The Death Penalty (2 cents)

I maintain that you cannot be pro-life, and support the death penalty.  So, for me, those who call themselves pro-life because they oppose abortion, but who support the death penalty, are hypocritical when they use that term to describe themselves.

This is important because, if pro-choice forces would make such a position public, it would bring to the fore the topic of the death penalty, which is too often ignored.

In the United States, only about 1/4 of the states have abolished capital punishment.  On the other hand, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and all of Europe (with, as I understand it, the exception of Belarus) have no death penalty.  Nor do many other countries.

Some Latin American countries still provide for capital punishment, as do some African countries, and all Islamic countries, I believe, with the exception of Turkey.

There are many reasons to oppose the death penalty, including moral, ethical, religious and philosophical reasons.  But there are two reasons to oppose the death penalty (at least in the United States) that should trump all of the others.  First, its implementation is discriminatory, with minorities and socially deprived persons more likely to be killed by the state.  Second, there are many cases, as we are seeing more and more, where the guilty verdict is simply wrong.

One of those cases is that of Kirk Bloodsworth, convicted of killing a young girl in a forest in Baltimore County in the 1980s.  In fact, Bloodsworth was convicted twice (although in his second conviction, his death sentence was changed to life imprisonment).  He was eventually exonorated, however, by his own research, and the hard work of some Baltimore lawyers, by dint of DNA evidence found on the body (ten years after the murder, because evidence had been preserved, and technology vastly improved).  Bloodsworth, no angel before his convictions, is apparently now a spokesperson for various criminal reform matters.

Bloodsworth is the name of a book written by lawyer/journalist Tim Junkin that tells his story.  I read it yesterday in one sitting.  It is that kind of a book, and the lesson that it has to tell should be learned by all of us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s