How Do We Avoid Executing the Innocent?
Joseph Tydings is a former U.S. senator from Maryland. As a former U.S. attorney and as a private lawyer, he has prosecuted and defended death penalty cases. Tydings therefore has credibility when he argues that the risk of executing the innocent is simply too great.
As pro bono counsel, I unsuccessfully litigated a Virginia appeal of a mentally retarded minor who had been convicted and sentenced to death for a crime that I firmly believe he didn't commit, because his court-appointed attorney didn't want to represent him and was basically worthless as his lawyer. After seven years, the Virginia governor ultimately lacked the courage to stay the sentence, and my client was executed.
Given the 129 people who were sentenced to death and who managed to establish their innocence before being executed, death penalty supporters are fooling themselves if they believe the criminal justice system is so flawless that the innocent will never be executed. [more ...]
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