Finality v. Fairness

Henry “Hank” Skinner is scheduled for execution in Texas on February 24.  A two-part review of the case was recently published by the Texas Tribune.  He is asking for DNA testing of evidence that was found at the crime scene but never tested.  He claims these tests would establish that someone else committed the crime for which he is slated to be put to death.  The state, of course, is opposing the tests. 

But, why?  The cost of allowing the testing would be a few extra months for a man who has already been on death row for almost 15 years.  The benefit would be guaranteeing that the state does not execute someone who is actually innocent.   Don’t the benefits outweigh the costs in this case?  Is it even close?

Sadly, this is the classic “Finality v. Fairness” battle that death penalty cases so often come down to.  And the importance of “finality” has been inflated out of all proportion.  While “finality” is necessary to ensure that justice is done, the state is also charged with ensuring “fairness” (and accuracy) in its pursuit of that justice.

(It should be noted that long prison sentences usually provide far more real “finality” than death sentences, which are frequently overturned, sometimes re-instated, and mostly never carried out.)

Yet too often in death penalty cases the state (and the courts) seem to care only about “finality”.  Appeals with valid claims are rejected on technical grounds, and reasonable requests to test new evidence are aggressively resisted.  Even proof of actual innocence is no bar to the “finality” of an execution (though, depending on how the Troy Davis case turns out, that may change).  The result of all this, inevitably, is the execution, or near-execution, of the innocent and the undeserving.  The state of Texas should balance its enthusiasm for finality with a genuine commitment to fairness, and let all the evidence in Hank Skinner’s case be tested.

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16 thoughts on “Finality v. Fairness

  1. Texas is going too far in putting someone with a strong case of innocence to death the way they killed Cameron Todd Willingham for a probably non-existent arson that killed his three daughters. I feel sad for Hank Skinner and his family and the family of his girlfriend and her children and will pray for them. But now Virginia has passed the death penalty expansion bills that would soon be equal to Texas' so-called "law of parties", which makes those who do not pull the trigger and killers of EMS personnel, fire marshals and auxiliary police officers eligible for execution! Here's the link:
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/Va_-House

    With Virginia becoming another Texas, it's now not safe anymore to be in Virginia! These so-called laws, who are claimed to "make things better by executing murderers", only makes things worse because of this. With Virginia still ignoring flaws in its death penalty system like costly appeals, botched-up executions and innocent people being executed, that risk has only increased all the more, making all of us sinners as good as dead! Virginia itself is turning into Sweeney Todd in explaining that no matter how good or bad we are, we all deserve to be executed and to go to hell! :cry:

  2. Texas is going too far in putting someone with a strong case of innocence to death the way they killed Cameron Todd Willingham for a probably non-existent arson that killed his three daughters. I feel sad for Hank Skinner and his family and the family of his girlfriend and her children and will pray for them. But now Virginia has passed the death penalty expansion bills that would soon be equal to Texas' so-called "law of parties", which makes those who do not pull the trigger and killers of EMS personnel, fire marshals and auxiliary police officers eligible for execution! Here's the link:
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/Va_-House

    With Virginia becoming another Texas, it's now not safe anymore to be in Virginia! These so-called laws, who are claimed to "make things better by executing murderers", only makes things worse because of this. With Virginia still ignoring flaws in its death penalty system like costly appeals, botched-up executions and innocent people being executed, that risk has only increased all the more, making all of us sinners as good as dead! Virginia itself is turning into Sweeney Todd in explaining that no matter how good or bad we are, we all deserve to be executed and to go to hell! :cry:

  3. Texas is going too far in putting someone with a strong case of innocence to death the way they killed Cameron Todd Willingham for a probably non-existent arson that killed his three daughters. I feel sad for Hank Skinner and his family and the family of his girlfriend and her children and will pray for them. But now Virginia has passed the death penalty expansion bills that would soon be equal to Texas' so-called "law of parties", which makes those who do not pull the trigger and killers of EMS personnel, fire marshals and auxiliary police officers eligible for execution! Here's the link:
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/Va_-House

    With Virginia becoming another Texas, it's now not safe anymore to be in Virginia! These so-called laws, who are claimed to "make things better by executing murderers", only makes things worse because of this. With Virginia still ignoring flaws in its death penalty system like costly appeals, botched-up executions and innocent people being executed, that risk has only increased all the more, making all of us sinners as good as dead! Virginia itself is turning into Sweeney Todd in explaining that no matter how good or bad we are, we all deserve to be executed and to go to hell! :cry:

  4. Texas is going too far in putting someone with a strong case of innocence to death the way they killed Cameron Todd Willingham for a probably non-existent arson that killed his three daughters. I feel sad for Hank Skinner and his family and the family of his girlfriend and her children and will pray for them. But now Virginia has passed the death penalty expansion bills that would soon be equal to Texas’ so-called “law of parties”, which makes those who do not pull the trigger and killers of EMS personnel, fire marshals and auxiliary police officers eligible for execution! Here’s the link:

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/Va_-House-passes-death-penalty-expansion-83462662.html

    With Virginia becoming another Texas, it’s now not safe anymore to be in Virginia! These so-called laws, who are claimed to “make things better by executing murderers”, only makes things worse because of this. With Virginia still ignoring flaws in its death penalty system like costly appeals, botched-up executions and innocent people being executed, that risk has only increased all the more, making all of us sinners as good as dead! Virginia itself is turning into Sweeney Todd in explaining that no matter how good or bad we are, we all deserve to be executed and to go to hell! :cry:

  5. Texas is heading in a bad direction. Several defendants have already been proven innocent when their cases were reviewed again after trial. Don't they want to at least be certain they're punishing the right people?

  6. Texas is heading in a bad direction. Several defendants have already been proven innocent when their cases were reviewed again after trial. Don’t they want to at least be certain they’re punishing the right people?

  7. It would tantamount to judicial murder and murder of justice in the name of justice.

  8. All public officials should be required to pass a psychological test! When mad men get in positions of power things get out of control. Religion does bad things to peoples' minds. It twists their judgment and warps their ethics.

  9. All public officials should be required to pass a psychological test! When mad men get in positions of power things get out of control. Religion does bad things to peoples’ minds. It twists their judgment and warps their ethics.

  10. um Throwing out all death penalty is not justice either…if any person takes another person's life – his life is required. Now our collective part is to make sure the person is guilty AND has a fair trial. Frankly the appeals processes are time consuming, resource consuming, and ridiculous. I would dispense with "serving time" and move for speedy execution, preferably by bullet. The victim never had a say in how they wanted to die and you all forget their story.

  11. How dare you say that, KCashatt?! You never care about human rights or about innocent people being executed! You're saying you value a murder victim's life and justice more than the life of an innocent like Hank Skinner, whom you lash out and claim to be "a monster who deserves to go to hell for his horrible crime"?! You are really down a spiral path of revenge that you claim is justice and salute Texas and Gov. Perry for denying death row inmates clemency and justice! You're just like the Westboro Baptist Church in saying "God hates killers and murderers and death row inmates!" and "Thank God for executed murderers and monsters!" and "Through the fires of hell justice is served!" You only care more about the murder victims but you never care about human rights at all! :evil:

  12. um Throwing out all death penalty is not justice either…if any person takes another person’s life – his life is required. Now our collective part is to make sure the person is guilty AND has a fair trial. Frankly the appeals processes are time consuming, resource consuming, and ridiculous. I would dispense with “serving time” and move for speedy execution, preferably by bullet. The victim never had a say in how they wanted to die and you all forget their story.

  13. How dare you say that, KCashatt?! You never care about human rights or about innocent people being executed! You’re saying you value a murder victim’s life and justice more than the life of an innocent like Hank Skinner, whom you lash out and claim to be “a monster who deserves to go to hell for his horrible crime”?! You are really down a spiral path of revenge that you claim is justice and salute Texas and Gov. Perry for denying death row inmates clemency and justice! You’re just like the Westboro Baptist Church in saying “God hates killers and murderers and death row inmates!” and “Thank God for executed murderers and monsters!” and “Through the fires of hell justice is served!” You only care more about the murder victims but you never care about human rights at all! :evil:

  14. KCashatt's stance toward other people is quite similar to that of those murderers that s/he is so prompt to condemn and have judicially assassinated, regardless of the fact that they may have been framed by unethical prosecutors or betrayed by forensic malpractice (remember Joyce Gilchrist?). Innocence? Well, who cares about actual innocence when "a life is required"? This is disturbing. No life is ever "required", if not by the darkest, most primitive sides of mankind in parodies of "justice" and twisted religious ploys. Which no one should let their inner light give in to, but that takes some more serious thinking than swallowing the obnoxious death penalty brainwash as the word of Gospel. God might not like it that much by the way — while Satan's rubbing his hands in glee at the idea. Better prepare a better explanation than "Ah but it so convenient and comfortable to be able designate and sacrifice suspect scapegoats every now and then, so we do not need to question our ways, right? Surely turning the other cheek was just a joke, right?" Well, sometimes I am not far from thinking that death penalty proponents might unwittingly be a few steps closer to one day actually committing murder themselves, much more so than death penalty opponents could possibly be. Willing to kill in the name of a conveniently set up "justice" system, or for the sake of satisfying their own basal revenge instincts, they scare the hell out of me, and this to the same extent as facing an armed psychopath alone in the dark would. Think, they're an army, they're everywhere, and in everyday life they probably behave so nice and friendly. Many have smiled at you, and some even pretend to be your friends; however they're willing to kill, and they are willing to kill you if the flawed "justice" system they worship designates you as the next scapegoat, no matter what you really did or not. They do not care about you or victims or innocent people. They are weak and ruled by their darker side. They are part of the violence, and they are part of the nightmare… Plain terrifying.

  15. KCashatt’s stance toward other people is quite similar to that of those murderers that s/he is so prompt to condemn and have judicially assassinated, regardless of the fact that they may have been framed by unethical prosecutors or betrayed by forensic malpractice (remember Joyce Gilchrist?). Innocence? Well, who cares about actual innocence when “a life is required”? This is disturbing. No life is ever “required”, if not by the darkest, most primitive sides of mankind in parodies of “justice” and twisted religious ploys. Which no one should let their inner light give in to, but that takes some more serious thinking than swallowing the obnoxious death penalty brainwash as the word of Gospel. God might not like it that much by the way — while Satan’s rubbing his hands in glee at the idea. Better prepare a better explanation than “Ah but it so convenient and comfortable to be able designate and sacrifice suspect scapegoats every now and then, so we do not need to question our ways, right? Surely turning the other cheek was just a joke, right?” Well, sometimes I am not far from thinking that death penalty proponents might unwittingly be a few steps closer to one day actually committing murder themselves, much more so than death penalty opponents could possibly be. Willing to kill in the name of a conveniently set up “justice” system, or for the sake of satisfying their own basal revenge instincts, they scare the hell out of me, and this to the same extent as facing an armed psychopath alone in the dark would. Think, they’re an army, they’re everywhere, and in everyday life they probably behave so nice and friendly. Many have smiled at you, and some even pretend to be your friends; however they’re willing to kill, and they are willing to kill you if the flawed “justice” system they worship designates you as the next scapegoat, no matter what you really did or not. They do not care about you or victims or innocent people. They are weak and ruled by their darker side. They are part of the violence, and they are part of the nightmare… Plain terrifying.