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  1. Subscriber Sleepyguy
    Reepy Rastardly Guy
    25 Mar '15 14:38
    A prosecutor has written a letter apologizing for his role in bringing about 30 years of imprisonment of an innocent man. In the letter he admits to missing exculpatory evidence by being incurious, that defense counsel was inexperienced and underfunded, that he himself was too young to be making such decisions, that expert testimony for the prosecution was based on junk science etc... all very damning. And then he says this:

    "No one should be given the ability to impose a sentence of death in any criminal proceeding. We are simply incapable of devising a system that can fairly and impartially impose a sentence of death because we are all fallible human beings."

    http://www.shreveporttimes.com/longform/opinion/readers/2015/03/20/lead-prosecutor-offers-apology-in-the-case-of-exonerated-death-row-inmate-glenn-ford/25049063/

    I've never been one to oppose the death penalty from the "two wrongs don't make a right" moral stance, but I'm finding the notion that a bureaucracy just can't be trusted with such things resonates. Any pro-death penalty types out there care to dissuade me?
  2. 25 Mar '15 15:18
    Originally posted by Sleepyguy
    A prosecutor has written a letter apologizing for his role in bringing about 30 years of imprisonment of an innocent man. In the letter he admits to missing exculpatory evidence by being incurious, that defense counsel was inexperienced and underfunded, that he himself was too young to be making such decisions, that expert testimony for the prosecution was ...[text shortened]... trusted with such things resonates. Any pro-death penalty types out there care to dissuade me?
    Rigging a trial so an innocent man is convicted and spends 30 years in jail simply isn't fixable. Besides being subjected to all the abuses in jail and the public shame of being convicted, he lost thirty years of income, all relationships have moved on, and his skills, if any, are likely obsolete.
    To me the idea that "at least he isn't dead" when he's already lost 99+% of what life could offer is just silly. Even if he truly is innocent (and I'm sure many doors are still closed for someone who has a thirty year gap in employment due to incarceration), society basically killed him anyway.
  3. 25 Mar '15 15:38
    Originally posted by quackquack
    Rigging a trial so an innocent man is convicted and spends 30 years in jail simply isn't fixable. Besides being subjected to all the abuses in jail and the public shame of being convicted, he lost thirty years of income, all relationships have moved on, and his skills, if any, are likely obsolete.
    To me the idea that "at least he isn't dead" when he' ...[text shortened]... has a thirty year gap in employment due to incarceration), society basically killed him anyway.
    Yeah, that's why the wrongly convicted immediately kill themselves upon release.
  4. 25 Mar '15 16:41
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Yeah, that's why the wrongly convicted immediately kill themselves upon release.
    After spend thirty years behind bars your life is essentially completely ruined. Feeling that we should eliminate the death penalty because an incompetent or evil prosecutor can tell a wrongfully convicted guy that he's sorry is just silly.
  5. 25 Mar '15 17:27
    Originally posted by quackquack
    After spend thirty years behind bars your life is essentially completely ruined. Feeling that we should eliminate the death penalty because an incompetent or evil prosecutor can tell a wrongfully convicted guy that he's sorry is just silly.
    Almost as silly as saying the death penalty should not be abolished because doing so would be "just silly."
  6. 25 Mar '15 18:28 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by quackquack to SleepyGuy
    Rigging a trial so an innocent man is convicted and spends 30 years in jail simply isn't fixable. Besides being subjected to all the abuses in jail and the public shame of being convicted, he lost thirty years of income, all relationships have moved on, and his skills, if any, are likely obsolete.
    To me the idea that "at least he isn't d ...[text shortened]... has a thirty year gap in employment due to incarceration), society basically killed him anyway.
    If I recall correctly, there was a case in the USA where an innocent man was
    convicted of murder and originally sentenced to death. His sentence was
    commuted to imprisonment for life. After spending about 50 years in prison,
    his innocence was proven and the man (about age 70) was released.
    He had no relatives or friends 'on the outside'. The USA had greatly changed;
    almost everything was new and strange to him. The man was offered about
    500,000 USD (10,000 USD per year) in compensation, which he accepted
    because it would have taken several years of litigation for him to get more.
    As I recall, he died not long after he received his 'compensation'.

    How did he feel about it? I don't know. Assuming he had lived several years
    longer in decent health and had found trustworthy help in managing his money,
    he could have lived comfortably, perhaps even a bit luxuriously. Nothing
    could ever replace what he may have experienced and enjoyed in the missing
    fifty years or so of freedom. But was his fate better than suicide?
  7. 25 Mar '15 18:34
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Almost as silly as saying the death penalty should not be abolished because doing so would be "just silly."
    I never commented on whether the death penalty should or should not be abolished. I simply stated that when we undo a wrongful conviction thirty years later we are preserving very little in terms of quality of life.
  8. 25 Mar '15 18:38
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    If I recall correctly, there was a case in the USA where an innocent man was
    convicted of murder and originally sentenced to death. His sentence was
    commuted to imprisonment for life. After spending about 50 years in prison,
    his innocence was proven and the man (about age 70) was released.
    He had no relatives or friends 'on the outside'. The USA ...[text shortened]... joyed in the missing
    fifty years or so of freedom. But would it have been better than suicide?
    I believe only a deluded person would feel that society somehow fixed their erroneous decision. To me once you convict a person they are publicly shamed. They likely end up divorced. Their friends move on. There family functions without them. They lose all meaningful connections. It is really superficial to think that a few luxury items have any meaning. Thus, I'd argue there is little difference between what we did to that person and someone we wrongfully execute.
  9. 25 Mar '15 18:54
    Originally posted by Sleepyguy
    A prosecutor has written a letter apologizing for his role in bringing about 30 years of imprisonment of an innocent man. In the letter he admits to missing exculpatory evidence by being incurious, that defense counsel was inexperienced and underfunded, that he himself was too young to be making such decisions, that expert testimony for the prosecution was ...[text shortened]... trusted with such things resonates. Any pro-death penalty types out there care to dissuade me?
    Of course prosecutors are influenced by the will of the general public. If the public wants a conviction, it's important to the prosecutor give it to them even if he's not sure the person is guilty.

    Heck, there were millions of Americans insisting that Darren Wilson be prosecuted. Puts a prosecutor in a tough spot.
  10. 25 Mar '15 18:55
    Originally posted by quackquack
    I believe only a deluded person would feel that society somehow fixed their erroneous decision. To me once you convict a person they are publicly shamed. They likely end up divorced. Their friends move on. There family functions without them. They lose all meaningful connections. It is really superficial to think that a few luxury items have any m ...[text shortened]... there is little difference between what we did to that person and someone we wrongfully execute.
    "To me once you convict a person they are publicly shamed."
    --Quackquack

    As an 'ex-con', Nelson Mandela did rather well with the public.

    "I'd argue there is little difference between what we did to that person
    and someone we wrongfully execute."
    --Quackquack

    What if it had been his choice? Would an innocent man have stopped
    appealing against his death sentence because he thought it would be
    hardly any worse than a long sentence and eventual release?
  11. 25 Mar '15 19:19
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    "To me once you convict a person they are publicly shamed."
    --Quackquack

    As an 'ex-con', Nelson Mandela did rather well with the public.

    "I'd argue there is little difference between what we did to that person
    and someone we wrongfully execute."
    --Quackquack

    What if it had been his choice? Would an innocent man have stopped
    appealing again ...[text shortened]... ence because he thought it would be
    hardly any worse than a long sentence and eventual release?
    When people have absolutely nothing and have lost 99+% of the value of their life, they may fight for the little bit they have left. But when they get the little sliver back we can say we gave them something or we can be realistically and say we basically killed them anyway.
    Let's not overestimate the amount gained by overturning a wrongful conviction in a capital case.
  12. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    25 Mar '15 22:43 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by quackquack
    When people have absolutely nothing and have lost 99+% of the value of their life, they may fight for the little bit they have left. But when they get the little sliver back we can say we gave them something or we can be realistically and say we basically killed them anyway.
    Let's not overestimate the amount gained by overturning a wrongful conviction in a capital case.
    You are right that overturning a wrongful conviction after such an enormous term of imprisonment is not sufficient to restore anyone to the situation they might have been in had they never been convicted.

    Clearly, at the age of seventy, after five decades in prison, I would prefer to be cleared than to continue being held in prison. At that point in time, one looks for the best outcome available.

    However, the problem is not only the appalling standards of justice to which Americans are subject, leading to so many wrongful convictions, but also the appalling American obsession with the use of prison and the conditions prevailing inside the American prison system, which are barbaric and unacceptable. According to a US Department of Justice report published in 2006, over 7.2 million people were at that time in prison, on probation, or on parole (released from prison with restrictions). That means roughly 1 in every 32 Americans are held by the justice system.
    The United States has the largest prison population in the world,[3][4] and the second-highest per-capita incarceration rate, behind Seychelles (which has a total prison population of 786 out of a population of 90,024)


    Even if someone is indeed guilty of murder, in most countries of the world, only the most aggravated crimes would lead to the prisoner spending fifty years inside prison. That period in prison is in itself inhumane treatment, regardless of the fact that the poor guy was in any case totally innocent of the crime.
  13. 25 Mar '15 23:30
    Originally posted by finnegan
    You are right that overturning a wrongful conviction after such an enormous term of imprisonment is not sufficient to restore anyone to the situation they might have been in had they never been convicted.

    Clearly, at the age of seventy, after five decades in prison, I would prefer to be cleared than to continue being held in prison. At that point in t ...[text shortened]... eatment, regardless of the fact that the poor guy was in any case totally innocent of the crime.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_and_Loeb

    In this infamous case, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were sentenced to
    life imprisonment plus 99 years. (Clarence Darrow's eloquence probably
    saved them from being executed.) Nathan Leopold was released on parole
    after serving 33 years. The remaining 13 years of his life were quiet and
    productive. Evidently, Nathan Leopold had been rehabilitated.

    I can recall watching something on Chinese television about a young man
    who, at age 16 or 17, had stabbed another youth to death in a fight (perhaps
    over a girl). He was not executed for murder chiefly on account of his age.
    He was sentenced to life imprisonment with no provision made for parole.
    Even though he knows there's no guarantee that he ever will have a chance
    for parole, he's become a 'model prisoner' (that's why his story was featured),
    working hard and conforming ideologically. In this case, his parents have
    continued to encourage him rather than disowning him (like some parents
    would) out of shame. His family hopes that someday, even decades later,
    he will be released. On the other hand, his victim's parents believe that
    justice was not done because they had demanded the killer's execution.
    The prisoner has said that he understands why his victim's parents feel
    that way and will never forgive him. (The killing of their son, probably
    their only child, may have destroyed that family's dreams for the future.)
  14. 25 Mar '15 23:40
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Yeah, that's why the wrongly convicted immediately kill themselves upon release.
    Ok, given the rational question, and the rational reply is the solution to stop executions, or devise a system where the defendant or suspect is better represented, so that injustice is not done by either incarceration or execution?

    I've heard of systems in which the defense is provided by government, not just the prosecution. It seems on the surface that this would be rife with conspiracy and abuses, but it would eliminate the poorly trained defense lawyer, or the inability of the accused to afford proper representation.
  15. 25 Mar '15 23:41
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Almost as silly as saying the death penalty should not be abolished because doing so would be "just silly."
    Maybe the only "not silly" thing would be to just let criminals go?