COMMENTARY: "Execution means final" by Columnist Mike Masterson, published by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on April 1, 2017.
GIST: "Eight death row inmates, some of whom insist they are innocent, are trying to convince state officials and federal courts that they don't deserve to be lethally injected this month. As of my deadline this week, their efforts had fallen short, and their executions, two at a time, remained set for between April 17 and 27. Readers should understand I have absolutely nothing against a murderer rightfully sentenced to death being executed for their crimes. Like every human, the guilty made a choice and must be willing to face the consequences. For some, execution seems a much too easy way out for all the grief and pain they caused their grieving victims, families and friends. My only difficulty with putting them to death lies in the fact that in our nation we have executed convicts who later were shown to be innocent.........I know from personal experience that serious flaws in the justice system are far more common than most realize. As a news reporter, the Arkansas victims whose cases I investigated were Ronald Carden, James Dean Walker and Shelby Barron, each incarcerated for heinous crimes such as murder and rape. In Walker's case, he was wrongly convicted twice and came within six days of the electric chair before a second trial where his death sentence was reduced to life behind bars. He was ultimately freed in a deal with the prosecutor after material facts strongly indicating his innocence were revealed 20 years after his convictions. Those revelations prompted the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to order a third trial, which never occurred. Barron, a black father of two from Hot Springs, had been wrongly indicted on rape charges by a Texas grand jury and was finally freed from jail by discovered facts that proved his innocence and led a recalcitrant Texas prosecutor to finally drop all charges and admit his error. Carden, a father from Bigelow, had been wrongly convicted of murder and was awaiting his sentence when material facts were discovered that proved his innocence and set him free. My point: If I've been professionally involved with innocent people behind bars on three occasions in Arkansas, I can only imagine how many there must be not only imprisoned, but who have been executed across America for crimes they didn't commit. (One I believe falls squarely into this category today is Belynda Goff, a grandmother from Green Forest, now in her 22nd year of a life-without-parole sentence for the murder of her husband). Research shows no one knows just how many innocents have been executed. In 2014, the National Academy of Sciences reported as many as one in 25 death-sentenced inmates likely are innocent. Using sophisticated analyses, the authors of the academy paper told Newsweek they believe 4.1 percent (one in 25) is actually the lower end of the wrongful conviction rate for death sentences. Even all the attention given those on death row can't possibly catch every wrongful conviction. Many death row inmates also have their sentences reduced. So, as Elizabeth Lopatto wrote about the same study for Forbes Magazine, the full number of innocent death row inmates who've been executed remains unknowable. "The more difficult question is how many innocent people have been put to death in the U.S." since 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court revised laws on capital punishment, she wrote. "The data doesn't answer that question directly, but it does provide hints. If the same rate of people on death row as those put to death are innocent, then 4 percent of the people who have died in the last 35 years were innocent. That's about 50 people." But that number likely is too high, the study's authors wrote, because their data and the "experience of practitioners in the field indicate that the criminal justice system goes to far greater lengths to avoid executing innocent defendants than to prevent them from remaining in prison indefinitely." But given the 4 percent error rate and our imperfect justice system, "it is all but certain that several of the 1,320 defendants executed since 1977 were innocent."
The Listverse website in 2010 published a story listing 10 executed inmates who afterwards were presumed innocent. Their individual stories were compelling, to say the least."
The entire story can be found at:
Sign petition aimed at stopping the 8 executions in 10 days - based on the unreliable drug the State of Arkansas is planning to use, at the link below: "Governor Asa Hutchinson is racing to use up the supply of a controversial execution drug, Midazolam, because it expires at the end of April. Midazolam is known for causing botched executions, which is why states are rejecting it. Florida and Arizona have stopped using it, and an Ohio judge recently halted Midazolam executions in that state".
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/