To the editor:
Almost weekly we learn of yet another person who has had a criminal conviction set aside after having served many years in prison. A good number of these people have been on death row awaiting execution for a crime they did not commit. Think of it.
But for the advances in the science of DNA and the persistence of organizations like the Innocence Project, many of these people would have been put to death. Given these facts, the question is how many innocent people do you suppose have been hanged, gassed, shot or otherwise executed in the past?
And now we are in the midst of a sometimes contentious debate in many states as to which of these various methods of killing someone is the more “humane.” Within the past year we have seen several executions go awry because the chemicals used have prolonged the process of dying instead of bringing a swift result, to the extent that the manufacturers of the drugs are refusing to supply them to any state using them for executions. The state of Utah has just recently decided that if they can’t obtain the necessary ingredients, they will simply turn the condemned over to a firing squad.
Ironically, New Hampshire, who has one inmate on death row, has no present means of carrying out an execution. Our electric chair is gone. We no longer have a hangman. Under the present state of the law, N.H. would have to pay for services of an executioner, more likely than not at some location outside the state.
That brings us to another consideration; the cost. Thanks to Kelly Ayotte, who, while attorney general, refused to accept a plea that would have resulted in life without parole, the cost to the taxpayers in the Michael Addison case — for prosecution, defense, witness, jury and court time, and appeals — is in the neighborhood of $5 million, money that is badly needed to pay for our schools, mental-health programs and other necessary state services.
The massive expense of the marathon bombing trial is the result of the government’s insistence that the death penalty is the only fair outcome. Making such a demand guarantees that there will be a trial and years of appeals involving not only money but the diversion of prosecution and court resources from other pressing needs.
Is there some solution to these issues? Those issues are: the real possibility of executing innocent people; the dispute over how we go about killing them and the enormous cost, financially and emotionally of a protracted death penalty proceeding?
It all seems relatively simple. Do away with the death penalty.