Thursday, February 25, 2016

Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, corrections officials share concerns about death penalty

Current and former law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and corrections officials from around the country have come together to share their concerns about the administration of the death penalty in America and to help policymakers explore alternatives to it, according to a press release from The Constitution Project.

"Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and corrections officials are some of the people most familiar with the way the death penalty is carried out, yet our voices are not often heard in the discussions about it.  Problems with capital punishment are increasingly on the public's mind, and we want to make sure our unique perspective is heard and considered," said Mark Earley, one of the co-chairs of Public Safety Officials on the Death Penalty

Earley oversaw 36 executions while serving as Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1998 to 2001.  He was president of Prison Fellowship, a prominent national organization dedicated to ministering to prison inmates and their families, from 2002 to 2011.

While each member of the group has their own concerns about the death penalty, most are apprehensive about the prospect of executing an innocent person.

"We have seen firsthand that the criminal justice system, like every other human endeavor, can make mistakes.  Executing even one innocent person is one too many," said Kathleen Dennehy, another of the group's co-chairs.  "And, as career public safety officials and professionals, we know that when the innocent are wrongfully convicted and executed, the guilty go free," she added.

She pointed to a report released earlier in the month by the National Registry of Exonerations showing that a record 149 people were exonerated in the United States in 2015 -- including five from death row.

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