Death penalty for the innocent: a miscarriage of justice

In accordance with the laws of the state of Arizona, the defendant has been sentenced to death.

No appeals are available, as all avenues of appeal were previously pursued and the verdict confirmed by the Supreme Court of the U.S. The sentence will be carried out.

While several mitigating factors were present, none were even considered to lessen the imposed sentence. Some factors that may have led to life include an absent father who never accepted the defendant as his own, a mother so afraid of parenting or so driven by her own goals that she failed to ever engage the defendant in a nurturing, loving relationship and a society so scared to take a risk on the future of the defendant that they failed to intervene.

The defendant’s future might have been bright. They may have discovered a cure for cancer, written the next great symphony or become a loving, nurturing parent, despite their family history. Unfortunately, we will never know what benefits the defendant might have shared with the same society that allowed them to die.

The finality of death seems so severe in light of the fact that the defendant never took another life nor did anything else that should make the public concerned for their own safety. Evidence present in this case would show that the defendant is no more likely to commit a crime against humanity than you or I.

It could even be said that putting the defendant to death is merely for convenience. Life would require a financial investment of food, clothing and housing for years into the future. A dead defendant cannot add to the overpopulation of our already burdened system. A dead defendant cannot commit crimes.

If only appeals were available, this defendant could easily claim inadequate council and make a strong argument that they were never given due process. The defendant was never able to face their accuser nor were they able to present any evidence on their own behalf. Yet it seems the evidence presented against them was enough to seal their fate.

The death penalty has been abolished in over 100 countries and yet, the majority of U.S. states still continue this cruel and unusual practice. The U.S., the “big brother to all” and the “moral compass of the world,” is setting a precedent. And that precedent condemns the defendant to death. It allows for no future mitigation of the sentence, no future mercy or compassionate release from this punishment: Absolutely no recourse at all.

Worst of all, the defendant is an unborn child.

An unborn child who was not innocent until proven guilty, was not given due process as required by law and was not given a chance to prove the decision makers wrong.

Why is it that 30 percent of the states in the U.S. do not employ the death penalty, yet every state allows the death penalty for those who have not committed any crime but that of inconvenience? Thanks to our legal system hearing the petitions of those who can speak and are able to make them, millions of women are able to end the life of those who will never be able to use that wonderful justice system in their favor.

Isn’t that some kind of sick irony?

Reach the columnist at hkmills@asu.edu or follow her at @haleykmills

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