Why I Oppose the Death Penalty: Part CCXLII

The reliability and justice of the death penalty is only as the integrity of the prosecutors who press for it.

And as we see in this case, we have a way to go:

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced that 51-year-old Albert Johnson had been arrested for the brutal rape and murder of two three-year-old girls in the 1990s. Johnson had been an early suspect in both cases, but despite the fact that the state had samples of his DNA on file for more than a decade, it never bothered to test it against the DNA found in the little girls.

That’s because Mississippi District Attorney Forrest Allgood decided early on in both cases that he had his man, and little could convince him otherwise. One of those men is Kennedy Brewer, a mentally handicapped man who served more than a decade on Mississippi’s Death Row, then served another five years even after DNA evidence had cleared him. Allgood insisted on retrying Brewer anyway, arguing that bite marks on the little girl’s body matched Brewer’s teeth.

Curiously, Allgood resisted testing the DNA from the crime scene against that of a man he had earlier convicted of an eerily similar crime—another rape and murder of a young girl in the same area. It now seems clear why Allgood resisted the test. As it turns out, the man he’d convicted for that crime, Levon Brooks, is innocent, too. Brooks had been sentenced to life in prison.

Hood is expected to announce on Thursday that Brewer has been completely exonerated. A similar announcement for Brooks could also come Thursday, or perhaps a few days after.

Science – DNA testing, in this case – might be a cure for human imperfection.  But as we’ve seen, it takes more than science to fight duplicity and depravity.

4 thoughts on “Why I Oppose the Death Penalty: Part CCXLII

  1. It seems your problem is not with the death penalty so much as it is prosecutorial malpractice. It’s hard to argue that death isn’t a just penalty for some offenders.

  2. The deification of scientists (and DNA technicians) is also troubling. They can, and regularly do, make mistakes and far most often than most folks think.

    That said, there is a place for the death penalty, but it should be very rare and only in the most exceptional of cases. bin Laden anyone? (Mitch weaseled on that one, only opining that he hoped the military wouldn’t let him come to trial.)

  3. Can’t tell you how surprised I was to learn there are graduates in other states from the Mike Nifong Law School and Termite Eradication Service.
    I would hope that in a few weeks all will not be good for Allgood.
    Disbarment as a introductory first step would be nice.
    That being said, the death penalty has been shown to be an effective preventative:
    http://www.savagerepublican.com/2006/09/1112.html (and be sure to follow all the links including the links to the study on the death penalty).
    So Mitch, read the article and all links and feel free to reply.
    And remember as I wrote that I was a former opponent of the death penalty.

  4. I still point out the fact that there is a grave injustice served if Alphonso Rodriguez and Donald Blum are given the same sentence as someone who is convicted 3 times of carrying a pound of marijuana (in 3-strikes states).

    I’m also surprised that Forrest (gump) Allgood’s (IRONIC name) prosecutorial methods haven’t come under scrutiny.

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