Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington, announced that his state will be joining the growing list of states that will no longer have the death penalty.
“Blah blah!” you scream. “Blah blah blah blah!”
Yes, yes, I know. Some people deserve it, vengeance should be part of our legal system, and even though there is absolutely no evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent, it is a deterrent. Yes, I know. Thank you. You can stop now.
I will never shed a tear for certain people who received the death penalty in America (Good riddance, Timothy McVeigh). But I am very familiar with our judicial system. It’s what I do for a living, you know. And all of us who do this for a living will admit that our system is not perfect. Innocent people get found guilty all the time, and guilty people get found not guilty. Sometimes we don’t realize our mistakes until way later. And then it is often too late to do anything about it.
We should not have a punishment that is 100% irreversible in a system that is not 100% perfect. Too many innocent people (mostly poor, largely minority) have been put to death only to be exonerated much later by DNA evidence, witnesses recanting their testimony, or proof of DA and/or police conspiracies. It does happen, and more often than we would like to admit.
And we as a country should not stand for it.
That doesn’t mean we free everybody. Governor Inslee made that very clear with his announcement. “No one is getting out of jail!” he said.
So good job, Washington. Maybe soon the US will join the rest of the advanced civilized democratic world in getting rid of the death penalty completely. But by then, how many more innocent people would we have killed?