Monday, 26 March 2007

Postponing executions the right thing to do

Postponing executions the right thing to do

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland postponed the executions of three Ohio condemned convicts in order to review their cases. He rightfully wants to be sure they have not been wrongfully convicted. I commend him for this action.

I hope he will also support the proposed Ohio capital punishment study.

John Murphy, the executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, is strongly opposed to this study. He is quoted in the Columbus Dispatch as saying, "Ohio's legal system hasn't sent anyone to death row who doesn't belong there." The Death Penalty Information Center,, says otherwise. They list Ohio Death Row inmates released as Gary Beeman 1979, Dale Johnston 1990, Timothy Howard and Gary Lamar James 2003 and Derrick Jamison 2005. These men were released by our justice system. One must wonder how many more innocent men are sitting on death row.

With five executions, Ohio had the second highest number of executions in 2006, out-ranked only by Texas.

Since 1970 at least 123 death row prisoners have been found innocent and released through the efforts of dedicated groups like Northwestern University Law School Center on Wrongful Convictions. If not for the efforts of groups like this, many of these prisoners would now be wrongly executed. Many false convictions are the result of incompetent public defenders and prosecutors under such pressure to convict someone that they withhold contradictary evidence or because of witnesses that commit perjury. Capital punishment advocates say it has never been proven that an innocent person has been executed. The reason is there is no legal process to exonerate a person after execution.

I sincerely hope the governor will use this occasion to examine the whole concept of capital punishment. A viable alternative would be life imprisonment without parole. The main benefit is the person could be released if found innocent, an impossibility if they have already been executed.

No one would ever advocate capital punishment if they thought there was a chance they would ever be wrongfully executed.

Imagine yourself on death row for a crime you did not commit. Need I say more?

Darrell L. Shahan

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