Monday, August 27, 2007

Competent defense on death row |

A federal law to improve state-provided counsel for death-row inmates will do the opposite.

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The first line of the article says it all. The change in the federal law will not speed up the process. It's not that speeding up the process is a bad idea in the sense that it is cruel to keep individuals languishing on death row for decades. The debilitating "psychological death" delivered by the well documented "death row phenomenon" should be of concern to any individual concerned with human rights.

The fear is that the new process will only mean less review of sentences, which will threaten the already suspect quality of justice imposed by American courts. The evidence for this statement is found in the impact of the 1996 Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

It should not be easy for the State to kill a citizen. Instead, this task should be the single most difficult objective to achieve. The evidence is abundantly clear that attempts to speed up the process in order to deliver retributive justice fail on both counts.

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