Sunday, February 8, 2009

First Posthumous DNA Exoneration.

Another reason why the death penalty should be abolished. If this guy was on death row it would have been too late.

Timothy Cole was sentenced for 1985 Lubbock rape

Cole refused to admit guilt to get shorter prison term; he died in

DNA tests proved his innocence after another man confessed

A Texas district court judge Friday reversed the conviction
of a man who died in prison nearly a decade ago, almost two decades
into a prison sentence for a rape he swore he did not commit, CNN
affiliate KXAN reported.

Timothy Cole died in prison while serving a sentence for a rape DNA
show he did not commit.


dudleysharp said...

A terrible injustice.

However, had he been sentenced to death, it is more likley he would have been released, before he died.

The Death Penalty Provides More Protection for Innocents
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

Often, the death penalty dialogue gravitates to the subject of innocents at risk of execution. Seldom is a more common problem reviewed. That is, how innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.

Enhanced Due Process

No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.

Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.

That is. logically, conclusive.

Enhanced Incapacitation

To state the blatantly clear, living murderers, in prison, after release or escape, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.

Although an obvious truism, it is surprising how often folks overlook the enhanced incapacitation benefits of the death penalty over incarceration.

Enhanced Deterrence

16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, find for death penalty deterrence.

A surprise? No.

Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.

Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.

What prospect of a negative outcome doesn't deter some? There isn't one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.

However, the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is compelling and un refuted that death is feared more than life.

Enhanced Fear

Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it's a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.

Reality paints a very different picture.

What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.

What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.

What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.

This is not, even remotely, in dispute.

Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.

Furthermore, history tells us that lifers have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc.

In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.

Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have all been released upon post conviction review. The anti death penalty claims, that the numbers are significantly higher, are a fraud, easily discoverable by fact checking.

The innocents deception of death penalty opponents has been getting exposure for many years. Even the behemoth of anti death penalty newspapers, The New York Times, has recognized that deception.

To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . (1) This when death penalty opponents were claiming the release of 119 "innocents" from death row. Death penalty opponents never required actual innocence in order for cases to be added to their "exonerated" or "innocents" list. They simply invented their own definitions for exonerated and innocent and deceptively shoe horned large numbers of inmates into those definitions - something easily discovered with fact checking.

There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

If we accept that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, we can, reasonably, conclude that the DNA cases will be excluded prior to trial, and that for the next 8000 death sentences, that we will experience a 99.8% accuracy rate in actual guilt convictions. This improved accuracy rate does not include the many additional safeguards that have been added to the system, over and above DNA testing.

Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?


Full report -All Innocence Issues: The Death Penalty, upon request.

Full report - The Death Penalty as a Deterrent, upon request

(1) The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt,
New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
national legal correspondent for The NY Times

copyright 2007-2009, Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part, is approved with proper attribution.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Pro death penalty sites (Sweden)

Jr. said...

I agree with some of what is posted here. There are marginally more protections for Death Penalty Cases, however, there have been DNA exonerations from death row. These took place after all other appeals had been exhausted so without a DNA review an innocent person would have been executed. In addition, the errors that have come out in the DNA cases have shown that the criminal justice system is broken in many ways. The protections for death penalty cases do not solve this. The problems with false confessions, bad eye witness testimony and illegal police and prosecutor behavior exists in cases regardless of the penalty.

It is also a fallacy to say the DNA testing is so common now all the errors will be eliminated. There are two problems with this. 1) DNA testing is not universal it does not happen at all in guilty plea cases. As odd as it seems to you and me people have and do plea guilty to a crime they did not commit. DNA testing also does not happen in lots of other cases because of the expense. 2)DNA testing only works in cases with biological evidence. Many many cases do not have biological evidence and thus no testing can occur.

dudleysharp said...

Jr: Some corrections

You wrote: "there have been DNA exonerations from death row. These took place after all other appeals had been exhausted so without a DNA review an innocent person would have been executed."

This is untrue. If there is a DNA exclusion, that stops the appeals process, as it should. Without the DNA exoneration, there may have been many years of appeals remaining for that inmate.

There have been 9 inmates released from death row, because of DNA exoneration. I am not aware that any of them was at the end of the appellate process, before the DNA exclusion. 6-8 additonal inmates who had once been on death row, but had been resentenced to prison, were, later, excluded by DNA, while serving their prison sentence.

Regardless of the penalty, the death penalty always has the better due process. Therefore, from a due process perspective, actual innocents will always be better protected when sentnenced to death.

I am not aware of anyone who has said that all errors could be eliminated by DNA testing. Are you?

No actually innocent person pleads guilty and is then sentenced to death. Never happens. Therefore, the problem you speak of is a reinforcement of my claims.

Jr. said...

How do you know?
"No actually innocent person pleads guilty and is then sentenced to death. Never happens."

Why would it be different then non death penalty cases?

In addition in the extra process for death penalty cases there are questions whether actual innocence can be raised during that process. Scalia and Thomas seemed to argue that it would not violate the constitution to execute an innocence person. Do you agree with this?

dudleysharp said...


A plea bargain is based upon getting a lesser sentence, not a more severe one.

The death penalty is not a lesser sentence than LWOP.

Therefore, the scenario that you discried cannot happen with a death sentence, but only with a lesser sentence.

There have been those rare cases - I cannot recall speifics, now, whereby a guilty murderer has pled guilty and asked for the death penalty.

It is different than non death cases, because there is no sentnece above a death sentence.

The similarity in situations id that in a plea bargain, the plea is always down from the maximum, otherwise there is no plea bargain.

Of course actual innocence can be raised during the process.

One example:

Read the entire opinion of Justice O'Connor