Former Police Commissioner Says System Too Faulty for Death Penalty
Citing recent death row exonerations and what he called the “enormous pressure” on law enforcement to quickly solve criminal cases, former Pennsylvania Police Commissioner Terence Inch expressed his opposition to the death penalty in an op-ed in the
“Mistakes happen too often, as evidenced by the fact that 150 men and women in the United States have been convicted and sent to death row – only to be released when conclusive evidence of their wrongful conviction emerged,” Inch wrote. “These cases involved all sorts of error, everything from mistaken eyewitnesses and junk science to false confessions. Six of those cases are from Pennsylvania.”
Since biological evidence is only found in five to 10 percent of murder cases, Inch wrote, guilt can rarely be known for certain. In light of that, he said, such an irreversible punishment should not be employed.
Inch also notes that the cost of maintaining a system of capital punishment is exorbitant and that the over $350 million spent on Pennsylvania’s system could have been better invested in measures that would ensure public safety such as improving crime labs, solving unsolved rapes and murders and increasing access to mental health, drug and alcohol treatment.
Inch lauded Governor Tom Wolf’s February suspension of executions in the state until a task force examining the system issues its final report.
“Don’t misunderstand me,” he wrote. “I want the guilty to be convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. I just don’t want anyone, particularly the innocent, to suffer death in my name or under a flawed system.”
Read the op-ed
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