Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Other "Vote No" Campaign

I want to quickly draw attention to a group in Wisconsin that's fighting against the advisory death penalty referendum that will be on the ballot this November.

The name of the group cuts right to the chase: No Death Penalty Wisconsin. Their new website is here.

The group boasts backers that range from the Wisconsin Council of Churches to the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence to the ACLU of Wisconsin.

Here are the top twelve reasons the group cites for voting against the death penalty:


1) Risk of Killing Innocents - hundreds of people on death row have been released/exonerated. Four were exonerated only after they died awaiting execution.

2) DNA evidence is not infallible - sloppy lab work and ill-trained staffs have lead to many cases of contaminated evidence. 11 people in Oklahoma have been executed based on contaminated DNA evidence.

3) Death penalty is not an effective criminal deterrent- Crime had not gone down since capital punishment was reinstated in the late 1970s. Moreover, states without the death penalty have much lower murder rates. The South accounts for 80% of US executions and has the highest regional murder rate.

4) Death penalty is racially and economically biased - African Americans account for over 40% of the death row population and are only 12% of the total US population. Most people on death row are poor and uneducated and often cannot afford quality legal assistance.

5) The Death Penalty Costs More - Death penalty cases cost far more than life without parole. All of the appeals, expert witnesses, and lab tests mean that death penalty cases can cost up to of 90 million dollars. Some US counties have gone bankrupt because of a single death penalty case. Wisconsinites need to consider Milwaukee County, the county with the most murders cases, and thus the most potential death penalty cases. Milwaukee County is already on the brink of bankruptcy. The death penalty could cost the state's most populous county millions that would otherwise be going to social services that county residents (many of whom are in poverty) desperately need.

6) The US is one of the world's leading executioners, putting us in a group with countries like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam.

7) The US is one of the few democracies and the only nation in NATO to use the death penalty.

8) Wisconsin has recently enacted tougher sentencing requirements for murder cases, and also, life without parole guarantees no further crimes will be committed.

9) The current method of lethal injection used on death row prisoners is so inhumane that even veterinarians don't use it to put animals to sleep.

10) It is a violation of medical ethics for doctors to assist with executions.

11) Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and many other political and human rights groups oppose the death penalty.

12) The death penalty is opposed by many major religious groups including most Jewish and Christian denominations.


There are reasons on there for just about every position on the ideological spectrum. But, to me, reasons 1-3 are the most potent. For more details on point #3, check out this May post by Paul Soglin.


Blogger krshorewood said...

Here's 13. It does not fight crime. Execute the wrong person and the perpetrator gets off scot free, perhaps to murder again. After all, once the bridge is crossed doing it again is easier.

Usually once the execution is done, the case goes cold.

August 22, 2006  

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