Sunday, December 16, 2007

The switch

It scares me just how motivated people here in Very Red State are so willing to pull the switch and end someone's life. I understand the arguments for the death penalty -- deterrence, the ultimate punishment for heinous crimes, the cost of keeping someone locked up for life, etc, etc. In fact, there was even a time in my life when I half-heartedly supported the death penalty, but that was also because I lived in a state where it was never used (and in fact, I just realized my home state only has the federal death penalty). It's easy to have a blood thirst when you don't realize what's going on in terms of fair trials, DNA evidence that's overlooked/ignored, witnesses who are unreliable, lawyers who are incompetent, etc. When I moved to Very Red State, I didn't understand why people weren't willing to wait 30 days to reconsider evidence. If the evidence proves the person is guilty, fine, but if not? Then what? My main opposition for the death penalty is that it is IRREVERSIBLE.

You can convict someone wrongly (and it happens every day), sentence them to jail, and whoops, they're innocent, so you set them free. Yes, they've lost time, they've lost opportunities, etc., but at least they have a chance at a normal life. With the Death Penalty, if the person is innocent, then there's nothing you can do once the drug cocktail is administered. I don't have an issue with 'cruel and unusual' (I wonder how 'cruel and unusual' stacks up to how most of the victims die), but I do have an issue with the fact that innocent people may have been executed. To me, all of the other reasons FOR the death penalty are invalidated on the basis that mistakes do and have happened. I can't support, in good conscience, a system that is so imperfect that its consequences are irreversible.

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