This weekend, CNN published a story explaining that a Texas state board ruled that arson investigators used "flawed science", resulting in the execution of an innocent man in 2004. In 1991, Cameron Todd Willingham was accused of deliberately starting a fire which killed his three daughters in their Corsicana Texas home. Now, 19 years after Mr. Willingham was first falsely accused, 18 years after Mr. Willingham was sentenced to death, and 6 years after he was executed by the state of Texas, the Texas Forensic Science Commission--among others--has found that this human being was, in fact, determined to be guilty by means of "flawed science". The evidence, reviewed by three different panels of experts, concluded that the fire should not have been ruled by arson. Thus, Mr. Willingham's trial was unfounded and Texas has not only unjustly added another name to the 462 inmates they have executed since 1976, but ended the life of an innocent human being.
That Mr. Willingham's life was ended prematurely by the state of Texas is not only flawed science, but flawed morals, and flawed justice. The death penalty is irreparable; it cannot be undone. If mistakes are made--as they have been in the past, and will certainly continue to be made in the future--it is not something the state can "fix" with money, programs, or studies. A human being's life is gone forever. Mr. Willingham is far from the first innocent man to be executed, however. The cost of murdering an innocent human being is far too high a price to pay for an inefficient, ineffective, and expensive form of punishment/deterrence. The execution of innocent men like Cameron Todd Willingham is a travesty for the state of Texas, the United States, and humanity as a whole. By executing human beings, the United States sacrifices any moral high ground that it may claim in its judicial process, and the fact that every year innocent lives are stolen because of a broken criminal justice system only further underscores the appalling nature of the death penalty, and the pressing need to ban this barbaric form of punishment. The death penalty is permanent. Nothing will bring back Cameron Todd Willingham. However, we can honor the memories of fallen innocent human beings by working to save the lives of the innocent human beings currently on death row, and the countless others who will inevitably be sentenced to death in the future. We must ban the death penalty in Pennsylvania, the United States and the world, forever.
Cameron Todd Willingham's final words:
"The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been prosecuted for 12 years for something I did not do. From God's dust I came and to dust I will return so the Earth will become my throne. I gotta go, Road Dog."
Posted by Aaron Spanger, PADP Intern, July 26, 2010