The Jaker

Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.

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Monday, December 05, 2005
Support Dropping for Death Penalty in U.S.
Is it possible that Americans are finally waking up to what most of the rest of the developed world has realized? That state-sponsored revenge killing is a relic of the Wild West.

The Washington Post reports that support for the death penalty is slowly coming down in America
Public opinion polls show that nearly two-thirds of Americans support the death penalty, but that is a significant drop from the peak, in 1994, when 80 percent of respondents told Gallup pollsters they were in favor of capital punishment. When asked if they would endorse executions if the alternative sentence of life without parole were available, support fell to 50 percent. [Emphasis mine].

Forgetting about the philosophical argument of right or wrong in theory, the practical matter is that our system is not capable of providing 100% certainty that its outcomes are correct. And because death is different from other forms of punishment, we cannot continue to practice the death penalty and risk the execution of innocent people. Of the 1000 people executed since 1976, how many have been innocent? I'd guess at least 1% - 10 people. And perhaps as much as 5% - 50 people. Is the killing of the other 900+, as opposed to keeping them locked away for life without parole, really worth the stain on our conscience that killing innocent people brings?
posted by CB @ 9:29 AM  
  • At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Jared said…

    state sponsered killing is much older than the wild west. Also, that wasn't really the state - it was more local bosses and mobs...

  • At 3:28 PM, Blogger CB said…

    yea you're right. what is it a relic of... the age of cavemen?

  • At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Jesse said…

    Right on Colin. I don't know if you are familiar with Tookie Williams (, who helped found the Crips in the early 1970's, but he is set to be executed 1 week from today. William has maintained his innocence in all four murders he is to die for. Additionally, the trial in which he was convicted was based on plenty of suspect evidence. In his time on death row, Tookie has done lots of amazing things to fight gang violence, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. His life, however, is now in the hands of Gov. Schwarzenegger. His case highlights a lot of the problems with the death penalty and is worth checking out.

  • At 2:43 PM, Blogger CB said…

    yea, i'm following the Tookie story. i think there's a 30-50% chance Arnold comes through on this one.

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