I am opposed to the death penalty for many reasons, but chief among them is the possibility that innocent people are mistakenly put to death.
As a person who was arrested and tried for a crime he did not commit, I understand the possibility of the criminal justice system making an error all too well.
To date, 143 people in America have been sentenced to death, only to be released later on when new evidence exonerated them of their crimes. These men and women spent an average of 10 years on death row before being granted their freedom.
Death penalty proponents don’t seem to care about these statistics. Perhaps they think that the chances of being mistakenly convicted of a crime are so low that they don’t need to worry about it.
Sure, it happened to 143 people so far (that we know if), but not me.
They also argue that the system is working. Though innocent men and women have been sentenced to death, no innocent person has been executed.
This is probably not true.
The Death Penalty Information Center has published a list of 10 inmates "executed but possibly innocent". At least 39 executions are claimed to have been carried out in the U.S. in the face of evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt.
The idea that no innocent person has been executed in this country, based upon the exonerations that have taken place so far, is naïve at best.
All this leads me to a recent discovery:
Under Idaho law, three crimes are punishable by death:
- First degree murder with aggravating factors
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Perjury causing execution of an innocent person
Doesn’t that third crime all but acknowledge that the possibility of executing an innocent person exists?
How can the death penalty continue to exist in a place where the state admits to the possibility of killing an innocent citizen?