John Thompson and the risks of the death penalty

There are many reasons that proponents of the death penalty cite for their purpose. Deterrent to crime, removal of a threat from society, cost and retribution all feature on the list. I am for the death penalty, not for any of the aforementioned reasons, but because I believe that it is just that the punishment fit the crime.

Many who argue against might use the following story as an example of exactly why the death penalty is an incorrect course of action. In doing so, they would miss the point entirely. The following article does not relate so much to the right or wrong-ness of the death penalty, but the system it is part of.

John Thompson was charged with armed robbery and murder in 1985 and consequently spent 14 years on Death Row before being exonerated in 1999. It turned out that his prosecutors had not turned over evidence which proved that he was innocent during the initial trial. Nonetheless, none of these lawyers were prosecuted for their abhorrent actions and many of them are still allowed to practice law to this day. The case exposes a rotten system which puts the lives of innocent people in danger. Death penalty or no death penalty, the law is useless if it is corrupt from within.

I SPENT 18 years in prison for robbery and murder, 14 of them on death row. I’ve been free since 2003, exonerated after evidence covered up by prosecutors surfaced just weeks before my execution date. Those prosecutors were never punished. Last month, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 to overturn a case I’d won against them and the district attorney who oversaw my case, ruling that they were not liable for the failure to turn over that evidence — which included proof that blood at the robbery scene wasn’t mine.

Because of that, prosecutors are free to do the same thing to someone else today.

Read the full article here.


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