A couple of weeks ago, we got into a conversation about wrongful convictions and the death penalty. Jeff the Baptist commented:
Bob is right. Some people like to say that the success of these projects is proof that we should, say, abolish the death penalty. Moral debate about that aside, they don't show that at all. What they show us is that most of the wrongful convictions of the past would never even get to trial today.
We are far more capable now of accurately discerning criminal guilt and innocence than ever before. I find it difficult to use that as an argument against specific types of sentencing.
Well, hopefully modern forensic science would prevent such terrible miscarriages of justice. They would have a chance if convicts were allowed to access DNA testing in order to challenge their convictions:
Splitting 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an individual whose criminal conviction has become final does not have a constitutional right to gain access to evidence so that it can be subjected to DNA testing to try to prove innocence. This was one of four final rulings the Court issued Thursday, leaving ten remaining. The next release of opinions is expected on Monday.
If it's even possible to make a criminal justice system good enough to risk the death penalty (consider me a skeptic), knocking down bad decisions like this would be a first step.
HT: Radley Balko