Today’s Hartford (Connecticut) Courant features an excellent op-ed from Terrence P. Dwyer, a retired investigator with the New York State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation. In “More than Reasonable Doubt About Death Penalty” (July 21, 2010), Dwyer expresses his concerns about the risk of convicting and executing the innocent. He also voices concern about the impact of the death penalty on murder victims’ family members. Here’s an excerpt:
“Clearly, by keeping the death penalty in place, we run the unacceptable risk of executing the innocent. Those of us in law enforcement do our best to take the guilty off the streets, and more often than not we get it right. But in a world where mistakes are inevitable, the death penalty has no place.
With the death penalty as a statutory sentence, though, some prosecutors seek it and set in motion a never-ending legal process. This is sad to watch. Everyone in a capital trial — the prosecutors, defense attorneys, investigators and judge — knows that it will take decades before the case is resolved. But prosecutors still go for the death penalty, and victims’ families are left to endure endless trials and appeals.
Though some want to shorten the legal process in capital cases, that is not going to happen. Because of past wrongful convictions, the courts have mandated safeguards. Capital cases will always be a marathon.”
Read more from this important voice of opposition to the death penalty.