly heinous crime and does not seem to be remorseful for it. Charles Manson comes to mind. He should stay in prison for life.

I also object to "glorifying" high-profile prisoners as some sort of heroic victim of the "evil and corrupt justice system". Glorifying such people and trying to get such people out of prison before they've fully served their sentences only hurts the credibility of those who promote such views. They often sound insensitive of the victims and their families who suffered by the actions of those criminals. While there may indeed be a few who were unjustly imprisoned, the majority of those in prison are there for a reason.

That said, I can't accept the execution of even one innocent person. Like I said in my previous entry, executing an innocent person is not justice but a grave INjustice. Sharp's own response stated that "possibly we have sentenced 20-25 actually innocent people since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced". Because of the finality of an execution that is carried out, that's 20-25 too many that could have been executed. While 0.3% may seem extremely low, what if you were one of those innocents scheduled to be executed? When you are strapped to the gurney about to have the lethal injection pumped into your veins, are you going to be calm and relaxed and satisfied with telling yourself, "At least I'll die knowing that these types of executions are extremely rare"? Or is it more likely that you're going to go down screaming that they are executing the wrong man?

We live in an imperfect world, and yet the death penalty assumes that we can know with absolute certainty that we're executing the right person. Thing is, we CAN'T know, and even Sharp acknowledges as much with his 0.3% statistic of those who were later found innocent. The assumption of perfection is unacceptable and it is inconsistent with the concept of justice. Either we do the death penalty right, or we don't do it at all.

1 comment:

dudleysharp said...


You left out some very important points from my post.

The most important being that innocents are more at risk without the death penalty

No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.

Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.

That is. logically, conclusive.

Living murderers, in prison, after release or escape or after our failures to incarcerate them, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.

Although this is, obviously a truism, it is surprising how often folks overlook the enhanced incapacitation benefits of the death penalty over incarceration.

There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US since 1900. The proof is overwhelming that murderers harm and murder, again.

16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, find for death penalty deterrence.

A surprise? No.

Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.

Lots of government and private programs result in innocents killed. Would you get rid of all of them?