I have a strange outlook on the death penalty. I don’t think the death penalty is a cruel or unusual punishment, not, at least, as our founding fathers saw it. The Constitution explicitly mentions a penalty of death for treason. On a case-by-case basis, I’m a big supporter of the death penalty. You see a monster like BTK or Dahmer and you realize those are brains that are broken and there isn’t much hope for rehabilitation.
But the death penalty in general, as we have it today, no, I can’t support that. I can’t support a system that convicts and sentences black men far more often than white men. I can’t support a system that disproportionately targets poor offenders. Most of all, there have been 76 men on death row who have later been exonerated by DNA evidence.
If the legal system were 100% correct and colorblind, I could support the death penalty. But if even one innocent man, through error, is murdered by the state, that is too high a price to pay. Therefore, I have to accept the burden of keeping a BTK on ice for the rest of his life so that no innocent man, like Robert Clark in Georgia, is ever condemned to die. (Yes, Clark was not sentenced to death, rather, life + 20 years, but my point is the same. Innocent men are sometimes convicted unfairly.)
(Sydney Morning Herald) Robert Clark couldn’t stop smiling, despite spending 24 years in jail for a rape he didn’t commit.
That’s because a US judge freed him on yesterday, after DNA evidence proved Clark’s decades of pleading innocent were right.
A smiling Clark hugged and kissed family members, repeatedly saying: “I told you. I told you.”
Clark’s mother died and his children grew up and had families of their own while he sat in prison for a 1981 attack on an Atlanta woman.
His lawyers said DNA from another man matches not only that rape, but two others that were committed later.
“This is a truly horrific case,” said Vanessa Potkin, an attorney for the Innocence Project. “While Robert Clark was wrongfully convicted, it appears the true perpetrator of this crime was out there harming women and children.”
Clark, 45, was convicted and sentenced to life plus 20 years after a woman identified him as the man who carjacked her at gunpoint from outside an Atlanta Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and raped her repeatedly.
But recent DNA tests showed that Clark – who had no prior adult felony convictions – did not commit the crime.
At least all Clark lost was 24 years and not his life. You can free a wrongly-convicted man, but you can’t resurrect a wrongly-executed man.