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The Shame of the Death Penalty

I just read an amazing editorial by Bob Herbert in the New York Times about Justice Steven’s criticism of the death penalty in this country.  Herbert’s summary was fascinating, and now I have to read the retired justice’s full analysis.

Though I stopped practicing law many years ago I still have an interest in my former profession.  The death penalty is one place where my position has changed.  I used to be in favor of the ultimate “punishment”, but as I got deeper into my career, read more, thought more I realized it was fundamentally unjust as applied, and the risk of executing an innocent person was simply too great.  Better life in prison without possibility of parole.  That way if a mistake has been made, an injustice committed, it can be fixed.  Death is generally considered to be permanent. 

And if that seems to soft then consider this — it is far cheaper to incarcerate a prisoner then incur the costs triggered by the automatic death penalty appeals.  Think of it as a cost saving effort with the added benefit that we, as citizens, will not have been party to the execution of an innocent person.

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