20 Feb 06
The Death Penalty
Reading an article in Investors Business Daily ("Well Executed") caused me to write this blog. One sentence in particular didn't make much sense: "Death penalty opponents still cannot point to the actual execution of an innocent person."
It’s odd that the author chose to ignore more than one-hundred death-row inmates who have been exonerated by DNA evidence. To me, the issue of whether the death penalty is appropriate for certain criminals is irrelevant. The real issue is whether the death penalty can be maintained in an era when the careers of prosecutors and detectives hinge on securing convictions regardless of innocence or guilt.
An example of what is becoming more prevalent is the case of Ray Krone, the wrongfully convicted "snaggle-toothed killer" whose life was saved with the assistance of my attorney, Alan Simpson. In this case the State of Arizona paid an expert witness tens of thousands of dollars to state that Ray’s teeth matched a bite mark found on the body of the victim. Exonerating evidence was concealed, and even after the expert witness confessed to his peers that he felt committed to lie because he had taken the money, the prosecutor in Ray Krone’s case pushed for and almost had him executed.
Ray was saved from execution when his legal team linked DNA evidence to the real killer who was confronted and confessed to the crime. The people who hid evidence and tried to murder
Ray suffered no repercussions. They did not even apologise.
Advances in the use of DNA have exposed multiple cases of such corruption. Prosecutors and detectives, and expert witnesses rarely suffer consequences for fabricating cases. A legal system that offers $50,000 to a person to utter a few words at a trial, which may lead to wrongful imprisonment, or even execution, without a penalty for telling lies, invites people to play dirty. It is obscene that a State can fork out such amounts, yet keep death-row inmates waiting years for inexpensive DNA tests.
Perhaps the author of the Investors Business Daily article would like to consider how many wrongfully convicted people were executed before DNA evidence could help them.
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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood