Jennifer Thompson writes about a bill to speed up appeals. The original version of the bill, it appears, would have meant speedy executions, with fewer exonerations.

Jennifer points out that this is a problem. 

As Anthony Ray Hinton wrote on [AL.com] last week, he spent 30 years on Alabama’s death row for a crime that he did not commit. Had SB 187 been the law at the time, he would likely have been executed instead of freed. Mr. Hinton’s life would be over and the survivors of the crime for which he was falsely convicted would have no justice.

You really should read her article. Then sit for a few minutes, think about it, and ponder why we continue to think that the death penalty—whether in Alabama, or California, or anywhere else—is something civilized people should support.

What we really need are not speedy executions ensuring fewer exonerations. We need a dedication to justice. We need cops who will seriously investigate a crime; not just latch on to the first person who pops into their field of vision as a “viable suspect.” The way our investigations work these days, “viable suspect” just means “someone we can probably convict.” Evidence be damned: it’s just “someone we can probably convict.”

In some regions, depending on the crime, the race of the victim, and the race of the ham sandwich, one could easily convict a ham sandwich for murder.

But justice demands more. And not just for the ham sandwich.

Every day an innocent person sits in prison, the guilty person is free to commit additional crimes. Of the nation’s 349 wrongful convictions proven by DNA evidence, the actual perpetrators went on to be convicted of 147 additional violent crimes, including 77 sexual assaults, 35 murders, and 35 other violent offenses – all while an innocent person remained incarcerated.

Jennifer knows of what she speaks. While Ronald Cotton sat in prison, convicted of raping her, the real rapist continued to commit crimes.

California voters recently passed a proposition that will, if allowed to become law, [1]It’s currently on hold pending legal challenges. mean that California may rejoin the other bloodthirsty states in a race to kill citizens who have been convicted of capital crimes. Some of them may have actually committed those crimes. Some of them, no doubt, did not.

To anyone who thinks that we’ve never executed an innocent person, I really don’t know what to say to you. Jennifer already said it, and I already quoted it above:

As Anthony Ray Hinton wrote on [AL.com] last week, he spent 30 years on Alabama’s death row for a crime that he did not commit. Had SB 187 been the law at the time, he would likely have been executed instead of freed. Mr. Hinton’s life would be over and the survivors of the crime for which he was falsely convicted would have no justice.

Let there be no doubt: speedy executions do nothing to ensure justice. They are excellent for ensuring fewer exonerations.

Maybe that’s the real goal, eh? Don’t let us see just how wrong we are to endorse the death penalty, by making sure that we don’t see just how many innocent people we almost send to their deaths. But as Ronald Cotton said:

Executions are carried out in the name of the people…and we should all be concerned if we make our system less reliable and the execution of innocent people more likely.

Make your voice heard on this: write your representatives about it. Do it today. Do it so that innocent people are not killed in your name, by your authority, with your blessing.

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References   [ + ]

1. It’s currently on hold pending legal challenges.

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