Two recent news articles bring attention to the insidious nature of the death penalty. The first article reports that a Louisiana prosecutor wanted the jury in a capital case to know that the defendant had been caught masturbating in his jail cell and was thus unfit to receive a life sentence. The second article informs us about a Tennessee case in which the defendant, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has been denied a new trial despite appellate court rulings in the defendant's favor. DNA evidence in this case points to a wrongful conviction.
What do these cases have in common, aside from the fact that they both involve the death penalty? I suggest that they are the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to showing the insidious nature of capital punishment. When you have ambitious politicians (prosecutors), fear over being labeled soft on crime, and a broken system of indigent defense, the ingredients for winning at all costs are present.
We have seen plenty of evidence regarding police and prosecutorial misconduct. We have seen how judges turn away from evidence of innocence and wrongful convictions in favor of procedural correctness. Perhaps these two cases, and the others like them, are part of the corruption continuum. The death penalty corrupts the legal system, of that I am sure. Why has distributive justice been replaced by winning at all costs?