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Thread: How America's death penalty murders innocents

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default How America's death penalty murders innocents

    The evidence is in: the US criminal justice system produces wrongful convictions on an industrial scale with fatal results
    Death row unit in Huntsville, Texas. Photograph: Greg Smith/Corbis

    The US criminal justice system is a broken machine that wrongfully convicts innocent people, sentencing thousands of people to prison or to death for the crimes of others, as a new study reveals. The University of Michigan law school and Northwestern University have compiled a new National Registry of Exonerations a database of over 2,000 prisoners exonerated between 1989 and the present day, when DNA evidence has been widely used to clear the names of innocent people convicted of rape and murder. Of these, 885 have profiles developed for the registry's website, exonerationregistry.org.

    The details are shocking. Death row inmates were exonerated nine times more frequently than others convicted of murder. One-fourth of those exonerated of murder had received a death sentence, while half of those who had been wrongfully convicted of rape or murder faced death or a life behind bars. Ten of the inmates went to their grave before their names were cleared.
    The leading causes of wrongful convictions include perjury, flawed eyewitness identification and prosecutorial misconduct. For those who have placed unequivocal faith in the US criminal justice system and believe that all condemned prisoners are guilty of the crime of which they were convicted, the data must make for a rude awakening.
    "The most important thing we know about false convictions is that they happen and on a regular basis Most false convictions never see the light of the day," said University of Michigan law professors Samuel Gross and Michael Shaffer, who wrote the study.
    "Nobody had an inkling of the serious problem of false confessions until we had this data," said Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University.

    The unveiling of the exoneration registry comes days after a groundbreaking study from Columbia law school Professor James Liebman and 12 students. Published in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, the study describes how Texas executed an innocent man named Carlos DeLuna in 1989. DeLuna was put to death for the 1983 murder of Wanda Lopez, a young woman, at a gas station. Carlos Hernandez, who bragged about committing the murder and bore a striking resemblance to DeLuna, was named at trial by DeLuna's defence team as the actual perpetrator of the crime. But DeLuna's false conviction is merely the tip of the iceberg, as the database suggests.
    Recently also, Charlie Baird, a Texas judge, was prepared to issue an order posthumously exonerating Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for the 1991 arson-related deaths of his three young daughters. Based upon "overwhelming, credible and reliable evidence", Baird concluded Willingham had been wrongfully convicted; this in addition to a jailhouse witness who recanted his testimony, and scientists who challenged the evidence at trial that the fire that destroyed the Willingham home was caused by arson. Baird was blocked by a state appeals court from issuing the order before he left the bench to pursue private practice.

    And again in Texas, lawyers for Kerry Max Cook, a former death row prisoner who was wrongfully convicted of a 1977 murder in East Texas, claim that the district attorney in the case withheld in his possession the murder weapon and biological evidence in the case.
    In 2012, the American death penalty has reached a crossroads. Public support for executions has decreased over the years, with capital punishment critics citing its high cost, failure to deter crime, and the fact that the practice places the nation out of step with international human rights norms. Last year, the US ranked fifth in the world in executions, a member of a select club of nations that includes China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. Further, in the US states that have repealed the death penalty in recent years including New Mexico, New Jersey, Illinois and, most recently, Connecticut the killing of the innocent has been cited as a pivotal factor in favor of abolition.

    Meanwhile, thanks to an EU embargo on lethal injection drugs to the US, states that practice capital punishment are faced with a shortage of poison to execute prisoners. Some have resorted to purchasing unapproved drug supplies on the black market, or using different chemicals altogether. For example, Ohio has abandoned its three-drug protocol for executions in favor of a single drug called pentobarbital, a barbiturate used to euthanize animals. And Missouri has decided to execute prisoners using propofol, a surgical anesthetic implicated in Michael Jackson's death.
    Apparently desperate and lacking in options to kill, these states would be better-served by joining the civilized world and devoting their efforts to end the death penalty, rather than find new methods to satisfy their bloodlust which, as the new evidence makes abundantly clear, cannot but cause them to execute innocent citizens. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 140 men and women have been released from death row since 1973 due to innocence. That death row inmates are exonerated much more often than other categories of prisoner even when a person's life is at stake should shatter anyone's faith in the presumed infallibility of the court system.
    It is now transparent to the public that, at best, the application of the death penalty is rife with human error and incompetence. At worst, we know there is prosecutorial misconduct: that the courts shelter and nurture officials who are rewarded for gaming the system by career advancement, rather than determining true guilt or innocence and ensuring that justice is done.

    How America's death penalty murders innocents | David A Love | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    I think the death penalty is used too much in the United States, but I am very comfortable with it being used on John Wayne Gacy, Danny Rolling, William Bonin, Gary Gilmour, David Alan Gore, Michael Ross, and Ted Bundy.
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    As long as there is no doubt & the muder was brutal I think it is deserved. Just make sure first.
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    Elite Member Sarzy's Avatar
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    A civilized country does not have the death penalty. And one mistake is one too many.

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    Elite Member stef's Avatar
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    ^^ i totally agree with sarzy.

    Last year, the US ranked fifth in the world in executions, a member of a select club of nations that includes China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran.
    what a nice club to be a part of.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Below is a list of condemned whose demise needs to be speeded up:

    Lawrence Bittaker

    Charles Ng

    Richard Allen Davis

    Scott Erskine

    Randy Kraft

    Richard Ramirez

    Cary Stayner

    Marcus Wesson

    Brandon Wilson (thought he was still alive, but apparently saved everyone the additional expense by killing himself late last year. I'm sure he's tossing salad in Hell as I write this)

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Another guy (James Lee Crummel) on San Quentin's death row, who just offed himself:

    James Lee Crummel, San Quentin Death Row Inmate, Found Hanging In Cell

    SAN QUENTIN, Calif. -- California prison officials say a death row inmate convicted of killing a 13-year-old boy has committed suicide.
    The state Department of Corrections says 68-year-old James Lee Crummel was pronounced dead Sunday after being found hanging in his cell at San Quentin State Prison.
    Crummel had been on death row since being convicted in 2004 of kidnapping, molesting and killing James Wilfred Trotter. The boy disappeared on his way to school in Orange County in 1979.
    Prosecutors said Crummel lived on the same Costa Mesa street where Trotter's family lived.
    The boy's body wasn't found until 1990, when Crummel told police he'd found a skull while hiking in the Cleveland National Forest in Riverside County. The body wasn't identified until 1996.
    Crummel's attorney said at his sentencing that her client couldn't express regret for a crime he did not commit.

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    Gold Member VeraGemini's Avatar
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    Some crimes are so heinous that even death by slow torture isn't punishment enough, but we don't do that. We can't do that and remain a civilized society.

    The death penalty in the US is not meted out fairly, and it may not even be possible to make it fair without bankrupting the system.

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    Unless we can develop a foolproof method of determining someone's guilt or innocence then the death penalty shouldn't be an option. On the other hand is loss of liberty sufficient punishment for some of these monsters who are guilty beyond any doubt. Tricky.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Having the death penalty has nothing to do with whether a society is civilized or not.

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    Elite Member Sarzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MohandasKGanja View Post
    Having the death penalty has nothing to do with whether a society is civilized or not.
    Yes I think it does. Civilized societies don't have what is basically state sanctioned murder. Killing people for killing is not civilized. A country that kills INNOCENT people because oopsy they made a mistake, is not civilized.

    Just look at the other countries that choose to have the death penalty. Like Stef said, not a great club to belong to.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarzy View Post
    Yes I think it does. Civilized societies don't have what is basically state sanctioned murder. Killing people for killing is not civilized. A country that kills INNOCENT people because oopsy they made a mistake, is not civilized.

    Just look at the other countries that choose to have the death penalty. Like Stef said, not a great club to belong to.
    Capital punishment is a justifiable homicide meted out as the ultimate punishment that the citizens have collectively decided fits into their legal statutes as a punishment for an egregious wrong. In my opinion, serial child killers need to be dead; allowing them to live, and taxing the citizens to pay for their upkeep for the next 40+ years following conviction after fair and transparent legal proceedings, is uncivilized.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Only poor people are subject to the death penalty in the US. Just one of my many issues as relates to capital punishment.
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    Anytime you put developmentally challenged folks to death...there's a problem!!
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    Elite Member stef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MohandasKGanja View Post
    Capital punishment is a justifiable homicide meted out as the ultimate punishment that the citizens have collectively decided fits into their legal statutes as a punishment for an egregious wrong. In my opinion, serial child killers need to be dead; allowing them to live, and taxing the citizens to pay for their upkeep for the next 40+ years following conviction after fair and transparent legal proceedings, is uncivilized.
    that's the problem.
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