As has been noted many times in this space, I suppor the death penalty for every possible reason except one – the possibility, indeed (given human nature) likelihood of executing the innocent.
And that is the only problem that matters; since life incarceration without parole is every bit as secure as the death penalty, and gets the prisoner just securely off the streets as death – and is reversible, if an error happens – then as much as I believe some criminals genuinely deserve death, it is the only genuinely moral approach.
Especially given this bit of news; DNA testing has just yielded its’ 200th complete exoneration:
The details of the latest exoneration are typically nightmarish: Jerry Miller served 25 years for a rape conviction and had already been paroled when DNA tests showed he could not have been the man who attacked a woman in a Chicago parking garage.
What’s also troubling is how common these exonerations have become since the first reversal in 1989. It took 13 years to reach the first 100 DNA exonerations, but just five to double that number. For prosecutors and judges, as well as defense attorneys, the exonerations raise a larger question: How many others, innocent of their crimes, are behind bars?
Advocates for extensive changes in the way cases are investigated and prosecuted see the 200 as the tip of a huge iceberg and use the word “epidemic.”
And if it’s truly that big a problem (and I allow in advance that it is in the various DNA, anti-death-penalty and reform advocates’ interest for us to think that it is), doesn’t that strike hard at the validity of the death sentence, at the very least? If not the way prosecuting attorneys handle cases on a shockingly broad basis?