*On Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom halted the state’s death penalty system. During his press conference, Newsom ran through several good reasons why he decided to shutter death row.
He stated the system was faulty, expensive and racially biased. People of color are more likely to end up on death row because they can’t hire expensive lawyers to challenge murder cases, he said.
“It’s always better to be rich and guilty, than poor and innocent,” said Newsom.
I’ve been against the death penalty for a long time. I realized that the death penalty is a flawed system which often makes mistakes and executes innocent people. The problems with the death penalty speak of bigger issues in the criminal justice system.
The system is overworked and run by prosecutors who really don’t care if the defendants are innocent or guilty. If your name lands on their desk, they assume you’re guilty and set the wheels in motion. This was brilliantly illustrated in the HBO mini-series “The Night of,” that portrayed the legal travails of a young Muslim man accused of murder.
Prosecutors aren’t bothered about ruining an innocent person life or even killing a man for a crime he didn’t commit. This is why I’m skeptical of former prosecutors, like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) who run for higher office. I always wonder, how many innocent people did they send to their deaths?
And this happens more often than people would like to admit. The Innocence Project, an organization that uses DNA evidence to reexamine old cases, has freed 364 inmates. Eighteen exonerees were on death row. The Innocence Project also stated African Americans make up 63 percent of the exonerees.
Almost every week we hear of a case of an inmate, often a black man, freed from jail after spending decades imprisoned on wrongful charges. These exonerees often receive million-dollar settlements, but you can’t replace 30 years of a lost life.