Northern New York Newspapers
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Mon., Jul. 28
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Capital punishment cannot be reversed

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The British learned two centuries ago that the death penalty does not work as a deterrent to crime.

In the early 19th century, children as young as 7 could be sentenced to be executed in public by hanging for crimes as petty as pick-pocketing.

While crowds would gather to watch the executions, boys as young as 7 would be picking the pockets of the bystanders.

History also demonstrates that sentences to death are not applied fairly to all who may deserve such punishment, with people of color and the poor representing a disproportionate population of those in prison and those on death rows across America.

NPR recently aired a program discussing the recent uses of DNA to establish the innocence of convicts and to reverse the sentences and convictions of innocent folks who are in prison or sitting on death row.

I submit that as citizens, we all share in the guilt and disgrace when we, the state, put to death just one innocent citizen for justice or revenge.

The facts show that innocent people have been put to death in this nation.

What percent of those being murdered by the state are actually the wrong person and are victims of bad lawyering, bad justice?

Corruption and incompetence in our justice system certainly makes the death penalty a cruel and unusual punishment, especially targeting the poorest among us.

Once dead, the innocent cannot be resurrected back to their families and communities.

Those wrongly convicted but spending life in prison have at least the hope of resurrection if later evidence proves them to be wrongly convicted.

Who among us, knowing of our innocence or the complete innocence of a loved one, would wish to be accused, tried, convicted, imprisoned and/or sentenced to death based upon bad evidence, bad lawyering and justice on the cheap?

Frank J. Thies


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