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The Holy Grail of Anti-Death Penalty Efforts

August 27, 2001

The press has just reported yet another condemned inmate being cleared by DNA evidence.  Charles Fain spent nearly 18 years on death row for the rape and murder of a 9 year old girl.  DNA tests now show that hairs found on the girl's body were not Fain's.

Thank goodness for the long time periods customary between sentencing and execution, or else Fain would have been long gone.

The current prosecutor in that jurisdiction, as well as the girl's family, accept the fact that Fain is innocent.

Amazingly, the original prosecutor still feels Fain is guilty, based on an FBI shoeprint expert who said shoeprints at the scene matched Fain's.  The FBI also conducted the now-discredited test indicating the hairs were Fain's.   Perhaps one should conclude that having been proven wrong once, the FBI's experts in this case are not reliable?

The original prosecutor also bases his continued belief in Fain's guilt on the testimony of two jailhouse informers.  We all know how reliable their testimony is.

Death Penalty: Find An Innocent Executed

In any event, I think the Holy Grail of anti-death penalty work is to find a person incontrovertibly innocent who was executed.   There have been at least 96 instances since 1973 of wrongfully convicted people set free before the states had a chance to kill them.  Since these are just the cases we know about where a defendant was wrongfully convicted, surely there must have been other such cases where -- because of a lack of outside intervention to prove innocence -- the defendants were wrongfully executed as well.

Death penalty opponents are often asked why such a case has not been found.   The explanation is that with their limited resources, death penalty opponents can't even properly handle the cases of those still living, let alone delve into the cases of those already executed.

Some wealthy, anti-death penalty benefactor should, therefore, make an express grant for the purpose of investigating the most promising cases where it might be proven that an innocent person was wrongly executed.

Support for the death penalty has been slowly eroding the past few years, based in part on all the cases where DNA evidence proved innocent those about to be executed.  If an instance of actual wrongful execution could be documented, the death penalty would take a much more significant dive in public support, perhaps enough to get rid of it altogether.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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