Our Criminal Justice System Makes Mistakes (Too Often)

certain-some-were-executedI no longer can support the State with the power of life and death when wrongful conviction case after wrongful conviction case have shown just how often the justice system gets it wrong.

I’m voting to end the Death Penalty in my state.  Here’s more explanation.

Personally, I’m not opposed to the death penalty per se, philosophically or religiously.  I’m opposed to the death penalty here and now as a penal option of the too often less-than-accurate State.  I’m opposed to the death penalty in the current criminal justice system, because the facts that have born out in the last decades have made it quite clear, again and again, that our criminal justice system is too often wrong, too often mistaken, and too unequipped (at present) to redress/rectify these errors when they occur.  

To put it another way, the fact that our criminal justice system is made up of people just like you and me means that it has in the past, does currently, and will continue to make mistakes, sometimes grave mistakes… and sometimes, sadly, yes, there is even corruption involved.  But leaving corruption aside (which I do believe to be a minority of cases), simple human error is more than enough to inject tremendous flaws into the justice system.

The following are flaws that lead to most wrongful conviction cases: sometimes only one is involved, sometimes and usually there’s a combination of these that lead to someone being falsely imprisoned.

* False eyewitness testimony

* False confessions

* Convictions based (almost solely) on jail-house informants

* Tunnel vision by detectives, and/or Prosecutors

* Bad/junk science (e.g., shaken baby syndrome, some arson cases, et cetera)

* Bad lawyering/inadequate defense council, and so forth

no-on-66-1Because these flaws continue to occur, and because the system has still only slowly been open to reform, I’m not comfortable supporting the State to wield the sword of Capital Punishment.  I won’t be comfortable granting this power of life and death to the State until there has been substantial and significant reform and improvement within our system such that we can again as citizens believe with confidence, and clear consciences before God, that Justice is being done.

Until that time, it seems to me that a life-sentence behind bars is a devastating punishment that will have to suffice for now (for some of these mass-murderers and so forth, the likes of Timothy McVeigh, and Charles Manson that we know to be guilty).

Ultimately, these people might deserve death, and perhaps the State didn’t deliver “justice” by not executing them, but the State isn’t the end.  These people will one day have to answer for all they’ve done – we all will.  And that’s why I am voting to end the death penalty in California; I’m voting to protect those persons – however many hundreds or thousands there are – that have fallen prey to the System, and who still await their exonerations behind bars.

 

Follow this link for more information about Wrongful Convictions.

Vote NO on CA Prop 66.  Vote YES on CA Prop 62.

[This post is a modified version of a response I wrote to a friend on facebook.]

radical-changes-must-occur

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