Since I wrote this in 2013, it has been printed in at least 20 papers nationwide, and now we have also seen the barbaric torture of death row inmates with “lethal injection” executions! People are calling for the death sentence in mass shooting cases, if the cops have not already killed the perpetrator. We also hear more calls for it when cops are killed. This Letter reminds us why that is a dumb idea!
Letter to the Editor, or Op Ed Submission 3/12/13 – Join Civilized, Sage States
The Delaware legislature is set to revisit the issue of capital punishment – to keep it or not to keep it. Let us join the 16 states which have the wisdom to see that the death penalty is not a desirable part of the criminal justice system. The U.S. is the only Western democracy which fails to admit that these executions are a fundamental violation of human rights.
The New York Times ran an excellent investigation/report about 18 to 24 months ago detailing the inordinate costs of capital cases. As I recall, the average death penalty case cost about $1.4 MILLION more than non death sentence cases; the effort goes to fight the penalty, not the conviction. It costs taxpayers far more than a life sentence without release.
Even as a prosecutor, I never believed in the death penalty. ( I asked juries to do what they thought was “right, fair, and just”). . . The Bible does not say “Thou shalt not kill except in the name of the State”!
Study after study shows that, much like the so-called “war on drugs”, it accomplishes nothing, except satisfying the craving for revenge. It does nothing to protect society. These studies show too that capital punishment indisputably is discriminatory, specifically as to race and socioeconomic status.
In addition, The Innocence Project (God Bless Barry Scheck, its founder) has freed at least 138 ….and counting…. prisoners from death row.
When I recently asked Brendan O’Neill, Delaware’s Public Defender, “What would you say is the biggest problem facing your office?” he said: The death sentences cases” ……because of the resources necessarily diverted to those cases. I will add that those are probably the only cases where a defendant who has the P D does get good representation. No offense to the PDs, but they are swamped…even the best lawyers must have the TIME to be PREPARED….and they do not.
Our criminal justice system is in shambles: the disparity in sentencing is nearly crazy, too many innocents are convicted or forced (if facing multiple false charges, one dare not go to trial without a GOOD, prepared lawyer, for the law requires consecutive sentences) to plead guilty, the dockets are severely overloaded, leading to all manner of mistakes, and the prisons are out of control (authority run amok). One significant improvement would be doing away with the death penalty
Ken Abraham, Deputy Attorney General 1974-1979, Dover, DE, 302 423 4067.
Now President of Citizens for Criminal Justice.