A recent article in the New York Times suggests that the US Supreme Court may soon review state laws that allow judges (who are mostly elected in partisan elections) to override juries recommendations and sentence capital murder defendants to the death penalty. I personally welcome this, as I have felt some unease with the current scheme for some time.
I am not opposed to the death penalty as a concept. I do believe that there are some crimes so terrible that the person committing them forfeits his life. However, the method and process by which the death penalty is applied in the United States is not a level playing field. Defendants with no financial resources are often appointed lawyers who do not have their best interests at heart or are simply not competent to handle complex criminal cases. There are several examples of innocent people being put to death in the recent past. Also, it is troubling that we seem eager to execute inmates with severe mental disabilities or handicaps. That’s not what America is about.
It is time for this country to reexamine whether having the death penalty is in our national best interest and whether any benefits from its practice outweigh the negative results.