The exonerations of 200 innocent people have raised alarming questions nationwide about our criminal justice system. Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann says the state may need to reconsider its death penalty. The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote in an editorial that DNA exonerations have led to serious questions about whether executions should continue in Ohio and elsewhere.
A society that imposes capital punishment – a sentence this editorial board has long opposed – must always ask: What if this person is innocent? Could there be a greater miscarriage of justice than the state taking a life in error?
Those questions seem especially relevant now. Last month, an Illinois judge wiped out the conviction of Jerry Miller, an Army veteran who spent 25 years behind bars for a rape that new DNA evidence proved he did not commit. Miller's was the 200th conviction overturned using DNA since 1989, according to the Innocence Project. Those exonerations come from 31 states. Six were in Ohio. Fourteen of them rescued men from death rows. A quarter overturned cases in which the defendant had confessed. Sixty percent of the wrongly convicted defendants were black, like Miller, or Latino.
Read the full editorial here
. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/6/07)