Death Penalties and Prosecutors

Don Surber reminds us how we all learned that it was “better to let 100 guilty men go free rather than hang one innocent man”. But did the FBI? [Free registration required.]

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Network said they were creating a task force of lawyers in response to a joint investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes.” That investigation, published yesterday and today, found that the FBI has not taken steps to alert hundreds of defendants that they may have been convicted through the use of comparative bullet-lead analysis, a forensic tool that was discarded two years ago.

The NY Times, of all places points to a study that attempts to pinpoint the deterrent effect of the death penalty:

According to roughly a dozen recent studies, executions save lives. For each inmate put to death, the studies say, 3 to 18 murders are prevented.

The effect is most pronounced, according to some studies, in Texas and other states that execute condemned inmates relatively often and relatively quickly.

But what about the one innocent man?

For a dozen years, Kulbicki sat in state prison, saddled with the image of the calculating killer portrayed in the 1996 made-for-TV movie “Double Jeopardy.”

Then the scientific evidence unraveled.

Earlier this year, the state expert committed suicide, leaving a trail of false credentials, inaccurate testimony and lab notes that conflicted with what he had told jurors. Two years before, the FBI crime lab had discarded the bullet-matching science that it had used to link Kulbicki to the crime.

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