6 teen weeks and counting

{September 26, 2011}   Legalized Murder?

Perhaps the bleakest fact of all is that the death penalty is imposed not only in a freakish and discriminatory manner, but also in some cases upon defendants who are actually innocent.  – Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., 1994

With the execution of Troy Davis this week, there has been a lot of debating on the use of the death penalty in the United States.  Troy Davis was executed on September 21st, 2011 despite a weak case against him and recanted eyewitness testimony.  How can we continue to support the death penalty when it’s a flawed system that can take the lives of the innocent?

Those that argue in favor of the death penalty believe that the fear of being put to death is a crime deterrent.  This is simply false.  Statistics show the opposite; States with the death penalty often times have higher crime rates than those states that have abolished the death penalty.  Some argue that the death penalty gives closure to the victims families.  To answer that, I found this story on http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org;

Ronald Carlson wanted vengeance when his sister was murdered in 1983 in Texas.  But when he witnessed the execution in 1998 of the person who committed the murder he changed his mind.   In a recent op-ed in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Carlson said he  had no opinion on capital punishment before his sister’s death and remembers feeling hatred and “would have killed those responsible with my own hands if given the opportunity.” But he later discovered that, “Watching the execution left me with horror and emptiness, confirming what I had already come to realize: Capital punishment only continues the violence that has a powerful, corrosive effect on society.”

The fact is, the death penalty costs more, does not act as a deterrent, does not always provide closure for the victims’ families, and frankly (and also in my opinion) it’s outdated and useless.  It does not bring back the victim.

The other day as I was driving around town, I was listening to NPR and briefly heard this debate on one of the stations programs.  I apologize as I do not know which program was airing or who was representing her opinion of abolishing the death penalty but I do remember a story that she had told that had stuck with me.  Cameron Todd Willingham lost his three daughters in a house fire in Corsicana, Texas.  He was arrested and eventually convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his children.  He was accused of setting fire to his house in attempt to cover up alleged abuse of his children.  Cameron escaped the fire with minor burns, his wife (mother to the girls) was out shopping.  In his trial, his wife told the jury that Cameron never had abused the children.

The police investigation determined that the fire had been started by some form of liquid accelerant.  After Cameron’s death, it was determined that the investigations outcome of arson was based on flawed science.  In 2004, a panel had determined that every indication of arson in the original investigation could be scientifically proven invalid (this was after his Cameron’s death).  It seemingly appeared more and more that the state of Texas executed an innocent, grieving father.

The death penalty should have no place in our modern society.  I’d like to think that our values today have evolved since medieval time and that the death penalty has no moral place in our society today.  If you don’t believe that, then simply put yourself or a loved one in the shoes of one of these innocent people who have been murder by our government.  Because that is exactly what happens when we put to death the innocent.  It’s murder.


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