Hill's case is not only an example of the present-day problems with the death penalty. It also raises specters of executions-past, and gives an indication of the bleak future of the death penalty in the U.S.
Republicans in North Carolina are flexing their newfound political muscle in the legislature, and the results are bad news for 152 residents of the state's death row. In the process, the lawmakers turned their back on a unique effort by the state to overcome its tarnished history of racism.
A Georgia inmate named Warren Hill, who came within forty minutes of a lethal injection in February, is in legal limbo this week. His case represents a "perfect storm" of the seemingly insurmountable problems that beset courts and state legislatures in applying the death penalty.
In 1999, a French journalist made a bold prediction to me. "Your country will abolish capital punishment in the next 25 years." I thought of our conversation on Friday when I learned that Maryland will ban capital punishment.
The legal paradoxes in our patchwork system of capital punishment go way beyond precedent and procedure. They can be found even on a label. Remember that supply of pentobarbital and the argument over prescriptions?
I was locked up more than 20 years ago for a murder I did not commit and last year, I was finally able to prove my innocence and was released. Replacing the death penalty is the only way we can guarantee that we will never make a fatal mistake in California.
When I was just 16 years old, I was stripped of my freedom, wrongfully convicted of a murder I did not commit. I spent twenty years behind bars before I was finally able to prove my innocence. If I had been sentenced to death, would I have been able to prove my innocence in time?
At bottom, the primary cause for false convictions is the questionable quality of the evidence habitually used in criminal prosecutions. Poor evidence can be produced even when all actors follow procedures diligently and conscientiously.
Faced with unassailable evidence that the death penalty in California costs hundreds of millions of dollars per year, supporters tend to respond with what is intended to be a conversation stopper: "You can't put a price tag on justice."