A while ago I wrote to the Governor of Maryland, in the US, congratulating him on repealing the death penalty in that state. I received a reply from him the other day and this was the central paragraph of it…
“In 2008, the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment, led by former United States Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, found that the administration of the death penalty clearly showed racial bias and that no administrative fixes could end the racial disparities. In addition, it reported that the cost to taxpayers of pursuing a capital case is three times as much as the costs of pursuing a non-death penalty homicide conviction. Lastly, the Commission determined that the risk of executing an innocent person was extremely high and that the statistics did not prove that the death penalty was a deterrent. The death penalty did not make us stronger or more secure as a people. Nor did the death penalty make our laws more effective or more just. Capital punishment was expensive, and it did not work.”
Every time you think that the US has gone mad, they do something like this, which, to me, is amazing. And I’m not talking so much about the decision as the rationale behind it. Looking at it from a purely technical perspective, it is a really well thought out argument that covers bases for just about any stakeholder. It doesn’t make you safer, it’s not fair, it’s expensive, it’s not guaranteed to get the right person and it can’t be fixed…there is something in this for everyone, just about.
I know you may think I’ve gone crazy bothering to blog about something like this, but, in a world where sound debate and argument is sadly lacking, you need to appreciate the good ones when they come along. 🙂