The day after I wrote last week’s blog on the botched Oklahoma execution, two pieces in the paper provided an interesting backdrop.
The first was a report by Samuel R. Gross (University of Michigan Law School) and Barbara O’Brien (Michigan State University College of Law) recounted in the New York Times, written by Jan Hoffman. The two researchers looked at 7,482 inmates sentenced to death between 1973 and 2004, and they concluded that approximately 4.1% were wrongly convicted. Among the cases of exoneration, 18 were based on DNA evidence. The implications of this are far-reaching and horrifying.
The second piece was an opinion piece by the columnist Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. The gist of his argument is that if one supports the death penalty, one should not have a problem with Oklahoma botching the Lockett execution. The crimes he committed were horrific. But ultimately all forms of capital punishment carried out by the state are inhumane–botched or not. So it isn’t the method of execution or how well it is carried out; it is the execution itself.