Wednesday, February 09, 2005

SLATE HAS AN EXCELLENT PIECE by Martha Elliott about the almost-execution (it was stayed at the last minute) of Michael Ross in Connecticut. Two things are clear from reading this article:

  • When mental illness is an issue in a death penalty case, the outcome for the defendant is often worse, because the very factors that psychiatrists take to be evidence of the mental illness are often taken by the jury to be greater evidence of guilt.
  • The death penalty, which is supposed to provide closure for the victim's family, often does the opposite by dragging out the suffering through trial after trial -- and when the execution is called off, as this one was (for very good reason, as the article indicates), the family's agony becomes even worse. If Ross had been sentenced to life in prison without parole, he'd be there now, and his victims' families could start to move on.

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