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Matno. More DP stuff, FYI.(6 posts)

Matno. More DP stuff, FYI.eyebob
Jan 15, 2003 9:19 AM
I didn't want to post this under the ong Gov Ryan thread below because I wasn't sure that you'd see it. I took some time to read up on Cassell (online) and he's got quite the reputation for his legal knowledge and influence. Lest we forget that there's two sides to this debate, here's some stuff written in opposition to his claims. The Wall St. article that you reference is readily available online and the study/critique that he attempts to refute is co-authored by a guy referenced in the first link below.

And I found a general article written specifically to refute Cassell's arguments.

Champion of the Death Penalty

By then, he was already an outspoken champion of capital punishment. In 1987, while Cassell was still at the Justice Department, the Stanford Law Review published a ground-breaking article by Hugo Bedau of Tufts University and Michael Radelet of the University of Florida. Their study described 350 "potentially capital cases" in which the authors believed that innocent people had been wrongfully convicted--and 23 apparently wrongfully executed. In response, Cassell and a colleague, Stephen Markman, drafted a rebuttal, claiming that all 23 men were guilty.

In a recent telephone interview, Radelet emphasized that he has never met Cassell and has no reason to question his integrity. But he stood by the findings of his original article. "What Cassell and Markman did was rehash the case for the prosecution, and then declare victory," he said. "I don't think that what they said erased the substantial doubts about guilt in those cases. I stand by every single one of them."

Most death penalty experts agree with Radelets criticism of the study. Moreover, they say, Radelet and Bedau's study clearly demonstrates serious inequities in the criminal justice system, even if we don't finally know whether these 23 men were innocent. But Cassell has largely ignored these criticisms. Instead, wherever he goes, he repeats one basic point like a mantra: There is, he says, no documented case of a wrongful execution in America for at least 50 years. In just one week in June, he made this claim on NPR's Talk of the Nation, CNBC's Hardball, and the FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes. The idea that an innocent person has been put to death, he says, is an "urban legend."

But no proof of a wrongful execution is not the same as no likelihood of a wrongful execution. As conservative columnist George Will has written, the mounting evidence of errors in capital cases "compels the conclusion that many innocent people are in prison and that some innocent people have been executed." In June, Columbia University law professor James Liebman released a study of all the death sentences that were appealed (as almost all death sentences are) from 1973 to 1995: More than two-thirds of them, he found, were eventually overturned. Since 1976, the Death Penalty Information Center reports, 87 death row inmates have been freed from prison for lack of evidence.

Cassell's response to the Liebman study was true to form. The researchers, he wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "were unable to find a single case in which an innocent person was executed. Thus, the most important error rate--the rate of mistaken executions--was zero." But this analysis willfully misses Liebman's point. Of course his study didn't find anyone who was wrongfully executed--it was designed to document the cases in which death sentences were overturned, not to root out the cases in which they should have been.

What's most striking about Cassell's position is his absolute confidence about an issue that is--almost by definition--riddled with uncertainty. "Believe me," Cassell says with startling finality, "the abolitionists are well-funded. The reason they haven't been able to find someone [wrongfully executed] isn't the lack of energy and funding; it's because there isn't anyone out t
If you're sick of the topic, don't bother to read this, but....eyebob
Jan 15, 2003 9:44 AM
if you're still awake. Follow this link to the bottom of it's page to see the list of 60 crimes that qualify for the DP in Federal Court.
little misleadingDougSloan
Jan 15, 2003 10:17 AM
To be fair, almost all of the 60 crimes involve killing people; not very accurate to describe them as separate crimes. Only espionage and treason do not require death as an element. So, looking at it that way, there are only 3 crimes.

I particularly like...Brooks
Jan 15, 2003 11:32 AM
"Fatal violence against maritime navigation" and
"Fatal violence against maritime platforms"
Is this killing a bouy? ;-0
Both Articles are informativeAlpedhuez55
Jan 15, 2003 12:57 PM
BT Thanks for the articles, They were both pretty informative. It is interesting to read both sides of the issue.

I think both sides are probably guilty of numbers games. I do not buy some of the numbers wrongly convicted numbers the anti-death penalty side throws out, nor do I buy into the "Urban Myth" theory the other side throws out.

You could make just as good an argument that not everyone who was freed from death Row was innocent. Lack of Evidence or released on a technicality does not always mean they did not do it. Finding someone else's DNA could mean an accomplice is getting away with murder as well. Being found innocent does not always mean you did not do it either.

I think there are many mandatory appeals processes that are a safeguard. I think it averages about 10 years before an execution is performed. I know both vary state to state, but it is not like you are walked out of the courtroom into the Gallows.

Our system is far from perfect. Eyebob, I am sure you are somewhat familiar with the corruption in the Boston FBI office and their ties to the Mafia. There were 4 men charged with a murder from information from a Mob Informant, Joe Barboza. Two of the men two were cleared after 30 years. Apparantly all they were guilty of was owing the mob money. The FBI new they were innocent but let 2 men die and 2 men rot in prison. Here is a link to the story:

Though they were not executed or scheduled for it, these two men died in prison for crimes they did not commit. Life without parole is form a death penalty as well. THis as as good as killing innocent man. Our system is flawed. THe agents involved in this case as well as any any officer or prosecutor who knowingly withholds evidence that could clear someone should receive a severe punishment. I just beleive these types of cases are the exception rather than the rule.

I am suppoter of the death penalty, but not a strong one. But I think there are safeguards that protect an innocent person from being executed. THe appeals process is one that takes a few years and allows time for new disovery or re-examination of evidence. Technology such as DNA Testing can help support claims. Commutations & Pardons are a safeguard as well and Governors should use this power responsibly on as case by case basis as they see fit.

I feel the death penalty can be justified in the worst of cases such as serial killers, Cop Killers and Child Murderers where the judge and governor (or president if applicable) beleive there is no doubt of a persons innocence. Though not perfect, I feel confident that in our current system, the likelyhood of an innocent man being executed is virtually Zero.

Mike Y.
Yes, they are. Thanks.Matno
Jan 17, 2003 9:27 AM
I agree that both sides are prone to quote the numbers that make them look the best. Kind of like Bill Clinton claiming that the Brady Bill prevented 100,000 criminals from buying guns and the NRA claiming that less than 40 people were prosecuted for attempting to purchase a handgun illegally. Both figures may be true, but they sure paint a different picture. Just goes to show that everything must be taken with a grain of salt. (The article I cited was certainly not from a neutral source, and I don't think any of them really are). It sure would be nice to have a research organization that could afford to do major studies without any sort of "agenda." Too bad it's not going to happen.

I still don't know what to do about corruption in the system that we're not already doing. Inter-agency review might help, but there's still the possibility of human weakness. Did you happen to see the movie "Minority Report"? I can't help but think that a lot of people would actually support an agency like the "Pre-crime Division" if the technology were real... Certainly not me, but judging by the huge (and utterly ridiculous) reactions people make in response to things like the DC sniper attacks and 9/11, it seems that people are more concerned with security than liberty. Sad. Benjamin Franklin once said, "Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve neither security nor liberty." I agree.