Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I thought I would cross-post a comment I posted on the NCADP blog. It may spark discussion, it may not. As always, do with it as you will (this was in response to a comment about Senator Sessions' objection to the DNA bill).


Well...that's only partially true. In many cases, there is evidence that only one person was around the victim at the time of the murder. If there was DNA found on the scene (particularly semen), and that DNA is not your's, its pretty good evidence that you were not the one person there. Such evidence is particularly helpful in rape cases. At the VERY least, evidence of another person's DNA at a crime scene provides serious reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt. Our justice system relies on the burden of proof. A defendant is not to be found guilty if the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. If the jury is given reasonable doubt by the presence of another's DNA, then the defendant should not be convicted. So, even in cases where DNA would not completely exonerate a defendant (there were multiple participants, time is off, etc.), its availability is still strong evidence of reasonable doubt. Do we really want to kill people who we have a reasonable doubt may not have committed the crime?

I don't know about the folks at NCADP, but many of the abolitionists that I know are against the death penalty for a myriad of reasons and not just because the justice system is imperfect. For many, it is just a moral outrage. That said, most of us are not against punishing criminals. Of course, people who commit crimes should be punished. It is, however, a completely different animal to murder someone for a crime that they did not commit. At least if you discover that someone who is punished only by imprisonment is not guilty, you can free the person after you discover their innocence. Once a condemed person is executed, they are gone forever...a mistake cannot be corrected. There is a difference. Personally, I abhore violence of any kind. If you murder someone, you SHOULD be punished. I just do not believe that punishment should involve the taking of your life.

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