Monday, July 20, 2009

Is The News And Observer beyond repair? The Death Penalty

To: Governor Perdue , The State Legislature and media throughout the state

From: Dudley Sharp, contact info below

The News and Observer (NO) says the death penalty is "Beyond fixing" (7/19/09). Based upon their op/ed, it is NO that is beyond repair.

NO says the list of the exonerated from death row tells the tail of how inaccurate the death penalty is. Well, no. More likely, it tells us the poor state of fact checking in the media.

The term"exonerated", as the NO knows, has been, highly misused by both the media and anti death penalty folks (often the same).

The national death row "exonerated" list has grown to 135, but it has nothing to do with the actually innocent sent to and released from death row. Even the New York Times did an article on this obvious anti death penalty deception. (1) Did NO not get the memo?

The number is very likely much closer to 25, or about 0.3% of those so sentenced - meaning the actually guilty sent to death row is about 99.7%. The 25 (as well as the 135) have all been released. (2)

Maybe the NO can do an article on what the difference is between 1) the alleged "exonerated" from North Carolina's death row and 2) for how many of those cases is there proof of actual innocence. It is the only relevant issue in the innocence debate. Why? First, to be clear and honest. Secondly, we can't execute the legally innocent- that is impossible. Therefore, only the actual innocent are the relevant issue.

Is the NO aware of a more accurate criminal sanction than the death penalty?

The NO only mentions that African Americans "are too often caught up in the wheels of the court system, and the chance that they will pay a price for flaws in that system is high."

Why the race baiting? It's unseemly.

In the modern era of the US death penalty, since 1973, whites represent, nationally, 57% of those executed, blacks 34%. In North Carolina, whites represent 28 (65%) of those executed, blacks 13 (30%). It is clear that whites are more likely to suffer the worst flaw- an innocent executed -the number one alleged concern of anti death penalty folks, such as NO. In reality, it is everyone's chief concern.

Why didn't NO point that out? However, let's try to agree that no one wants any innocent human beings convicted of a crime they didn't commit.

In a serious debate, it is ludicrous to imply discrimination because census data on population counts, for different races and ethnicities, is not consistent with the percentage counts of those races/ethnicities on death row. Instead of populations counts, try looking at who is committing capital, death penalty eligible murders, instead. It's a much better barometer.

The NO completely blows it on their concern that the death penalty system can't catch ever mistake. We all know that no system can catch every mistake. The NO overlooked the crucial, relevant issue - the death penalty is more likely to catch a mistake than is any lesser sanction. Put another way, innocents are more protected with the death penalty. (3)

Even NO knows that the death penalty system has, by far, the most extensive due process protections in US law. That means that the actually innocent convicted are more likely in non death penalty life cases and are more likely to die in prison, serving under that sentence, than it is that an actual innocent will be executed. (3)

The NO gets really silly. The NO states: "The (Racial Justice Act's) House champions know better than to swallow that kind of poison pill." For NO, the "poison pill" is the Senate language to resume executions. Why is it a poison pill to implement the death penalty that judges and jurors felt was the most appropriate sanction for the crime committed? Because the NO's goal is to help stop any executions, just like their champions.

From a statistical standpoint, it is fitting that NO agrees with US Supreme Court Justice Blackmun that we should no longer tinker with death's machinery.

That is one judge out of 110 that have served on SCOTUS, or less than 1%. The NO is in perfect company.

Time for the NO to get their act together, if it isn't already "Beyond Fixing".

It isn't. Simply honor the Fourth Estate, present honest and balanced coverage of the death penalty. Period.

1) "The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt", New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak, national legal correspondent for The NY Times. Excerpt: "To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . ". That is out of the DPIC claimed 119 "exonerated", at that time, for a 75% error rate. NOTE: It's hard to understand how an absolute can have a differential of 33%. I suggest the "to be sure" is, now, closer to 25.

2) The 130 (now 135) death row "innocents" scam

3) "The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims

Dudley Sharp
e-mail 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Pro death penalty sites

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