A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
July 10th, 2011
By Tom Carter
There’s all kinds of talk in the media and among people in general about the Casey Anthony case. Mostly, there’s anger about the fact that she was acquitted on the charges of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter. The most outraged are the TV talking heads, many of them lawyers who should have known better, who spent months waxing astute on the fact that she was clearly guilty and would get the death penalty.
The fact is, the system worked like it’s supposed to. The only people who counted were the 12 jurors, and they decided that she wasn’t guilty by the standards of the law. But did she, in fact, kill her daughter? No one knows, and it isn’t likely that anyone will ever know. If that doesn’t cause us to pause and think about the death penalty in general terms, then nothing ever will.
Visualize another outcome. Based on the same evidence, they jury could have found her guilty of first degree murder, and she could have been sentenced to death. In that scenario, one central question would remain — did she really kill her own child? And once again, no one would know for sure. Would that make any difference for those who support the death penalty? Sadly, the answer is that it probably would not.
I’ve made it very clear here, here, here and elsewhere that I’m unalterably opposed to the death penalty. I’ve given three reasons, any one of which is sufficient to make us stop killing our fellow citizens who have been judged to be guilty of certain crimes:
So is Casey Anthony, now acquitted of first degree murder in a court of law, guilty of killing her daughter? We don’t know. If she had been found guilty and was now sitting on death row, we still wouldn’t know. That we permit ourselves to be in that position is unconscionable.
I’ve quoted Sister Helen Prejean before, and I’ll do it again here:
Government … can’t be trusted to control its own bureaucrats or collect taxes equitably or fill a pothole, much less decide which of its citizens to kill.
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