Letter to the Editor, The Chronicle

November 28, 2011

Applaud Oregon's Governor John Kitzhaber

I would like to applaud Oregon's Governor John Kitzhaber for his recent announcement halting all executions in the State of Oregon based on his conclusion that the “death penalty is morally wrong and unjustly administered”. I would encourage our own Governor to take the same moral decision regarding the eight people currently on death row who are waiting for the State of Washington to kill them.
The vast majority of countries in the world have, for many reasons, reached the conclusion that State sponsored killing is no more justified than individual killings. Clearly if you are poor, you are more likely to end up on death row. In 2001, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated: “People who are well represented at trial do not get the death penalty....I have yet to see a death case among the dozens coming to the Supreme Court on eve-of-execution stay applications in which the defendant was well represented at trial”.

According to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, here in Washington State, one out of five of the 84 people who have faced execution over the past two decades were represented by lawyers who have been, or were later, disbarred, suspended, or arrested. In our state, the usual disbarment rate for lawyers is less than one percent.

Race is another clear indicator of the likelihood of receiving the death penalty. A report from the Government Accounting Office concluded that “in 82 percent of the studies reviewed, race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e. those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks”.
Because the Constitution requires a long and complex judicial process in capital cases, it is much less expensive to imprison someone for life rather than to attempt to execute them. Then there is the issue of innocent people who find themselves on death row. Some of the reasons, besides incompetent counsel, that people are wrongly convicted are false or coerced confessions, mistaken eye-witness reports, jailhouse snitches seeking to curry favor, unsound scientific theories, and prosecutorial abuse.

Since 1973, 138 death row prisoners have been release because they were innocent. Additionally, at least ten people people, including just recently, Troy Davis in Georgia, have been executed when there is evidence of their innocence.
How many more innocents have unknowingly been killed by the State? Historical records show that at least 15,269 Americans have been killed by the State through the judicial system since colonial times. When will the United States join the rest of the world and recognize that the death penalty is a gross violation of human rights and a clear abuse of State power? Governor Gregoire should publicly state that the citizens of Washington State recognize that, like Oregon, we have “an expensive and unworkable system that fails to meet the barest standards of justice”.

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Larry Kerschner 3681 Cooks Hill Road Centralia WA 98531 360-880-4741

What is published in the most prestigious medical journals is no longer careful science, but essentially drug advertisements. The information brought to and taught to the medical profession is shaped by its commercial value to the drug companies, and the fundamental purpose is to improve corporate profits. - Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

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