There aren’t many reasons to envy New Jersey, but here’s one I heard about today:
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – New Jersey moved closer to eliminating the death penalty on Monday when its Senate and an Assembly committee voted in favor of making life in prison without parole the state’s top criminal penalty.
I believe the death penalty is a just punishment for a variety of serious crimes; however, I also believe the state is incapable of applying the punishment in a manner that is (a) equitable and (b) sure not to execute an innocent man or woman along the way. To paraphrase, it’s better to see ten guilty monsters spend their lives in prison than for one innocent man to have his life end with an injection.
I also realize that in a number of cases, there will be confessions to the heinous crimes committed, some certainly coerced, the bulk most likely not. However, this brings us back to the same problem of deciding a line of sufficient evidence to take a life, and that line will necessarily be flawed with the same disorders that prevent the state from guaranteeing that only the guilty die.
Such is the process of due process.
So, yes, I’m just as revolted as everyone else by the crimes of rapists and murderers and molesters and the like. I’m not, however, willing to trade the slaughter of an innocent to satiate the bloodlust of a victim, of society, or of myself, when an alternative that keeps us just as safe (assuming truth in sentencing), that attains the same result sans personal, vengeful gratification of the aggrieved, is available.
For those of you that would, imagine a day when perhaps it is you lying on the executioner’s table, needle in your arm, thinking “I did not do this!”
Well, yeah, but hey – so sorry! – we got those ten real bad guys so we’re nine up on the plus side!