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Argument: Wrongful executions cannot be corrected, violating due process

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Debate: Death penalty

Supporting quotations

Hugo Adam Bedau. "The Case Against The Death Penalty". American Civil Liberties Union. 1992 - Capital punishment denies due process of law. Its imposition is arbitrary and irrevocable. It forever deprives an individual of benefits of new evidence or new law that might warrant the reversal of a conviction or the setting aside of a death sentence.

Unlike all other criminal punishments, the death penalty is uniquely irrevocable. Speaking to the French Chamber of Deputies in 1830, years after the excesses of the French Revolution, which he had witnessed, the Marquis de Lafayette said, "I shall ask for the abolition of the punishment of death until I have the infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me."(31) Although some proponents of capital punishment would argue that its merits are worth the occasional execution of innocent people, most would also insist that there is little likelihood of the innocent being executed. Yet a large body of evidence shows that innocent people are often convicted of crimes, including capital crimes and that some of them have been executed.


Michael E Reades, M.D. and social commentator. "Best argument against capital punishment". 7 Mar. 2006 - If it is determined that an innocent person has been imprisoned, then that person can be released and compensated in some small measure by the state for his years of incarceration. There is no compensation for the executed, no matter how unjustly they were condemned.


Bedau/ACLU, "The Case Against the Death Penalty". 1992 - Capital punishment denies due process of law. Its imposition is arbitrary and irrevocable. It forever deprives an individual of benefits of new evidence or new law that might warrant the reversal of a conviction or the setting aside of a death sentence."


Benjamin Weiser, NYTimes columnist. "A Legal Quest Against the Death Penalty; Chance of Error Is Too Great, Even for a Murder Victim's Brother". NYTimes. 2 Jan. 2005 - "DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - Judge Jed S Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan discusses novel legal argument against capital punishment which he developed while overseeing death penalty case; interview; his 2002 ruling pointed to increasing number of DNA exonerations and wondered whether death penalty violates due process because executed prisoners cannot pursue claims of innocence."


P. N. Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India. - Death penalty is irrevocable; it cannot be recalled. It is destructive of the right to life. Howsoever careful may be the procedural safeguards erected by the law before the penalty is imposed. it is impossible to eliminate the chance of judicial error. One innocent man being hanged should be enough to wipe out the value of capital punishment for ever.[1]


Albert Einstein p.83, Albert Einstein-The human side, Princeton University Press 1979 - I have reached the conviction that the abolition of the death penalty is desirable. Reasons: 1) Irreparability in the event of an error of justice, 2) Detrimental moral influence of the execution procedure on those who, whether directly or indirectly, have to do with the procedure.[2]


J. Joseph Curran, Attorney General of Maryland, in an official statement, 30 Jan. 2003. - there is one pivotal difference between death in prison and the death penalty. That is the chance to correct a mistake. It is a terrible injustice to wrongfully incarcerate an innocent person. We have just witnessed such an injustice with Bernard Webster, who was recently exonerated from a rape conviction after serving 20 years in prison. But at least we were able to set him free, to correct the mistake. The death penalty allow no such possibility. So let me say it again: Capital punishment comes only at the intolerable risk of killing an innocent person. This is unworthy of us. Therefore, today I call for abolition of the death penalty.[3]

Supporting videos

"Death Penalty - Mistake". Posted on YouTube May 2nd, 2006[4]

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