The death penalty is barbaric. It's time to abolish it.
ST. LOUIS, Missouri (AP) -- To the very end, convicted killer Larry Griffin shouted his innocence to the world -- through court filings, in pleas to the governor and to nearly any reporter willing to listen.
None of it helped. Griffin, strapped to a white gurney, was executed by injection. Now, 12 years later, St. Louis' chief prosecutor will soon release a report offering an opinion on whether Missouri put an innocent man to death.
The report, two years in the making, has no legal weight but could have a powerful effect on the nation's death penalty debate. Nearly 1,100 people have been executed in the United States in the modern era that began with Gary Gilmore's death by firing squad in Utah in 1977, and not one has been proved innocent after the fact.
A finding of innocence could confirm what capital punishment foes have been arguing for years: that the risk of a grave and irreversible mistake by the criminal justice system is too high to allow the death penalty.
Nevertheless, the findings in the Griffin case may not settle the argument over whether he committed the crime. His guilt or innocence hinges not on DNA or other powerfully persuasive forensic evidence, but on witness accounts.
In the years since his 1981 conviction, two crucial witnesses have recanted or wavered, and a third witness who could have helped Griffin never took the stand, for reasons that are unclear.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The death penalty
I want to call your attention to a CNN article with you called "Did Missouri execute an innocent man?" and give you part of what it says: