Alec Baldwin – one of the many stars who spoke out against last week’s execution of Troy Davis – has written a scathing piece in the Huffington Post about the death penalty.
“All human beings are capable of the darkest and most hate-fueled emotions,” he wrote. "And sometimes, it feels good. It feels right. Here in New York, to follow the home invasion/murder trial of the Petit family in Cheshire, Connecticut, is to make one pine for a day when the death penalty could be rightfully applied. To hear the testimony, to learn of what happened to this mother and her two young children, is to die a little inside. To read of the smug demeanor of Joshua Komisarjevsky, the defendant currently on trial, and of his Manson manque posturing and utter humanistic bankruptcy is to make one want to throw the switch on this guy personally. And with the deepest sense of satisfaction and clearest of consciences.
“But for every Joshua Komisarjevsky, there were a number of men who sat on death row, poised to die by the hands of the state (that’s you and me) who were freed by groups like the Innocence Project. According to the Innocence Project website, DNA testing exonerated defendants in nearly equal proportion to the confirmation of prosecution results: 43% vs 42%. As the result, innocent men are assumed to have avoided the ultimate penalty.
“Supporters of the death penalty often seem to me like the opposite side of a coin. Where they contend that death penalty opponents are soft on crime and coddle the murderers of police officers, their opposites see them as those supporting a system that they largely have faith in, yet if a few innocent convicts get put to death?… well… nothing’s perfect. I’ll make a deal with you. You don’t imply that I’m indifferent to the murder of a police officer and I won’t imply that you’re willing to kill innocent men by way of a racially tainted legal system.
“Besides, it’s justice we’re after. So, if you take away the death penalty, there’s justice all around. Because life in prison without parole is the worst possible sentence. Have you ever visited a prison? Ever been escorted around and spoken to inmates about what goes on there? How they feel? I have.
“The death penalty costs us a lot of money. (Everyone involved with the issue knows the statistics and dollar figures.) The death penalty costs us more money that it costs to house an inmate for life. We don’t want to kill innocent people. And we don’t need to kill the guilty ones either.
“Prison itself is the death penalty. In the slowest of slow motion.”
Read the full post here.