I just found this post on the Death Penalty and innocence. It's a few days old. I find this one of those nuanced positions that is difficult to frame without morality and/or faith as part of the equation, but I agree innocence is a distraction.
Innocence has been used by the anti-Death Penalty movement as a framework to move public opinion on the death penalty towards the opposition's point of view. It's been very effective. Moratoriums are happening all over the country, people are getting a distaste for it generally for many reasons, but in particular the killing of innocents has moved people away from state sponsored killing. Two states are attempting to repeal it all together as WI did 153 years ago in their next state legislative sessions.
The killing of innocent people is flat out something that the supporters of the death penalty have to come to terms with on their own.
All death penalty supporters MUST supress that technicality as a necessary evil to achieve their vengent lust.
Scalia is right. As long as fallible humans take it upon themselves to kill people in the name of justice, the process will kill innocent people. No DNA testing, no video evidence, no court system can expect to bring back perfect results. The oddities of humanity (or lack of it) will always seep in as they did in the Yeats trial and add that gray to the picture that muddles it all up.
It will NEVER be perfect.
For those who can rationalize themselves into believing that it's Hezbollah's fault that Israel missed their target by 50 yards and killed 60 women and children yesterday (this is directly based on comments yesterday from the Israeli Ambassador to the UN on CNN), the death penalty makes sense. It's the same logic. Kill to stop the killing. Innocents are collateral damage. It's the logic of vengence. (Now, I am not taking sides in that mess in the Middle East right now. They all seem nuts to me. I think I haven't blogged on it yet because I'm so dumbfounded as to what's actually happening over there, and why they all think indiscriminate bombing is the solution, so I've decided to stay out of it.)
It's the logic that our Government uses to torture prisoners and hold potentially innocent people in Gitmo. If we try them and find them innocent, we've made them so mad that they may come after us when they are freed, so let's hold them all, including the innocents, indefinitely.
So why is innocence a distration on the real problem with the death penalty? Because unless you are a person of faith (of almost any faith), innocence is the easiest straw to grasp. No one likes the killing of innocents, so it's a quick easy arguement to make, but the problems with the death penalty go way beyond faith and innocence.
The death penalty is legalized lynching plain and simple. People of color and the economically disadvantaged are systematically killed in our society. Some are guilty and some are innocent. The system doesn't really care because ultimately, they are poor whites and poor people of color and so they don't matter to our society. They are a burden of second class-ness that makes the rest of society feel uncomfortable in their comfort and so removing them from society is not enough. They must be killed to remove them from memory. No one really wants to hear the stories of the poor. No one liked the aftermath of Katrina and they removed it from the media as soon as possible to make us feel like the nightmare was over.
The real problem with the death penalty is the cold hard fact that it makes some humans feel good to kill. No one really wants to face that issue and no one wants to say that out loud, but it is a fact that some humans believe that killing helps society. The real data says just the opposite. States with the death penalty have up to 6 more killings per capita than non-death penalty states.
I don't believe this. I believe that "do unto others..." actually means that to be a better society, we must treat even the lowest of humans, those who have truly lost their humanity, with a level of humanity, or we lose our own. We become the monsters we kill.
We can try to make it feel better with DNA testing or lethal injection, but the bottom line is when a society kills, it is a killing society; and call me a "radical, peace loving, idealistic, hippie liberal", I'll take that over a "killer".
Vote No on the Death Penalty referendum in November, so that we can keep our humanity as Wisconsinites born and raised.