Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On Why The Death Penalty is Indefensible

Former Prosecutor Marty Stroud apologizes for sending an innocent man to death row:
In 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning. To borrow a phrase from Al Pacino in the movie "And Justice for All," "Winning became everything."
After the death verdict in the Ford trial, I went out with others and celebrated with a few rounds of drinks. That's sick. I had been entrusted with the duty to seek the death of a fellow human being, a very solemn task that certainly did not warrant any "celebration."
In my rebuttal argument during the penalty phase of the trial, I mocked Mr. Ford, stating that this man wanted to stay alive so he could be given the opportunity to prove his innocence. I continued by saying this should be an affront to each of you jurors, for he showed no remorse, only contempt for your verdict.
How totally wrong was I.
I speak only for me and no one else.
I apologize to Glenn Ford for all the misery I have caused him and his family.
I apologize to the family of Mr. Rozeman for giving them the false hope of some closure.
I apologize to the members of the jury for not having all of the story that should have been disclosed to them.
I apologize to the court in not having been more diligent in my duty to ensure that proper disclosures of any exculpatory evidence had been provided to the defense.
Glenn Ford deserves every penny owed to him under the compensation statute. This case is another example of the arbitrariness of the death penalty. I now realize, all too painfully, that as a young 33-year-old prosecutor, I was not capable of making a decision that could have led to the killing of another human being.
No one should be given the ability to impose a sentence of death in any criminal proceeding. We are simply incapable of devising a system that can fairly and impartially impose a sentence of death because we are all fallible human beings.
The clear reality is that the death penalty is an anathema to any society that purports to call itself civilized. It is an abomination that continues to scar the fibers of this society and it will continue to do so until this barbaric penalty is outlawed. Until then, we will live in a land that condones state assisted revenge and that is not justice in any form or fashion.
Amen.  I have to give Marty Stroud credit.  Unlike most prosecutors, he has admitted his error.  Others will argue that the convict is guilty even in light of exonerating DNA evidence.  And don't for a second think Glenn Ford is a very rare exception.  In spite of the obvious evidence that death penalty convictions are very frequently flawed, a large percentage of the country goes to extreme lengths to make sure they can keep killing people.  It makes me sick watching state after state pass laws to keep the supplier of their murder drugs secret so the companies won't face backlash from death penalty opponents.  Where is the transparency?  Where is the accountability when the state-sanctioned murder goes awry, like it did in Ohio and Oklahoma?   End the death penalty now.  Let the United States join the civilized nations of the world. 

No comments:

Post a Comment