Chat: Dallas Morning News Editorial page editor Keven Ann Willey will answer questions about the editorial board’s stance new stance opposing the death penalty at 2 p.m. today.
Send early questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to DallasNews.com to participate.
The DMN published two more articles today in their series against the death penalty.
In Texas, the inevitability of a wrongful conviction evokes the image of an innocent person being rolled into a hearse. It’s an image that’s hard to erase, once the idea gets startedtakes hold.
No Texan should have to be haunted by that image, but lives are extinguished in Huntsville in all our names. State leaders have a responsibility to fearlessly confront the inevitability of a fatal mistake in our criminal justice system.
Justice demands a punishment that is fair yet revocable, one that provides a sense of finality while allowing for the fallibility of the system.
Life without parole meets that bar.
It’s harsh. It’s just. And it’s final without being irreversible.
Call it a living death.
Thanks to a recent change in law, Texas juries now have the option of imposing life without parole in lieu of the death penalty.
Across the country, public sentiment has begun to shift as legislatures have given juries this option.
Last year, for the first time, Gallup Poll respondents favored life in prison without parole over the death penalty, if given the option.
DNA exonerations have raised the specter of executing an innocent man. Questions about lethal injection methodology and mounting evidence exposing the arbitrary application of the death penalty also have helped bolster support for life without parole.
Locking away murderers for life would save states millions of dollars on costly death penalty appeals. And there is growing support for life without parole and putting convicts to work to pay restitution to their victims’ families.
Death does not provide an added level of justice. A prison sentence that does not allow for the possibility of parole accomplishes the same objectives: protecting society from violent criminals and ensuring that every day of a murderer’s life is a miserable existence.
Our standards of punishment have evolved over time, from the gallows to firing squads, from the electric chair to lethal injection. Life without parole, essentially death by prison, should be the new standard.