Thursday, January 12, 2006

100% bureaucratic accuracy in death cases?

I don't think so. But that's what the highly respected conservative bloggers at Power Line seem to be contending, at least for rhetorical purposes:

The right man

Recently, to considerable fanfare, Virginia Governor (until this weekend) Mark Warner ordered genetic analysis to determine whether a man executed in 1992 may have been innocent. The results are in. They show that the man was present at the crime scene which, in Warner's words, "reaffirms the verdict and the sanction." My understanding is that death penalty opponents have never been able to establish a case in which "the wrong man" was executed. They will undoubtedly continue their quest. But with genetic analysis now possible before the fact of execution, even finding an old case of wrongful execution would not lend much support to the case for abolishing the sanction.

What's with the "they will undoubtedly continue their quest" slam? It's quite ironic that government bureaucracy is so highly defended by conservatives when it comes to the death penalty. It's comforting to know that the wrong man has never been executed in the U.S. Yep, this does get under my skin a bit.


Blogger Wild Bill said...

Curious that the same lawyers who will applaud the wisdom of juries in slamming a judgment against big business suddenly become uneasy when those same juries weigh guilt and innocence in a capital murder case.

Also, you are too flippant in dismissing the fact that we have yet to identify an innocent man actually executed. That is not to say that vigilance for due process should not be maintained (wrongful convictions plainly do occur), but that does not mean those concerns should carry the day irrespective of other facts.

I must also question the soundness of the judgment of those who displayed such earnestness for Coleman's innocence. They seem ignorant to the reality of evil in the world. That they would be so naive regarding human nature casts serious doubt on the wisdom of their judgment.

In the end, this Coleman incident was a futile exercise. Opponents of the death penalty simply reject each instance of guilt as "one case" while they continue on, like Ahab and his whale, searching for the innocent muan who will be the poster child for their campaign. A rather distorted moral sense, I think.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Will Vehrs said...

One can believe in the death penalty and believe in considering all plausible evidence, most notably DNA testing, before rendering the ultimate sanction.

I am one of those.

It's a shame it took so long in this case. It's also a shame that many people and institutions were slandered in the effort to promote Coleman's innocence.

I would suggest that death penalty opponents seek out the case of a prisoner on death row or executed convict who, prior to the crime, had no criminal record, had no financial interest in the death of the victim, and had no personal ill-will toward the victim prior to the crime.

Too often I think DP opponents overreach and make it sound like "innocent" men are framed all the time. Coleman wasn't a choir boy--he'd been convicted of attempted rape. Who else is going to surface as a suspect but someone with a ciminal past and similar MO?

Here's some advice death penalty advocates ought to be handing out proactively: to reduce your chances of being wrongfully convicted, don't engage in criminal enterprises.

9:59 AM  

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