Discussions of justice tend to be very intellectual and high-minded. We think of it as one of the most important functions of The State.
However, famous civil rights attorney and law professor Avery Friedman, in commenting on the unexpected acquittal of Caylee Anthony for murdering her daughter, explained the decision by saying "Of course, another jury might have convicted her."
While it may seem obvious, I was floored. I actually hadn't really thought much about that before. Doesn't that comment by Prof. Friedman really mean that there really can be no such thing as justice? For if justice can't be counted on to be flawlessly consistent, is it justice at all or is it just a form of chance?
So, in other words, no reason to trust the justice system.
I think the Innocence Project and others have relatively conclusively demonstrated that the error rate is much higher than 1%, at least in capital murder cases. That's in the U.S., with a relatively robust justice system with lots of rights for the accused, unanimous jury verdict requirements, and multiple appeals.
If Illinois is typical, perhaps half of all death penalty convictions are wrongful.
In a move that commanded worldwide attention, on January 31, 2000, Illinois Governor George Ryan declared a moratorium on further executions in Illinois pending "the opportunity to review the recommendations of a commission that I will establish."
Stating that the Illinois death penalty system is "fraught with errors," Governor Ryan acknowledged that the release of 13 death row inmates based on findings of innocence had encouraged him to impose the moratorium. "We have now freed more people than we have put to death under our system -- 13 people have been exonerated and 12 have been put to death. There is a flaw in the system, without question, and it needs to be studied...I will not approve any more executions in this state until I have the opportunity to review the recommendations of the commission that I will establish," Ryan told Chicago reporters. "I will ask this commission to initiate a review of the death penalty in Illinois," he added. (source)
Now, if this is the result of a process that can result in the death of the accused, what about cases that aren't nearly so serious?
Me? I'll do my best to stay away from a legal system that does such a bad job on its most serious cases, and I have to wonder if the system has anything to do with justice at all. In Illinois, when it came to death penalty cases, their success rate was almost exactly the same as a coin toss.
Personally i am not too enamored with the American idea of a jury of your peers. The average joe is usually someone who has no real clue what critical thinking is. They probably don't even realize they have any major biases let alone what they are and to top it all off it islikely that nearly their entire concept of how the justice system works comes from TV programes like CSI and law and order.
To put it bluntly it is most likely that atleast 50% of the jury deciding on your trial are the unfortunate combination of being of below average intelligence while still thinking they are above average in inteligence.
watch what Neil Degrasse Tyson says about jury duty when he was called for it.
A jury of "peers" consists of a bunch of people who either couldn't get out of it or just have a lot of time on their hands. Actually, a smart person might request try to get tried by a judge rather than a jury. However, that, .too, raises questions of competence and politics.
Which is worse for the innocent man:
A. To be executed.
B. To be imprisoned for the rest of his life.
Well, one of the arguments against capital punishment that one hears over and over ad nauseam is that "It's a worse punishment for the killer to live out his life than to be executed."
What do you think? Are they wrong?
Well i am relatively certain that if they where giving the choice between life in prison and death most will choose prison.so atleast from their subjective opinion execution will most often be worse.
But then i also do not agree with capital punishment in most situations. For a time in our past capital punishment made sense, when a person was a clear danger to society and we did not have the resources to keep them locked up for life. While now days it is often far more a drain on society to try pass a death sentance for someones crimes. So my view is we should lock them away from society butmake sure they are as safe and comfortable as reasonably possible, as even if they are simply nothing more than an evil monster it does not mean we have to sink down to their level. Commiting evil in the name of justice does not make it one iota less evil
We don't need to "sink down to their level" because their level was taking a life unjustly and without due process.
Just because something is lawful within a justice system and happens with due process does not mean it is right. When a woman in Iraq or saudi arabia is sentenced by their justice system and laws to execution for apostasy , after due process ,do you think that makes it ok?