The Myth About Capital Punishment

It's time to discuss one of the loves of America's far right that is also the most demeaning and unchristian action America participates in. I'm speaking of the death penalty.

To quote one of the greatest thinkers in history, Albert Camus:

"An execution is not simply death. It is just as different from the privation of life as a concentration camp is from prison. It adds to death a rule, a public premeditation known to the future victim, an organization which is itself a source of moral sufferings more terrible than death. Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life."

Ladies and gentlemen, after exhaustive research, I have found exactly zero proof that there is any preventive measures that can be attributed to the death penalty. Granted, I have found reports from such far right groups as the Heritage Foundation that actually make the insulting statement that "no prisoner executed has ever again committed a crime". Gosh, what a mature statement, huh? That isn't proof that capital punishment works, that is only proof that the author's brain doesn't.

Here are some very scary facts to consider:

Studies have shown that, in this century alone, 400 innocent people were convicted of capital crimes and 23 were executed. Those 23 will never be pardoned.

The Government Accounting Office found, in 1990, that in "82% of the (reviewed cases), race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e., those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks." Nevertheless, the Supreme Court actually ruled, by a 5 to 4 majority, that "apparent disparities in sentencing are an inevitable part of our criminal justice system". (Sorry, all you non-white defendants, you're out of luck just because, well, you know, these things happen.)

It costs $1.25 million more to sentence someone to death than life in prison without possibility of parole.

The United States is in the rarefied company of other death penalty countries such as Iran, Iraq, China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. In fact, in 1996, Texas alone executed more people that Iran or Iraq.

When the death penalty was abolished in Canada and France, the homicide rate actually fell by a small percentage.

Now, here are some actual individuals who have been murdered by the American criminal justice system:

1) Roger Keith Coleman was executed 5/20/92 even though:

a) evidence was kept from the court that showed conclusively that Coleman was not the killer.

b) His court appointed lawyer filed an appeal in regard to that evidence one day late and was denied the right to argue due to that mistake.

c) Even the prosecutor admitted that there might be a reasonable doubt as to his guilt but refused to enter that statement in court.

2) Edward Earl Johnson was executed 5/20/87 (a popular day to kill the innocent) even though:

a) It was learned that his confession was forced by threatening his life and his grandmother's by a sheriff.

b) The only witness to the murder he was charged with at first firmly stated that he had no resemblance to the killer. Only after the sheriff threatened Johnson did the witness suddenly change her testimony.

c) His attorneys made numerous mistakes which negated any possibility of a fair trial or appeals. After his death, his last attorneys stated that he should never have been brought to trial, let alone murdered by the state.

The list of innocent people murdered by our criminal justice system is long and shameful. Prosecutors with political ambition but no moral compass, police that just want to clear the case off the books, witnesses with faulty or manipulated memories are just a few of the causes of these crimes against Americans. There is never an acceptable reason to kill an innocent human being, no matter what the far right would have you believe. It always remains possible to pardon someone serving life but it is impossible to acquit a corpse.

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Copyright 6/20/97