Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bob Herbert on the Death Penalty

I've been hearing bits and pieces about the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for allegedly starting a fire that killed his three children.  Bob Herbert here gives a more detailed description of the case and why there are good reasons to think that Willingham was innocent. 

This is an important issue for me because I feel it says something very bad about our justice system that the ones executed for crimes are overwhelmingly poor and minorities.  It also points out that forensic evidence, or at least those that interpret it, aren't always reliable, and how highly unreliable eyewitness testimony can be.  Do I want killers set free?  Usually not, certainly not if they are still dangerous.  But if the death sentence cannot be applied equitably, and the innocent freed, then the death penalty should be abolished.

 

Posted via web from reannon's posterous

1 comment:

Texas Moratorium Network said...

If you are shocked that Texas executed a person who was innocent of the crime for which he was executed, then join us in Austin at the Texas Capitol on October 24, 2009 for the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty.

http://marchforabolition.org

At the 7th Annual March in 2006, the family of Todd Willingham attended and delivered a letter to Governor Perry that said in part:

“We are the family of Cameron Todd Willingham. Our names are Eugenia Willingham, Trina Willingham Quinton and Joshua Easley. Todd was an innocent person executed by Texas on February 17, 2004. We have come to Austin today from Ardmore, Oklahoma to stand outside the Texas Governor’s Mansion and attempt to deliver this letter to you in person, because we want to make sure that you know about Todd’s innocence and to urge you to stop executions in Texas and determine why innocent people are being executed in Texas.”

“Please ensure that no other family suffers the tragedy of seeing one of their loved ones wrongfully executed. Please enact a moratorium on executions and create a special blue ribbon commission to study the administration of the death penalty in Texas. A moratorium will ensure that no other innocent people are executed while the system is being studied and reforms implemented.”