Still No to the Death Penalty
This week we mourn the loss of State Trooper David C. Brinkerhoff, the second State Trooper shot and killed in the past year.
But I question why this news has prompted yet another debate on capital punishment. The death penalty does not deter crime. Any studies that claim otherwise "fall apart under close scrutiny."
The facts speak for themselves. Across the country, over 100 people have been exonerated and released from death row. The death penalty costs tax payers more than keeping guilty convicts in jail for life.
What most concerns me is race. The death penalty is highly susceptible to institutional flaws and human bias. Though only half of all murder victims are white, 80 percent of cases resulting in execution involved white victims. And only 1 percent of chief district attorneys in death penalty states are black.
During jury selection, blacks are more likely to be excluded from the jury even when providing the same answers to key questions.
A fascinating 2006 report in the Psychological Science journal argues that, in death-eligible cases involving white victims, the physical traits of black defendants "function as a significant determinant of deathworthiness."
This is not how our criminal justice system is meant to function.
I believe the death penalty is not about "law and order," but instead serves as a politically convenient platform. In both its allure and implementation, the death penalty is more reliant on emotion than fact.
If we are going to reduce gun-related crime, then we need stronger and better-enforced gun control laws in New York State and throughout the country. Our brave law enforcement officials deserve nothing less than full protection, not just policies that sound good on cable news.
Should this issue come before the State Senate, my vote is no.
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