Nicholas Kristoff has published an opinion piece in the New York Times on the death penalty: When We Kill.
He looks and reasons in favor of the death penalty and counters them, often relying on studies and specific cases. Read the whole article, but here is Kristoff’s summation:
There is no evidence that the death penalty deters. It costs hundreds of thousands of additional dollars per prisoner. It is steeped in caprice, arbitrariness and racial bias. It is fallible — and when it fails, it undermines the legitimacy of our judicial system.
Kristoff also notes that:
One peer-reviewed study suggested that at least 4.1 percent of those sentenced to death in the United States are innocent. With more than 2,700 Americans on death row, that would imply that more than 110 innocent people are awaiting execution.
Wouldn’t killing one innocent person be one too many?
On April 3, 2015, Anthony Ray Hinton walked from a prison in Birmingham, a free man. Free after almost thirty years on death row. Thirty years spent in the shadow of execution – for a crime he did not commit.
The Death Penalty Information Center notes that Hinton is the 152nd person sentenced to death to be exonerated since 1973.
The New York Times cites two documented cases in which individuals who were almost certainly innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted were put to death.
The possibility of executing one innocent person should give us considerable pause. It provides a strong argument against capital punishment.
Speaking after Hinton’s release, “Bryan Stevenson, one of Mr. Hinton’s lawyers and the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, said Mr. Hinton’s right to justice had been limited as an impoverished black man.”
The racial and economic inequities in the application of justice in relation to provide additional arguments against capital punishment.
The exoneration of Anthony Ray Hinton and the others prove that the system does work, however long it may take the wheels to grind.
But when the sentence is death and serious inequities exist, the stakes are simply too high.
It is time to end the death penalty.
See you along the Trail.