Wednesday, March 28, 2012

With the Death Penalty, There are no Winners

“Justice was served, and nobody wins.”

This is a quote by a mother whose son was murdered in Philadelphia. A woman who did not want the murderer put to death because “there’s too much death in Philadelphia.”

Derrick White became the first person sentenced to death by a Philadelphia jury since April 21, 2010. White does not deny committing the crime, but as the victim’s mother said, nobody wins.

It’s clear that she won’t feel closure when Derrick White is put to death. It’s true that a convicted criminal is off the street, but wouldn’t the same thing be accomplished by sentencing him to life without parole? In addition, because of Pennsylvania’s law that automatically sends White’s case to Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court for appeal, how many more times will a grieving mother be forced to relive a tragedy?

When it comes to the death penalty, there are no winners. There are only losers.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

PA: 125 Post-Conviction Death Sentences Overturned!

What would it take for the death penalty to finally be abolished in Pennsylvania or even the entire United States? How long will it be before we realize how arbitrary the system is, and that the act itself is barbaric and senseless? These questions seem unanswerable because the death penalty still remains prevalent in our justice system, but as the number of inmates taken off death row continues to rise, we should feel rejuvenated with hope. Hope that some day our country will be rid of this unjust system.

On March 22, Donnetta Hill and Angel Reyes became the 124th and 125th overturned Pennsylvania death sentences in the post-conviction process. Both were resentenced to life without parole, but Hill continues to maintain her innocence.

It is cases such as these that add to the already high amount of evidence against the efficiency and effectiveness of the death penalty. We allow defendants to sit on death row for years, sometimes decades, all the while forcing the family of victims to relive their tragedies. We use money to fund this broken system that could be much more beneficial in other areas, such as improved education systems or cleaning up a city.

The death penalty is and will continue to be a barbaric and broken tool of “justice” in our country. Until it’s abolished, we will be funding a system that has never been proven to be an effective crime deterrent, we run the risk of executing an innocent person and potentially commit the same crime that we sentence people to death for: murder.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Texas DA Calls for Reevaluation of Death Penalty

A district attorney in the state that leads all others in the number of people executed via the death penalty is now seeking a review of the system.

Craig Watkins, who has been serving as the DA of Dallas County since 2006, has garnered a reputation for resolving wrongful convictions using DNA evidence. The county has exonerated 27 inmates since 2001 (22 through DNA evidence), most of which were during Watkins’ tenure.

Now, Watkins wants the state to review the system to make sure they get everything right. In an interview with the Associated Press, Watkins said, “The conversation needs to be had about if we pursue (the death penalty) and when we pursue it, are we pursuing it against someone who actually committed the crime.”

This comes as somewhat of a surprise given Texas is the most active death penalty state. It could, however, be beneficial to all other states that still use the death penalty. If a death penalty titan state such as Texas can reform their system, surely the other states will follow.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Message to Pennsylvania: "It is Well Past Time for the State to Stop its Machinery of Death"

While the amount of criticism surrounding the death penalty in the United States continues to build up, this so called “crime deterrent” still exists as part of our justice system.

An editorial published in The New York Times highlighted some of the issues raised against the death penalty in Pennsylvania. The article titled, “Pennsylvania and the Death Penalty,” mentioned recent reports done by a Philadelphia Judge that found the amount of money paid to court-appointed lawyers is severely inadequate and often leads to ineffective legal counsel.

The article also mentions the case of Derrick White, who was sentenced to death by a Philadelphia jury on February 29, 2012. Derrick White’s case follows the pattern of poor representation found by the RAND study. White’s lawyers did not take the most basic steps for a capital case; such as entering evidence of his background and failure to hire a death penalty expert to prepare for the case.

The death penalty in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States continues to tarnish our status as a “civilized” nation. In order to transcend beyond barbarism, we must abolish the death penalty now.