The Death Penalty relies upon a perfect justice system

But, of course, we don't have one do we?

My stance on the death penalty was changed a number of years ago when I read a report in The Economist magazine about the amount of errors in sentencing that many death row inmates seemed to get. I can't remember the exact detail, but I vaguely remember that 5% of people executed in the US had not gone through a "fair trial". Moreover, the evidence showed that in many cases, innocent people had been executed.

5% doesn't sound like much, but if an alternative to the death penalty is available (ie life in prison) then any mistakes made during a trial can result in recompense. Once a person is dead, however, the state can't compensate the innocent dead.

Now, however, it seems as though there is more to these cases than just incompetent judicial procedures. It seems as though in many cases there was a deliberate desire for malicious punishment.

Richard Moran, commenting in The New York Times, says this:
My recently completed study of the 124 exonerations of death row inmates in America from 1973 to 2007 indicated that 80, or about two-thirds, of their so-called wrongful convictions resulted not from good-faith mistakes or errors but from intentional, willful, malicious prosecutions by criminal justice personnel. (There were four cases in which a determination could not be made one way or another.)

Yet too often this behavior is not singled out and identified for what it is. When a prosecutor puts a witness on the stand whom he knows to be lying, or fails to turn over evidence favorable to the defense, or when a police officer manufactures or destroys evidence to further the likelihood of a conviction, then it is deceptive to term these conscious violations of the law — all of which I found in my research — as merely mistakes or errors.

Mistakes are good-faith errors — like taking the wrong exit off the highway, or dialing the wrong telephone number. There is no malice behind them. However, when officers of the court conspire to convict a defendant of first-degree murder and send him to death row, they are doing much more than making an innocent mistake or error. They are breaking the law.

Perhaps this explains why, even when a manifestly innocent man is about to be executed, a prosecutor can be dead set against reopening an old case. Since so many wrongful convictions result from official malicious behavior, prosecutors, policemen, witnesses or even jurors and judges could themselves face jail time for breaking the law in obtaining an unlawful conviction.
But what would motivate law enforcement officials to conspire against a defendant? Remember that a disproportionate number of death row inmates are African-American...

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