The state of Washington proposed to eliminate the death penalty this past year. Politicians did not move forward on the issue, apparently not sensing a clear mandate from their constituents. In this case, it means that criminal proceedings continue as part of a deeply flawed system that does not insure justice.
The death penalty is a long and expensive process and can involve many factors and outright mistakes when determining guilt and decision to execute. Race of the victim or the accused, social economic status of the victim, news media surrounding the crime, poor police work, an inexperienced defense lawyer, aggressive prosecutors determined to get a guilty verdict, a case of mistaken identification by the witness, inadequate jury instruction and information, even the appearance of the defendant can be an influence.
These considerations make guilt uncertain and innocent people are wrongly executed. To avoid this injustice, many of us favor a system of life imprisonment and restorative justice program. The idea that killing someone will somehow satisfy a need for justice and retribution has to be examined. Let’s encourage our politicians to abolish a dangerously imperfect way of dealing with capital crimes.