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Are We Executing the Innocent?

We are, according to a Washington Post story.  It starts off:

Science and law have led to the exoneration of hundreds of criminal defendants in recent decades, but big questions remain: How many other innocent defendants are locked up? How many are wrongly executed?

About one in 25 people imprisoned under a death sentence is likely innocent, according to a new statistical study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And that means it is all but certain that at least several of the 1,320 defendants executed since 1977 were innocent, the study says.

Some of us had been under the impression that actual proof  --  like they do in court, for example  -- counts more than an extrapolation in a "study" done without critical outside scrutiny, and by people who started out with an ax to grind.

C&C has covered this territory many times.  Nonetheless, with the latest article to the effect that "it-happened-because-it-must-have-happened," there may be value in going over some of the major points again.
--  It's been 38 years and 1378 executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, and not once have abolitionists proved that an innocent person has been executed (although they spent years lying about Roger Keith Coleman).
--  For an explanation of how impeaching this is to claims like the Post's, see Justice Scalia's devastating concurrence in Kansas v. Marsh.
--  In a sense, the answer to the Post's point is easy:  Where there is any realistic doubt of guilt, don't impose the death penalty.  That would not affect the enormous majority of cases, where factual guilt is so thoroughly proven it's not even contested at trial.  Almost all litigation in capital cases is about mental state mitigation, not factual guilt.
--  There are hundreds if not thousands of cases in which there is no doubt of guilt, and where a jail sentence, no matter its length, would not strike a normal conscience as even approaching justice.  See, e.g., this grotesque episode, in which the drawn-out sex torture and murder of a ten year-old boy was taped by the killer so that he could masturbate to the re-plays. If that's not enough, try this.  Still not persuaded?  Read this. Imprisonment is an adequate answer to many homicides, but "many" isn't "all."
--  Without the death penalty, what are we to do with a prisoner serving LWOP for a prior murder who kills again in prison (or outside),  something that happens every couple of months?  Give the killer a license to do it a third time?  A fourth?  Cut his canteen privileges?  What?
--  Relatedly:  If the question is how we conserve the most innocent life, the answer is easy  --  the death penalty.  The number of non-executed killers who did it again vastly exceeds the number of executed-but-innocent inmates even the most florid abolitionists claim.

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