Monday, April 5, 2010

The killer state

In an editorial today, the Houston Chronicle pointed out that if Texas were an independent nation, it would rank seventh among nations in the number of its citizens that it executed last year. Boosted by Texas' prolific execution rate, the United States as a whole ranks fifth on this dishonor roll, right behind China, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. This country executed 52 individuals last year, of whom 24 were executed in Texas. No other country in the Americas executed a single prisoner last year. Not Cuba. Not Venezuela. Not one American nation besides the United States executed a prisoner.

Moreover, last year alone there were nine inmates who were on death row in American prisons who were exonerated of the crimes for which they had been condemned. How many others who were innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted have nevertheless been put to death? Common sense and the probability doctrine will indicate that such miscarriages of justice have occurred and that innocent men (most of those who are executed are men) have been killed by the state.

Also, all of those who are executed are poor and frequently outcasts of society. When was the last time you heard of a rich man being executed? The dirty truth is that "justice" is for sale in our society. If you have the money and the influence, you can get away with murder. If you are poor and uneducated and without powerful people to speak up for you, your chances of losing your life if accused of a capital crime are relatively high. This is so obviously unfair that it hardly even needs further explication.

Why do we continue to do this? Why do we continue to hang around with the likes of China, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia? Why can't we be at least as forward looking and humane as our other neighbors in the Western Hemisphere such as Venezuela and Cuba?

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