NY leads Nation in Wrongful Convictions

 New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty

Abolitionists! As if we needed another reason to oppose the death penalty in New York State…Please watch for coverage in your newspapers and get letters into the editor and to your State Senator/Assemblyperson! Go to http://capwiz.com/lwvny/state/main/?state=NY to find their contact info or write Colleen.Eren@yahoo.com

By David Kaczynski:

Today’s report by The Innocence Project detailing New York’s shameful record as a national leader in wrongful convictions must give pause to anyone who thinks our state should reinstate the death penalty.

We are the national leader in DNA-based exonerations of people convicted of murders they did not commit in this decade. Worse than Texas. If that doesn’t give us pause, what will?

Six of the seven wrongfully convicted in this decade could have faced the death penalty were it in effect at the time the crimes were committed, and he seventh was originally charged with a capital offense. If we restore the death penalty, the question is when – not if – an innocent person will be executed in New York.

Wrongful convictions have for a long time been among the major reasons that growing majorities of New Yorkers now support life without parole as the maximum sentence for those convicted of the most serious crimes.

Capital punishment is a system that buries its worst mistakes. You can’t correct a mistake after someone is executed.

And the fact remains that five of every six homicide cases do not yield any biological and DNA evidence. If the problems of mistaken eyewitness testimony, false confessions, forensic errors, inadequate legal defense and mishandling of evidence – or worse – by law enforcement officials marks cases where at least DNA evidence was able to establish innocence, how many other people languish in prison and potentially face capital punishment despite their innocence?

At a minimum, the Innocence Project report highlights a series of reforms to improve criminal procedures and guarantee the right of all defendants to an effective defense that must be enacted before any consideration can be given to restoring the death penalty.

Governor Spitzer and state legislators should read the Innocence Project report carefully. Worst in the nation is not where we want to be.

They should learn what all New Yorkers have learned. We can live without the death penalty.

Copyright © 2007 New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty and rob zan

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