Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I commend Gemma Puglisi, an American University assistant professor, for encouraging her students to learn about the case of Georgia death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis ["Seeking Justice on Death Row," Close to Home, Sept. 28]. Educating people about the broken death penalty system will ultimately lead to its abolition.
Mr. Davis's case exposes one of several flaws in that system: The risk of executing innocent people. Many men and women on death row cannot afford high-quality defense counsel or DNA testing, which isn't obtainable in every state. Since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld new death penalty laws and states reinstated their own, 130 people have been released from death row -- some of whom had been minutes away from execution. Evidence indicates that four men may have been executed in recent years for crimes they did not commit.
There is no posthumous clemency. Once someone is executed, it's too late to revisit the decision.
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty