Eloquent piece by Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve concerning the death penalty in the USA
Stafford Smith has represented many individuals on death row in the USA so his experience of a dysfunctional and unfair system is considerable. Many more black people are convicted than white people. There is no obligation on the police to make exculpatory evidence available. Prisoners spend decades on death row going through seemingly endless appeals. One case – Kris Maharaj – which we have highlighted on this site, is a case of miscarriage gone badly wrong. Despite copious evidence that he had nothing to do with the murder, he still languishes in prison in Florida. New evidence cannot be introduced at the appeal stage. The level of mistakes is high at around 10% and one of the problems with executions is that they cannot be put right.
Judges may have little criminal experience. Defendants are usually poor and cannot afford experienced or capable lawyers.
This account is of the USA but we should remember that the system is much worse in some other countries of the world: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran for example and that thousands are executed in China where details are a state secret.
Source: Al Jazeera
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