Three of the prisoners with whom I do volunteer work were very young men on death row in the 1970s. When SCOTUS suspended the death penalty, Oregon commuted their sentences to Natural Life. Although they will never be released from prison themselves, they have dedicated their lives to helping other prisoners learn to avoid the mistakes they have made and become law-abiding citizens. I have known all three for years, and they are a huge factor in my opposition to the death penalty in all situations, with only one possible exception. On the other hand, four horrid Republicans help make theirs the Party of Death.
One kept a paperweight model of an electric chair on his desk. Another boasted about being named the “deadliest prosecutor in America” by the Guinness Book of World Records and mocked defendants with intellectual disabilities. A third was dragged from the courtroom when jurors who acquitted six defendants he had charged with shooting police officers said he approached them and reached for his gun.
These five people are members of a very small club: The death sentences they have obtained are equal to 15 percent of the current national death row population.
Even as most states have moved away from capital punishment, the practice continues to be used in a tiny fraction of counties, and under the leadership of specific prosecutors, according to a new report by the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School.
The prosecutors are Joe Freeman Britt in North Carolina, Robert Macy in Oklahoma, Donnie Myers in South Carolina, Lynne Abraham [DINO] in Philadelphia and Johnny Holmes in Texas. Of these five, only Mr. Myers remains in office. But during their tenures, each either secured dozens of death sentences personally or led offices that won hundreds. And each, in his or her way, embodies the vindictive, idiosyncratic nature of state-sanctioned killing.
The five prosecutors also share a disturbing tendency to break the rules to win. Mr. Macy — the one who pulled a gun on the jury — won 54 death sentences during two decades as Oklahoma County’s district attorney. But courts overturned almost half of them, and they found him guilty of misconduct in one-third of them. Three people he sent to death row were later exonerated…[emphasis added]
From <NY Times>
Oregon still has the death penalty, but they actively seek death warrants only when prisoners request execution. Even that is too much, but it’s far better than Republican dominated states’ practices.
I can see only one possible circumstance in which the death penalty might be warranted. The US system of injustice is already heavily stacked against criminal defendants. If a prosecutor obtains a conviction through criminal means, and the defendant subsequently is proven innocent, that prosecutor should receive the same sentence the innocent defendant endured. If the state has already murdered the innocent defendant, should the prosecutor be killed also? At least the prosecutor could serve Natural Life. What do you think?