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Death Penalty is Outdated

Eliminate the Death Penalty, Let Them Rot

The Death Penalty is outdated and useless

I used to be a fervent death penalty supporter. An “Eye for an Eye” kind of person. I firmly believed the death penalty was just punishment and a deterrent to other criminals. Now, however, after years of reading and observing crime, criminals and the justice system, I’ve come to understand the only group the death penalty benefits is lawyers.

The death penalty doesn’t deter crime because most criminals are too stupid to “connect the dots.” Besides, how many criminals read news or watch TV about other criminals being sentenced to death and change their ways? Not many, I bet. As for family and friends of victims, I feel for them but revenge doesn’t always equate to justice. Killing someone in the name of justice is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. In any event, I’m not particularly concerned about social mores. If jury verdicts were perfect with no chance of convicting an innocent person and sentences were carried out promptly, I wouldn’t care. Unfortunately, juries make mistakes regularly enough that I’d be hesitant to trust the jury system. Cops and prosecutors also lie with regularity, hiding evidence, exculpatory evidence that can mean the difference between an acquittal and a lifetime in prison waiting for the unjust death penalty to be carried out. Indigent defendants are unable to pay for good lawyers who are experienced in death penalty cases. The result is an inordinate number of poor prisoners on death row.

A poster child for death penalty reform, David L. Murtishaw, who was convicted in 1979 of murdering 3 USC film students, died of natural causes in 2011. In the interim 32 years he cost the state three trials, three appeals and three state habeas corpus petitions. The original convictions were always upheld but the death penalty was overturned twice due to state errors. That begs the question, how do state prosecutors and judges screw up a death penalty case where a person’s life hangs in the balance.

Make no mistake, David Murtishaw was a useless dreck of a human being but the millions of dollars spent trying to murder him was totally obscene. Throwing him in prison for LWOP (life without parole) would have resulted in the exact same end without families and friends of the victims feeling cheated. Since 1978, 13 CA death row inmates have been executed while 80 died of natural causes, suicide or  “other” causes. Bottom line, 86% of CA death penalty cases where the prisoner eventually expired would have resulted in the same outcome without the expense of appeals, retrials, and other endless legal filings and maneuvers.

This whole death penalty system is totally and irreparably broken. In 2022, 35% of all attempted executions were botched due to incompetence on the part of executioners (they didn’t know what they were doing,) failures to follow protocols (they didn’t know what they were doing,) or defective written protocols (developed by people who didn’t know what they were doing.) In 2022, Ohio Attorney General David Yost, a Republican issued a Capital Crimes Report that called the state death penalty a ​”broken system.” If even Republican, who are among the most blood-thirsty (good christians who believe in an-eye-for-an eye,) can’t abide Ohio’s death penalty system, it must truly be a disaster.

Then there are the reported cases of inmates being exonerated after years on death row. Again, many of these prisoners weren’t exactly model citizens who merited much sympathy but what about the ones who were wrongly executed and did merit society’s sympathy and consideration. An execution is irreversible. LWOP is reversible even if damaging to a prisoner’s welfare and mental state.

Bottom line, my position is that a death penalty is a waste of time, money and resources. Apply all that effort toward programs that help stop future crime. In 2011, it was estimated California spent $184 million to maintain, manage and perpetuate a broken system and that’s just one state. All data to this date proves the death penalty doesn’t deter future capital crimes and costs. New programs should be funded to prevent crimes or, at the very least, more quickly identify and capture criminals. Stop wasting precious resources to satisfy the blood lust of fundie-vangie christo-fascist Republicans who are willing to spend millions, if not billions, of taxpayer dollars to kill criminals but not a penny to fund abortions that can actually save lives.

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