There is a new report out from the National Registry of Exonerations (NRE) a joint project of the University of Michigan and Northwestern University law schools -- and it's a rather frightening indictment of our justice system. According to the NRE, since 1989 there have been over 2,000 cases nationwide where a person has been exonerated (found to be innocent) after being convicted of a felony crime and sent to prison (which comes out to about 87 people a year -- that we know about). Many of these people had served many years in prison before being exonerated.
That in itself would be bad enough, but it gets much worse. At least 101 of those innocent people had been sentenced to death and spent their time on death row. That's right, in just the last 23 years this nation has sent a minimum of 101 people to death row to be executed (or about 4.4 people each and every year).
That's just the number that we know about, and have been released. How many innocent people are still on death row, waiting to be unjustly executed? And even worse, how many innocent people have already been executed? We'll probably never know that number, but we know it does happen. We have recently learned about two innocent people in Texas alone that were unjustly executed -- Cameron Todd Willingham and Carlos DeLuna.
I'm not saying everyone on death row should be released -- far from it. Many of them are vicious and dangerous people, and they should never be allowed to walk free again. But should we really be in the business of executing human beings, especially in light of the knowledge we have about the imperfections of our justice system? Wouldn't it be enough to keep them locked up? After all, an execution is the one thing in our justice system that can't be undone.
Sending innocent people to prison is very wrong. Killing them is unconscionable.
(NOTE -- The picture above was taken from the Facebook page of the Texas Moratorium Network.)
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