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Argument: DNA testing increases assurances of guilt; basis for executions

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Supporting quotations

Thomas R. Eddlem. "Ten anti-death penalty fallacies". The New American. June 3, 2002 - FALLACY #4: DNA Evidence

"Since the US. Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that capital punishment is not 'cruel and unusual,' 618 prisoners have been executed across the nation and about 80 have been exonerated.... Those disturbing odds beg the question: If the chances of executing an innocent person are so high, should we have capital punishment?" (ABCNews.com, March 6, 2000)

Correction: While most of those released from death row have been released for political purposes or for technical reasons unrelated to guilt, it is true that a small number have been released because DNA evidence has proven innocence.

But even though ABC may not agree, its news story reinforces why the release of those on death row argues for, not against, the death penalty: "Widespread use of DNA testing and established standards for defense lawyers will virtually eliminate the argument that the death penalty cannot be fairly applied." If DNA evidence can really prove innocence, it can prove guilt as well, and society can be all the more certain that criminals sentenced to death will be guilty. The system as a whole is already working well. Since reinstituting the death penalty in 1976, not one person executed in the United States has been later proven innocent as a result of DNA evidence.


Peter Bronson. "Death Penalty Guards What is Valued Most". International Herald Tribune. 8 Mar. 2001 - DNA testing has also been a dud for death penalty opponents. It is not springing open dozens of cell doors on death row, because DNA tests are far more likely to confirm guilt than show that exhaustive appeals have still convicted the wrong person. Nonetheless, many states are adopting DNA testing to eliminate even the remote chance of a wrongful execution.

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