Monday, December 10, 2007

Sometimes I feel like I'm dyin'

In the U.S., 37 states plus the military and the Federal government retain the death penalty. Thankfully, today we're one step closer to making that number smaller:
New Jersey moved closer to eliminating the death penalty on Monday when its Senate and an Assembly committee voted in favor of making life in prison without parole the state's top criminal penalty.

The Democrat-controlled upper house Senate voted by 21 to 16 to scrap the death penalty after the lower house Assembly's law and public safety committee approved the same measure by a vote of 5-1.

The move now needs to be voted on by the full Assembly on Thursday. If approved New Jersey will become the first state to legislatively abolish its death penalty since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

Certain things in life are black & white to me; this is one of them. This from Wikipedia sums it up well for me:
Opponents of capital punishment argue that it does not deter criminals more than life imprisonment, violates human rights, leads to executions of some who are wrongfully convicted, and discriminates against minorities and the poor.

This isn't the only good news this month. From The Innocence Project:
On the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court order stopping the execution of Thomas Arthur based on a challenge to the constitutionality of lethal injections procedures, the Innocence Project today renewed and broadened its calls for Alabama Governor Bob Riley to order DNA testing that could prove Arthur’s guilt or innocence.

The Innocence Project, which has pressed the case with Riley’s senior staff for months, wrote to Riley today asking for DNA testing. The Innocence Project also launched a web-based campaign today, mobilizing thousands of people in Alabama and nationwide to write to Riley and urge him to order DNA testing in the case. To see the online campaign, go to

Since August, the Innocence Project has been requesting DNA testing in the case but Riley has refused. In today’s letter, Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld urged Riley to immediately order testing in the case, while the execution is stayed.

I have no hope that Riley (R-Execution) will act to stop the death penalty in Alabama, but we take our victories where we can get them. If DNA testing does prove Arthur innocent, that will be in addition to the over 200 people the Innocence Project has exonerated, including several actually sentenced to death. This page from their site details the many ways in which people can be wrongly accused and convicted:
Eyewitness Misidentification
Unreliable or Limited Science
False Confessions
Forensic Science Fraud or Misconduct
Government Misconduct
Informants or Snitches
Bad Lawyering

If you're someone who leans toward supporting the death penalty, just think how easy it would be for you to become one of those wrongfully convicted.

Yeah, that's what I thought.