Michigan Considers Death Penalty

by TChris

Support for the death penalty has eroded as voters have grown increasingly concerned about the execution of the innocent. Legislators in Michigan, however, are moving toward ending a 158 year old ban on the death penalty in that state.

The House Regulatory Reform Committee voted 6-4 Tuesday to send the House a resolution that would ask voters this fall whether they want to change the state constitution to allow the death penalty to be considered for first-degree murder cases where there is no doubt about a defendant's guilt.

Imposing death when there is "no doubt" about guilt is an interesting standard. If proof beyond a reasonable doubt doesn't prevent the conviction of the innocent, there is little reason to think that requiring proof "beyond any doubt" will assure that the innocent are never put to death. Conversely, if proof beyond a reasonable doubt isn't good enough to justify a death sentence, should it be good enough to justify a lifetime of imprisonment?

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