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A shot at the death penalty, upon exiting

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From Jackson, Mississippi, comes this AP story by Jack Elliott. "Outgoing Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr.'s impassioned call for an end to the death penalty has drawn both criticism and praise."  For those not familiar with Justice Diaz's record: "Diaz, a presiding justice, returned to the court in May 2006 nearly three years after being acquitted of federal bribery in 2005 and tax evasion charges in 2006." While the jury was apparently not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, the voters of Mississippi apparently saw enough reason to dump him.

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Judge Diaz performs a legal hit and run with his final decision, which falters at fact and logic.

1. Judge Diaz dead wrong on innocence .

Judge Diaz needs to review what the distorted "exonerated", now, means to death penalty opponents. They created their own definition, which has nothing to do with actual innocents.

The false claim is that 130 exonerated inmates have been released from death row, because of evidence of innocence. Any effort at fact checking will show this number to be unsupported.

Possibly, 25 out of about 8000 so sentenced, in the modern era, have evidence of actual innocence - about 0.3% of those so sentenced. They have all been released.

The evidence is that innocents are more at risk when we don't use the death penalty.

To state the obvious, living murderers, in prison, after release or escape, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.

No knowledgeable, honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections, meaning actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed. That is. logically, conclusive.

2. Judge Diaz: dead wrong on deterrence.

16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, find for death penalty deterrence. No surprise. Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.

Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.

All prospects of a negative outcome deter some. There are no exceptions. The most severe criminal sanction would be the least likely to contradict that truism.

The question is not "Does the death penalty deter some potential murderer?" Of course it does.

The question is "Can opponents prove that some are not deterred?" Of course they can't.

3. Judge Diaz wrong on revenge.

The criminal justice system goes out of its way to take revenge out of the process.? That is why we have a system of pre existing laws and legal procedures that offer extreme protections to defendants and those convicted and which provide statutes and sanctions which existed prior to the crime

It is also why those directly affected by the murder are not allowed to be fact finders in the case.

The reality is that the pre trial, trial. appellate and executive clemency/commutation processes offer much ?greater time and human resources to capital cases than they do to any other cases, meaning that the facts tell us that defendants and convicted murderers, subject to the death penalty, receive much greater care and concern than those not facing the death penalty - the opposite of a system marked by revenge.

4. Judge Diaz, the death penalty, per se, can't be unconstitutional.

Twice, the 5th Amendment authorizes execution. . .

(1) “ No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury . . . " and

(2) ". . . nor shall any person . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . ”. . .

The 14th amendment is, equally, clear:

" . . . nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . ." . . .

Not surprisingly, over 200 years of US Supreme Court decisions support those amendments and the US Constitution in authorizing and enforcing the death penalty.

Of course the death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment.

Sincerely, dudley sharp

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