When I was younger, it was all black and white. You murdered someone, you got the death penalty.
I had always been a death penalty supporter. The mindless savagery of many killers is horrifying, and vengeance somehow seems satisfying. I thought, with the high level professionalism of police officers and prosecuting attorneys, and knowing there would be air-tight evidence, that innocent people being convicted of murder was rare-rare-rare, close to impossible.
At some point, ‘black and white’ started to turn a little ‘gray.’ Now and again a new technology, DNA testing, would prove that someone on death row was actually innocent. Then more and more inmates were proven innocent.
My confidence in the ‘system’ was a bit shaken.
In 2011 Governor Pat Quinn put a moratorium on death penalty in Illinois, because it turned out too many on death row were being proven innocent by DNA evidence. He cited 20 cases where death row prisoners were released, not on some technicality, but because they were proven innocent.
Any execution, even just one, of an innocent man would be inexcusable, but there are an astonishing number of cases around the United States where an innocent man was sentenced to the death penalty.
What causes these errors? Zealous prosecutors anxious to clear cases, incompetent defense attorneys, faulty witnesses, etc., etc.
Wisconsin repealed it’s death penalty way back in 1853.
Thank goodness, because the state would probably right now be executing two seemingly innocent individuals.
Don’t take my word for it, watch “Making a Murderer” on Netflix. See a defense attorney working to assist the prosecutors. Watch a 16-year-old mentally slow child tell the police and his lawyer that he was innocent, only to…
– have the police badger him into a confession after many hours of interrogation,
– have his attorney allow the child to be interrogated again by police, without an attorney present,
– have the ‘defense’ force the child to draw pictures of an imaginary crime scene, telling him exactly what to draw, when the defense knew the drawings would be used to convict the child to a life sentence (but telling the child the drawings would help him)
Warning: If you believe in the U.S. justice system, this show will make you queasy, at minimum. (‘Pissed off’ is a more likely response.) Worse, this shows there is no valid system of justice in Wisconsin – just a ‘conviction system.’
Be wary if you plan to visit the dairy state. With ego-driven prosecutors, unethical police, incompetent judges, and severely disturbing decisions by the Wisconsin appeals court and state supreme court, being ‘accused’ there is every bit the same as actually being guilty.
The whole Wisconsin legal system is messed up, bottom to top.
“Making a Murderer” is a 10-episode documentary that (spoiler alert) does NOT have a happy ending. You, however, will be much-much wiser for having viewed it.