I have had deep concerns about the death penalty for many years, but I could always find reasons not to take a strong stand. But two weeks ago I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.
I was astonished and horrified by Stevenson’s story of his life work: representing the poor and powerless wrongly convicted of serious crimes. And now I know why we must abolish the death penalty. I have no more doubts; I am no longer uncertain.
We know that the United States has an enviable criminal justice system. But we know our system is seriously flawed. We have now seen hundreds of people on Death Row exonerated by innocence projects like Stevenson’s. And we know that we have executed many who were innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted.
We can stop that. Our criminal justice system is operated by humans, often plagued by biases, prejudices, ignorance, meanness and incompetence. So be it. We cannot guarantee perfection. But we can stop killing innocent people caught up in this imperfect but necessary system.
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Marilyn S. Daniel