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Archive for Friday, August 20, 2010

Exonerated prisoner seeks end of death penalty

The organizers said mistakes land many in jail for crimes they didn't commit.

August 20, 2010

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The criminal justice system makes mistakes.

And as long as Kansas has the death penalty, those mistakes might cost a wrongfully convicted person not only his freedom, but his life.

That was the message Eddie Lowery hoped to send Thursday night at an anti-death-penalty event at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H. Lowery spent 10 years in a Kansas prison for the rape of a woman near Manhattan. After serving his time, he was exonerated through DNA evidence in 2003.

“I believe there still are innocent men and women in prison,” Lowery said. “Possibly on death row ... .”

Lowery said he wants to use his story to abolish the death penalty and work on reforms to prevent wrongful convictions.

The event was sponsored by the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, as well as the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty (KCADP). After the showing of the documentary “No Tomorrow,” which highlighted a death penalty case, Lowery shared his story with a panel that included other anti-death-penalty advocates.

There are currently nine Kansas inmates sentenced to the death penalty, though no one has been executed in the state since 1965.

A bill in the Kansas Senate to abolish the death penalty failed by one vote in February of this year. But Shawn Bryant, an organizer for KCADP, said advocates are looking forward to future work to end the death penalty in the state.

“We’re hopeful that this next session, whoever comes into office, that they will relook at this issue,” he said.

Comments

grammaddy 4 years, 4 months ago

No one has been executed since 1965. Me thinks the State of Kansas has bigger fish to fry. I don't support the death penalty for the exact reasons mentioned in this article, but since it hasn't been used in 45 years, can we move on to something more meaningful?Like finding some money for our schools?

christy kennedy 4 years, 4 months ago

I think the point is that people are still executed in this country and, strangely, this differs between states.

grammaddy 4 years, 4 months ago

The Senate and House in Kansas have no control over what other states do. Neither do its' citizen.Our Congress has better things to worry about.

monkeyspunk 4 years, 4 months ago

I would imagine that abolishing the death penalty in a state that doesn't carry them out yet still sentences people would save the tax payers quite a bit of money when it comes to appeals and other trial related costs.

What is the point of having something on the books that is never carried out yet still costs you money? This is EXACTLY the kind of thing our congress should be worrying about, in addition to other things.

dudleysharp 4 years, 4 months ago

Innocence

The false innocence claims by anti death penalty activists are legendary. Some examples:

"The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents" http(COLON)//homicidesurvivors.com/2009/10/08/the-innocent-executed-deception--death-penalty-opponents--draft.aspx

The 130 (now 139) death row "innocents" scam http(COLON)//homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/04/fact-checking-issues-on-innocence-and-the-death-penalty.aspx

"A Death Penalty Red Herring: The Inanity and Hypocrisy of Perfection", Lester Jackson Ph.D., www(DOT).com/article.aspx?id=102909A

"The Exonerated: Are Any Actually Innocent?" http(COLON)//homicidesurvivors.com/2006/08/21/the-exonerated-are-any-actually-innocent---new-mexico.aspx

Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review" http(COLON)//homicidesurvivors.com/2009/05/04/sister-helen-prejean--the-death-penalty-a-critical-review.aspx

"At the Death House Door" Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted?" http(COLON)//homicidesurvivors.com/2009/01/30/fact-checking-is-very-welcome.aspx

"Cameron Todd Willingham: Another Media Meltdown", A Collection of Articles http(COLON)//homicidesurvivors.com/categories/Cameron%20Todd%20Willingham.aspx

Amy Heeter 4 years, 4 months ago

Actually Hanging is stil on the books in Kansas.

Mixolydian 4 years, 4 months ago

I am staunchly opposed to government executions.

On the other hand, if someone murdered one of my children or wife, I would have little problem personally putting a bullet in their head.

booyalab 4 years, 4 months ago

The death penalty actually came about because of the primal urge to take revenge on someone who kills your loved one. It's a social compromise between the killer getting away with it and you killing them and/or their whole family and starting a never-ending chain of revenge. You just have to look at a gang, or any group operating outside of the law, for evidence of that.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 4 months ago

"I would have little problem personally putting a bullet in their head."

For which you should be prosecuted and punished just like the person you shot. You lower yourself to his level and leave the rest of your family to struggle without you. Didn't accomplish much, did you?

OutlawJHawk 4 years, 4 months ago

The issue is getting a just conviction on the right person. Overzealous attorney prosecuters will do anything for a conviction, even convict the innocent. A federal prosecuter once said it is not about the guilt or innocence of an individual but whether he can convince a jury to convict someone. Many prosecuters are only interested in conviction rates not justice. That judgeship is waiting for them if they destroy enough peoples lives. As long as humans are involved in the justice system, there will be error.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 4 months ago

And over zealous defense attorneys will help dangerous offenders go free. It is a flip of the old coin.

monkeyspunk 4 years, 4 months ago

Throw in the fact that forensic science isn't really science and forensic science practitioners are not scientists and you have our current situation.

booyalab 4 years, 4 months ago

It's funny, two people can look at that guy's story and view it from completely different angles. I don't think about the death penalty. I think, what about the rape? Did the victim lie in a court of law? Did the rape not even happen? Did the rape happen but the rapist got off scott free?

No, our legal system isn't perfect. So we have to make trade-offs. Do we worry more about wrongfully convicting someone or preventing the crime from happening in the first place? And yes, the death penalty deters crime. In 2007, a study was published using a panel data set of over 3,000 countries between 1977 and 1996 and found that each execution saves an average of 18 lives. Even if someone is mistakenly convicted and put to death once every few decades, as much as we want to avoid that, think of all the lives that are saved by getting it right most of the time. I wouldn't push 18 people into the path of an oncoming train to have a one in a hundred chance of saving one person. That's absurd and cruel.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 4 months ago

The death penalty does not deter crime. We've had it for thousands of years yet we still murder one another. I say bring on the hard life sentences so we can free people who are exonerated.

verity 4 years, 4 months ago

"In 2007, a study was published using a panel data set of over 3,000 countries between 1977 and 1996 and found that each execution saves an average of 18 lives."

Cite this, please. From what I've read over the years, exactly the opposite has been found in many studies and I would like to see this particular study.

beatrice 4 years, 4 months ago

I sure would like to know how an execution saves 18 lives, or how this number wouldn't be almost the same compared to life in prison.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 4 months ago

DNA is hardly irrefutable evidence. It makes me nervous the way everyone treats DNA evidence like it's infallible. Have you seen any of the reports coming out about the mishandling of evidence in North Carolina? If the evidence isn't handled properly, it isn't reliable.

There are also problems with the statistics that the FBI and other agencies claim show how unlikely it is that the DNA came from anyone but the defendant, especially when the DNA profile is only a partial profile. Through random chance, searches of DNA databases in Arizona and Maryland have revealed that it's a lot more likely than anyone had ever thought for two complete strangers to share as many as 9 loci. A DNA profile with only 9 loci is a partial profile; such partial profiles are regularly used in court. The defense bar has gotten a lot of resistance from courts in trying to get access to those DNA databases so a proper study can be done. If defense experts can't access the databases, they can't do their own statistical analysis to show that the prosecution's claimed astronomical improbabilities aren't accurate.

Then there are the flaws in declaring DNA matches when the DNA sample involves a mixture of DNA from more than one person, which, again, is pretty common in DNA cases.

Finally, even a perfect, full, single DNA profile found at a crime scene isn't necessarily probative of guilt. Semen in a rape case is one thing, but I've seen lots of cases involving DNA where the DNA really sheds no light on who committed the crime.

DNA evidence is good stuff, but it most definitely is not irrefutable.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

That's interesting - DNA evidence has been used much more often to free wrongly convicted people, I think.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 4 months ago

What if there is no DNA evidence? Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. I can't abide innocent people being executed in my name.

kansanbygrace 4 years, 4 months ago

About 10 years ago, Missouri killed a man who had scientific forensic evidence to prove his innocence. The SC of that state chose to kill rather than review their process. Post mortem, the evidence was examined and sure enough...wrong guy. The AG of Missouri still defended the action, even after being proved they'd murdered an innocent man and left the criminal on the street. US is about the only "civilized" country that still meticulously premeditates and kills people as revenge for crime. And it sure has no slowdown effect on the gangs in every city, the drug wars, etc. None at all. There are, in fact, several cases where more victims were murdered just to keep from having a witness.

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