Monday, November 21, 2005

Why I Don't Like the Death Penalty

JusticeCNN.com - Executed man may have been innocent - Nov 20, 2005. I am not opposed to the death penalty on moral or religious grounds. I oppose the death penalty because the criminal justice system is a government agency - actually many government agencies. As such it is as poorly run as any other government agency. The system does not always serve justice. Like most systems, it serves itself first.

This is a case in point
The eyewitness, Juan Moreno, told the Chronicle that it wasn't Cantu who shot him. Moreno said he identified Cantu as the killer during his 1985 trial because he felt pressured and was afraid of authorities.

Meanwhile, Cantu's co-defendant, David Garza, recently signed a sworn affidavit saying he allowed his friend to be accused, even though Cantu wasn't with him the night of the killing.
So it looks like Texas executed an innocent man.

When you consider the number of people on death row that have been exonerated by DNA evidence, and you consider that very many people are on death row for whom there is no DNA evidence to check, it is almost a foregone conclusion that innocent lives are going to be lost.

"The System" produced this pressure on witnesses to purjure themselves in a capital case. Police showed the witness Cantu's photograph 3 separate times. Is this system something you want to invest with the power to execute someone? Why were they so set on Cantu? (The witness had been an illegal alien at the time, and was afraid of police.)

And consider that any system built by humans and relying on human judgement is going to be imperfect.
Miriam Ward, forewoman of the jury that convicted Cantu, said the panel's decision was the best they could do based on the information presented during the trial.
Beyond a reasonable doubt, is not the same thing as beyond all doubt.
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer," says English jurist William Blackstone. People complain about supporting convicted murderers in prison. But how much is one innocent man's life worth? What if it was your life? [via KABA]

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