What the study actually shows is that those sentenced to death are more likely to have their convictions overturned than those sentenced to prison.
Yeah, we knew that. Anti-death penalty fanatics fight every execution tooth and claw. Sometimes they get lucky. What the statisticians have proved is that it's very difficult to be executed in this country.
Most of the media cited this pointless study to proclaim that "statistical analysis" proves that 4 percent of people on death row are innocent. They just have to be! And if you disagree, you must hate science.
Whether innocent people have been executed is not a matter than lends itself to statistical analysis. We have the names of every person who has been executed -- 1,373 since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
A few dozen lawyers could each take home a stack of case files for the weekend and find the innocent guy -- if there were one. But despite years of searching by single-minded zealots, they still don't have the name of one innocent person executed since at least 1950.
Identifying the innocent has lead to embarrassments in the past. In this week's and next week's columns, we'll review the left's last few poster boys for "innocence."
First: Troy Davis.
The day of Troy Davis' execution, MSNBC and CNN went live until midnight to cover it, much like the 9/11 terrorist attack. Rachel Maddow posted an article claiming there was "persistent doubt that the death-row inmate is guilty of the crime of which he was convicted," under the headline, "Georgia plans to kill Troy Davis tomorrow."
(This was a delightful change from Rachel's usual nightly smirk fest.)
A reporter for the British Guardian claimed Davis was "very possibly innocent." Amnesty International issued a statement after the execution, announcing that Georgia had "executed a person who may well be innocent." (In the same sense that I "may well be" an astronaut named Smitty.)
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