Monday, September 26, 2011

Capital punishment for dummies. Okay, not for dummies. But how about for lying cops and prosecutors who get innocent people put to death?

In case you just returned from a long trip to the trans-Neptunian dwarf planet Eris and haven’t been checking the news from outer space, I wish to inform you that the state of Georgia executed a man last week who in all probability was innocent.

His name was Troy Davis. According to recent sworn statements, seven of the nine witnesses against him recanted. One of the nine who didn’t recount was accused by some of the witnesses of being the actual killer. There was no DNA evidence and some pretty shaky ballistic evidence.

Nevermind all that. Judicial review panels, including that deep spring of wisdom on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, reviewed the case and said, in effect, that they preferred to go with the recanted testimony. The judicial arguments declared, in effect, that the trial was fair even if most of the evidence was tainted.

See? The system works! It works unfairly, counter-productively, and to adverse affect. But let nobody say they don’t hear those wheels of justice grinding exceedingly small. Especially when they grind innocent people to death.

I’ve been generally against capital punishment, but I’m starting to rethink my position. Perhaps we ought to have capital punishment for any prosecutor or police officer who causes the death of an innocent person, or even a likely-innocent person, by tampering, coercing or unfairly presenting evidence – leading to conviction and execution of the accused when there is a reasonable doubt.

What if the accused only spends time in prison and is later discovered to be innocent? Imprison the S.O.B.s who railroaded the innocent until S.O.B.s have served as much time as the innocent man has.

Why do I think the number of trumped-up prosecutions and executions of innocent people would drop nearly to zero?

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