IS IT BETTER TO EXECUTE ONE INNOCENT MAN THAN TO LET 10 GUILTY MEN GO FREE? 7 DEATH ROW MEN EXONERATED LAST YEAR
Three states, Missouri, Florida, and Texas, account for approximately 80% of the executions in the U.S this year. Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, and Oklahoma have also carried out death penalty sentences this year; 35 people were executed, and 71 were sentenced to death so far in 2014. There were seven death penalty exonerations this year. Florida executed 11 people and Texas 10 in 2014. Executions are on the down-slide, but many opponents are concerned about the morality of sentencing someone to die in the first instance. Some find solace in the teachings of the bible where death sentences were approvingly meted out for petty indiscretions. Others have just given up on the notion of rehabilitation- “they can’t be cured, why pay good money to house them.” Still, others cling to the premise that statistically, the justice system is fair, when it comes to the imposition of the ultimate penalty- as high as 99.7 % of the time, according to one member of the high court. But the plain truth is, we impose the death penalty unfairly in this country, based upon race, age, gender, and economics; moreover, some studies have concluded that 1 in 25 of those sentenced to death was probably not guilty as charged. On top of this, the death penalty does not deter crime (see, “The Death Penalty Does Not Slow Down Murderers,” and “The Death Penalty Costs Way Too Much and Doesn’t Deter Crime”). Most of the states that impose the death penalty have come under attack for a variety of reasons, including the methodology used to facilitate the death including the questionable, if not outright brutal, specific means of causing death. It is difficult to feel any sense of shame or remorse about the execution of someone who buries a woman alive, or rapes, kills and mutilates a child, but such rightful emotions do not morally justify the imposition of the death penalty in general. As alleged believers in God’s messages of forgiveness, the constant scientific proof of innocence, and the known inequalities of the administration of the death penalty, we should end it. Life in prison satisfies the public’s concern for safety and adequately punishes any offender. We are better than the Russian Proverb that it is better to send one innocent man to the death gallows rather than let ten guilty men go free. Or as one judge said about a death penalty case, “Sometimes, you just have to put them down.” Really, what about the seven men who were determined to be wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in the past year? Should we have “put them down”?