Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Ride the Lightning. And Hurry Up About It!

California State Rep. Dolph Lundgren and Arizona Sen. Jonesinto Kill... er, make that Dan Lungren (R) and Jon Kyl (R), have introduced a bill in the House and Senate called the "Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005," aka the "Would You Hurry Up and FRY Them Already?! Act of 1478." This piece of... legislation "would limit the ability of defendants facing the death sentence to have their cases reviewed by federal courts in what are known as habeas corpus appeals." According to these two jag-offs:

You see delays in death penalty cases where they are allowed to drag on for 15 or even 25 years. Defense attorneys have come to believe the longer they delay, the better it is for their clients," Lungren said in an interview.

"We're trying to ensure that habeas corpus is not used as a reason for interminable delays and that defendants get one bite of the apple and not multiple bites," he said.

Hell, why not just POISON the apple and kill them off that way? Why not skip the trial altogether and just have roving gangs of vigilantes roam our towns, rounding up criminals and beating them to death with a sack full of doorknobs? There's a reason for these appeals, guys:
"It is critical. Often, the defendant's original lawyers are so poorly funded and so overworked that they cannot do the basic research that the case requires. That's why the error level is so high in death penalty cases," said one California defense lawyer, who asked not to be named.

A study headed by Columbia University statistician and political scientist Andrew Gelman of all 5,826 death sentences imposed in the United States between 1973 and 1995 found that 68 per cent were reversed on appeal.

The most common reasons were "egregiously incompetent lawyering, prosecutorial misconduct or suppression of evidence, misintruction of jurors or biased judges or jurors,"
said the study published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.

Look, are there people out there that our society would be better off without? Yes, of course there are, and I'm not necessarily against the death penalty, in theory. But I am against it 100% in practice, because our judicial system is obviously so fucked up that it can only manage to get death penalty cases right 32% of the time. The rest are overturned. And the Republican solution to this is to do away with the process that overturns those decisions, rather than do something about the fact that thousands of people are sentenced to death under questionable circumstances? This is basically a "kill 'em all, and let god sort 'em out" policy. Are we all disgusted yet?


Michael Grant said...

For the record, since no one asked - I am against the death penalty 100% even in theory. a) your 32% are the ones we just haven't necessarily found the evidence to prove them innocent, and b) what gives anyone the right to kill anyone no matter what they've done? As my esteemed coeditor points out, there are scumbags out there who probably do deserve to die, but I can't stomach the idea that 12 jokers from off the street are sitting around deciding who lives and who dies - no matter how compelling the evidence.

No matter what reason one might have to kill another person, it's still murder and it's still wrong.

Except maybe in certain cases of treason.

emeryroolz said...

To clarify, those 68% aren't necessarily found "innocent," they are just judged to not warrant the death penalty. Reversal of a death sentence isn't the same as a reversal of a conviction. It could mean they just have their sentence changed to life in prison. And also for the record, I don't think 12 yahoos on a jury or some judge have the right to impose the death penalty. Which is why I'm opposed to it in practice.

Michael Grant said...

The details weren't really the point, I just meant, well you said -
that it can only manage to get death penalty cases right 32% of the time.

I just meant who's to say that the 32% are right? The yahoos on the jury? etc. etc.

But I know that's not really your point either. Your overall point is correct, of course. Did you see the (nerd test) episode of American Dad where someone said something about getting an abortion and the dad said, "Oh no you don't! That's the one way we Republicans don't like to kill things." Or something vaguely similar.