Sunday, July 10, 2005

Streamlining State Killing of Innocent People

The Washington Post reports that Congress is fast-tracking a grotesquely unconstitutional piece of legislation that would almost completely eliminate federal review for defendants convicted of a capital crime. For many defendants, federal review would be eliminated entirely. So, if issues of evidence or legal representation that cast doubt on the fairness of the trial or the guilt of the defendant came up after the defendant had gone through the review procedure at the state level, federal appeals courts would not be allowed to hear those cases. The defendant would just go straight to the death chamber.

In other words, no habeus corpus.

Believe it or not, the bill's sponsors say its purpose is to solve the problem of convictions being overturned after new evidence proved the defendant's innocence. Great solution, right? People are starting to have doubts about the death penalty because of all these cases where late-breaking evidence showed the conviction was a dud; so we'll just keep those defendants from telling the federal courts about the new evidence.

Gotta keep killing 'em, guilty or not. We can't let anyone tarnish the reputation of The Great American Death Penalty. What's one or two or ten innocent people lethally injected compared to the importance of saving the institution of state-sanctioned execution?

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