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  #251  
Old 01-24-2020, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
LWOP is still reversible if new evidence comes out. We can't fix the mistake if we kill them.
But as I said, there is not new evidence in most cases even we someone protests their innocence. No DNA out there; nothing. Zero chance of reversing the conviction.

So under this logic, and since there could at least be one innocent person wrongfully incarcerated, we should eliminate incarceration as a whole, especially LWOP.
  #252  
Old 01-24-2020, 09:35 AM
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But as I said, there is not new evidence in most cases even we someone protests their innocence. No DNA out there; nothing. Zero chance of reversing the conviction.

So under this logic, and since there could at least be one innocent person wrongfully incarcerated, we should eliminate incarceration as a whole, especially LWOP.
"Most" is not "nothing" or "zero". Under my logic, there remains a non-zero chance of fixing an incorrect verdict/sentence. Under your logic, there is absolutely a zero chance of fixing an incorrect verdict/sentence. Non-zero is different than zero.
  #253  
Old 01-24-2020, 09:42 AM
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"Most" is not "nothing" or "zero". Under my logic, there remains a non-zero chance of fixing an incorrect verdict/sentence. Under your logic, there is absolutely a zero chance of fixing an incorrect verdict/sentence. Non-zero is different than zero.
So, it's pretty close to zero that this innocent man will ever get justice. Why do we imprison him when there is such a risk of error?
  #254  
Old 01-24-2020, 09:56 AM
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So, it's pretty close to zero that this innocent man will ever get justice. Why do we imprison him when there is such a risk of error?
I agree, we shouldn't imprison innocent people! But if we do, we have a chance of correcting that mistake. And I haven't seen any statistics that it's "pretty close to zero" that innocent convicts are eventually freed -- do you have such statistics?

In any case, even if you're right, it's not a defense of the death penalty. If you want to argue against imprisonment at all, then feel free -- but this is a thread about the death penalty, and I oppose it because (among many other reasons) it's wrong to institute an irreversible solution when the alternative is just as effective in terms of justice and deterrence.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 01-24-2020 at 09:57 AM.
  #255  
Old 01-24-2020, 10:29 AM
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If you want to argue against imprisonment at all, then feel free -- but this is a thread about the death penalty, and I oppose it because (among many other reasons) it's wrong to institute an irreversible solution when the alternative is just as effective in terms of justice and deterrence.
If you read the OP, you will notice this
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One was previously convicted of murder in 1977, but was allowed out and killed again in 1990. Another was convicted of murder and sentenced to LWOP, but escaped, and killed two more people.
Which is evidence that the alternative is not just as effective.

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  #256  
Old 01-24-2020, 10:43 AM
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It is not evidence for that, because you are still pretending that the number of innocents executed is zero.

Nor should those who are arguing that innocents have been executed have to point to specific examples. We can find plenty of examples where justice has not been done, such as a man sentenced to death while his court-appointed attorney slept through his trial. Now, maybe that man was innocent, and maybe he was guilty. We're certainly going to have a hard time proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he was innocent. But there also was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty.

So, look for cases where there's a 1% chance that the defendant didn't actually do it. For every hundred of those, there is, on average, one innocent man. Look for cases where there's a 10% chance that he didn't do it. For every ten of those, there is, on average, one innocent man. Look for cases where it's 50-50: For every two of those, there's one innocent man. It adds up to a heck of a lot of innocent men, even if we don't know which ones.
  #257  
Old 01-24-2020, 11:02 AM
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It is not evidence for that, because you are still pretending that the number of innocents executed is zero.

Nor should those who are arguing that innocents have been executed have to point to specific examples. We can find plenty of examples where justice has not been done, such as a man sentenced to death while his court-appointed attorney slept through his trial. Now, maybe that man was innocent, and maybe he was guilty. We're certainly going to have a hard time proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he was innocent. But there also was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty.

So, look for cases where there's a 1% chance that the defendant didn't actually do it. For every hundred of those, there is, on average, one innocent man. Look for cases where there's a 10% chance that he didn't do it. For every ten of those, there is, on average, one innocent man. Look for cases where it's 50-50: For every two of those, there's one innocent man. It adds up to a heck of a lot of innocent men, even if we don't know which ones.
Yeah, I'm usually with Shodan on things, but this has to be correct. No human endeavor is perfect. Car brakes fail, planes crash, bridges fall. Our justice system will convict, at minimum, a non-zero number of innocent people, and if we have the death penalty we will execute a non-zero number of innocent people, even if we cannot point to THAT GUY and identify the innocent person executed.

I just disagree that LWOP is the "solution." Take a child sexual assault case with no DNA and the guy gets an effective life sentence. Let's assume he is one of the innocent ones. How is he EVER, and I do mean ever, going to prove his innocence? Remember, judges don't listen to recantation evidence.
  #258  
Old 01-24-2020, 11:11 AM
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In a modern sexual assault case with no DNA evidence, he should never have been convicted in the first place. The difficulty of proving innocence is why we put the burden of proof on the prosecution.
  #259  
Old 01-24-2020, 11:16 AM
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In a modern sexual assault case with no DNA evidence, he should never have been convicted in the first place. The difficulty of proving innocence is why we put the burden of proof on the prosecution.
It happens all of the time. All of the time. Many if not most accusations are brought years later.
  #260  
Old 01-24-2020, 11:28 AM
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In a modern sexual assault case with no DNA evidence, he should never have been convicted in the first place. The difficulty of proving innocence is why we put the burden of proof on the prosecution.
That is pretty ridiculous if you think about it for a second. Not only because of delayed accusations mentioned but also because there's plenty of sexual assault that wouldn't leave DNA. Your standard would also let women and condom users off the hook
  #261  
Old 01-24-2020, 11:37 AM
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If you read the OP, you will notice this Which is evidence that the alternative is not just as effective.
The alternative isn't "let the guy out in a handful of years", but LWOP.
  #262  
Old 01-24-2020, 11:41 AM
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The alternative isn't "let the guy out in a handful of years", but LWOP.
And the guy who escaped did so very quickly after being sentenced. So unless you want to give the judge a gun and let him shoot the defendant dead as soon as he's found guilty, I don't see how sentencing him to death instead of LWOP would have helped. But of course, this has already been pointed out to Shodan in this very thread, so....
  #263  
Old 01-24-2020, 11:56 AM
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It is not evidence for that, because you are still pretending that the number of innocents executed is zero.
Of course it's evidence, unless you are pretending that the number of people murdered by previous offenders is zero, and you can't pretend that because there are examples right in the OP.
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Nor should those who are arguing that innocents have been executed have to point to specific examples.
I disagree - if you are going to assert something, I would like to see evidence.
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We can find plenty of examples where justice has not been done, such as a man sentenced to death while his court-appointed attorney slept through his trial. Now, maybe that man was innocent, and maybe he was guilty. We're certainly going to have a hard time proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he was innocent. But there also was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty.
This is false. There was indeed proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty, even if his lawyer slept. That was the finding of the legal system.
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So, look for cases where there's a 1% chance that the defendant didn't actually do it. For every hundred of those, there is, on average, one innocent man. Look for cases where there's a 10% chance that he didn't do it. For every ten of those, there is, on average, one innocent man. Look for cases where it's 50-50: For every two of those, there's one innocent man. It adds up to a heck of a lot of innocent men, even if we don't know which ones.
As I am sure you are aware, that's not how the criminal justice system works. It's binary - either guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, or not guilty.

If you would like to go thru the exercise of finding the cases of 1% chance of actual innocence and do the math from there, fine with me. But show your work, and if you aren't going to provide any examples as you mention above, then I don't see how you can establish that 1%, or 10%, or 50%, is anything but a figure you plucked out of the air. And I have already provided examples of murderers sentenced to prison, even including LWOP, who killed innocent people. And more examples are not hard to come by.And that's only after three years.

Regards,
Shodan
  #264  
Old 01-24-2020, 11:56 AM
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And unfortunately, generally in cases that aren't brought until years later, there just isn't enough evidence to support a standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt".

This is a problem. The solution is not to abandon the requirement of "beyond a reasonable doubt"; the solution is to change society so that victims are able to come forward right away while evidence is still fresh.
  #265  
Old 01-24-2020, 11:58 AM
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OK, Shodan, thanks for the cite that 98.8% of people convicted for murder didn't need to be in prison at all.
  #266  
Old 01-24-2020, 12:03 PM
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But as I said, there is not new evidence in most cases even we someone protests their innocence. No DNA out there; nothing. Zero chance of reversing the conviction.

So under this logic, and since there could at least be one innocent person wrongfully incarcerated, we should eliminate incarceration as a whole, especially LWOP.
Ridiculous "logic"

Mistakes in the system are inevitable -- everyone agrees on that point. The logic you're missing has to do with the consequences of the system's errors. At least we can offer money to someone who's been locked up wrongfully. More importantly, we can offer that man freedom with whatever time is left.

You cannot offer any kind of compensation at all to someone who's been convicted. More than that, you can only offer money as compensation to the aggrieved when what they really would have preferred is more time with their loved ones.

How effing hard is that to understand?
  #267  
Old 01-24-2020, 12:03 PM
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Early days yet, but this is a strong contender for Non Sequitur of the Year for 2020.

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  #268  
Old 01-24-2020, 12:05 PM
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I don't even want to know how many innocent human beings have been executed. It's too horrifying. The number of people, especially minorities, and ESPECIALLY Blacks, who have been wrongly imprisoned is horrifying enough.
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  #269  
Old 01-24-2020, 12:50 PM
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Ridiculous "logic"

Mistakes in the system are inevitable -- everyone agrees on that point. The logic you're missing has to do with the consequences of the system's errors. At least we can offer money to someone who's been locked up wrongfully. More importantly, we can offer that man freedom with whatever time is left.

You cannot offer any kind of compensation at all to someone who's been convicted. More than that, you can only offer money as compensation to the aggrieved when what they really would have preferred is more time with their loved ones.

How effing hard is that to understand?
You cannot give any money to someone who has no way of proving his innocence. That is a pipe dream for anti-DP activists. Reversals of convictions on habeas corpus are so rare that judges are rubber stamping denials.

But your side seems to be okay with putting innocent people in prison for decades, but just not executing them. That's not ridiculous logic. You KNOW that there are innocent people in prison who have no way of proving their innocence, there will be no money coming to them, no freedom coming to them, yet you still support LWOP.
  #270  
Old 01-24-2020, 02:15 PM
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You cannot give any money to someone who has no way of proving his innocence. That is a pipe dream for anti-DP activists. Reversals of convictions on habeas corpus are so rare that judges are rubber stamping denials.
No, I mean reversals of convictions based on DNA evidence, such as the kind that the Innocence Project has produced over the years. I'm not debating whether someone actually has or hasn't been wrongfully executed post-1976 -- I'm guessing that, over time, the odds of executing an innocent person rise to 100. It's just plain math, really.

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But your side seems to be okay with putting innocent people in prison for decades, but just not executing them. That's not ridiculous logic. You KNOW that there are innocent people in prison who have no way of proving their innocence, there will be no money coming to them, no freedom coming to them, yet you still support LWOP.
What the Christ is your argument? Sheesh, you're creating a Mount Rushmore-sized straw man right out of thin air. Yes, I still support life without parole because it's possible to reverse that mistake. Simultaneously, I would advocate improvements in the system that make wrongful convictions - capital crimes or not - rarer than they are today. See, people can walk and chew gum at the same time.
  #271  
Old 01-24-2020, 02:23 PM
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You KNOW that there are innocent people in prison who have no way of proving their innocence, there will be no money coming to them, no freedom coming to them, yet you still support LWOP.
I'm curious. Are you advocating that the strenuous requirements of a death penalty case be applied to all cases? As you said, death penalty cases require a great deal of time and money, much much more than a regular murder case, including massive post conviction work and spending. Are you advocating the changing of the system so that ALL cases get treated like death penalty cases?
  #272  
Old 01-24-2020, 03:04 PM
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I'm curious. Are you advocating that the strenuous requirements of a death penalty case be applied to all cases? As you said, death penalty cases require a great deal of time and money, much much more than a regular murder case, including massive post conviction work and spending. Are you advocating the changing of the system so that ALL cases get treated like death penalty cases?
Yes and no. I think many more protections should be instituted at the trial level for both capital and non-capital cases. I think full discovery should be permitted as it is in civil cases with depositions, interrogatories and requests for production of documents (not just on the state, but subpoena power for private persons). More review of the factual findings of juries.

None of this having to wait for 20 years if you are innocent to get relief and not waiting 20 years to be executed if you are guilty.
  #273  
Old 01-24-2020, 03:22 PM
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Yes and no. I think many more protections should be instituted at the trial level for both capital and non-capital cases.
So capital cases would still be subjected to more stringent requirements than non-capital cases?
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I think full discovery should be permitted as it is in civil cases with depositions, interrogatories and requests for production of documents (not just on the state, but subpoena power for private persons). More review of the factual findings of juries.
Wow. The system is already snail slow. Adding yet more "protections" will not certainly not help you in your concerns of delays. Depositions in every felony case? Good lord, we'd have a backlog going into decades.

Would your "additional protections" apply to all felonies, or just homicides? Is there a punishment level where you would be willing to draw a line between current system and your more stringent requirements? If so, would it be fair to say that "your side seems to be okay with putting innocent people in prison for xxx amount of time, but not for xxx + 1 year amount of time"?

Last edited by Hamlet; 01-24-2020 at 03:23 PM.
  #274  
Old 01-24-2020, 03:38 PM
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Yeah, I'm usually with Shodan on things, but this has to be correct. No human endeavor is perfect. Car brakes fail, planes crash, bridges fall. Our justice system will convict, at minimum, a non-zero number of innocent people, and if we have the death penalty we will execute a non-zero number of innocent people, even if we cannot point to THAT GUY and identify the innocent person executed.
I similarly find myself agreeing with Shodan's posts most of the time but not in this case. But my argument would not be the categorical one that it's (the justice system) is devised by humans so it must make mistakes sometimes. It is and it does. However the case of eg. plane crashes shows up that we don't reject systems or practices *just* because they can make mistakes that kill innocent people. The air transport system has and will continue, at least rarely, to kill innocent people. Not abolishing it isn't based on the idea we've seen the last fatal commercial airliner crash. Just the fact that innocent people might be killed by something doesn't disqualify it. It depends how many and what good the thing accomplishes.

However, the only real measure we have in the justice system is guilty/not-guilty. It's IMO not rare enough for people to be executed who could or should have been found not guilty if the system was working as designed and advertised. It's probably true that the number of executed people everyone (who has read articles or seen a documentary etc about the case) agrees almost certainly didn't do it, at all, is very small or even zero for particular fairly long periods. But that's a subjective finding by lay people and the bar set at *nearly everybody agrees they didn't do it*. The system's only official products are guilty and not-guilty so the only way to measure IMO is relative to that standard, with error being a person found guilty beyond reasonable doubt with omitted or wrong evidence that could or should have created reasonable doubt. Again *that's* not rare enough IMO in DP in US where it's practiced, also combined with the high cost of all the attempted safeguards especially in terms of highly capable minds (who become lawyers when society might be better off if there wasn't as much need for lawyers and those same brains worked on other things), compared to *relatively* low cost and average capability people needed to just keep somebody locked up.

And the fact that a few 'life sentence' murderers killed again isn't any more a killer argument for the DP than again a domestic commercial airliner crash per decade or so invalidates the air transport system. Zero innocent deaths isn't a realistic target in any of those situations mentioned IMO, with again the issue in DP cases being that the system has only two outputs G/NG. So there's no choice IMO but to count G verdicts that should have been NG as error, not count 'wholly innocent' based on democratized arguments about opinions of media articles dealing with cases. We just don't know who was 'wholly innocent' so it's not a valid measure. With planes crashes we know 100% who are on the plane and in vast majority of cases we're 100% sure they were innocent of causing the crash. And again still we accept *some* such deaths.

Last edited by Corry El; 01-24-2020 at 03:42 PM.
  #275  
Old 01-24-2020, 03:39 PM
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So capital cases would still be subjected to more stringent requirements than non-capital cases? Wow. The system is already snail slow. Adding yet more "protections" will not certainly not help you in your concerns of delays. Depositions in every felony case? Good lord, we'd have a backlog going into decades.

Would your "additional protections" apply to all felonies, or just homicides? Is there a punishment level where you would be willing to draw a line between current system and your more stringent requirements? If so, would it be fair to say that "your side seems to be okay with putting innocent people in prison for xxx amount of time, but not for xxx + 1 year amount of time"?
I haven't thought it all the way through yet, but certainly depositions in every felony case. If you sue me for money, we both get to take depositions. Why shouldn't that apply when prison time or death is on the line instead of just money? If it is too slow, then the government needs to devote more resources.

I'm a small government conservative, but at minimum the government should have functioning courts.

No system is going to be perfect, but I think it has become far less perfect with the over criminalization of everything and the assembly line justice where even innocent people want to plead guilty because the downside and the horrendous sentence you will get by going to trial is simply too severe. As much as the jury system is revered, it is not the best system; there is too much prejudice, ignorance, and it is completely unreviewable except in the most extreme instances.
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Old 01-24-2020, 04:54 PM
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I haven't thought it all the way through yet, but certainly depositions in every felony case. If you sue me for money, we both get to take depositions. Why shouldn't that apply when prison time or death is on the line instead of just money? If it is too slow, then the government needs to devote more resources.
I'd be highly skeptical of your ability to convince other "small government conservatives" to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the criminal justice system. Don't get me wrong, I'd love more money. But a vast majority of "small government conservatives" are against spending on the criminal justice system.

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I'm a small government conservative, but at minimum the government should have functioning courts.
45 of the 50 states do not have depositions for felony cases without prior court approval. Are you arguing 45 states don't have "functioning courts"?

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Originally Posted by UltraVires
No system is going to be perfect, but I think it has become far less perfect with the over criminalization of everything and the assembly line justice where even innocent people want to plead guilty because the downside and the horrendous sentence you will get by going to trial is simply too severe. As much as the jury system is revered, it is not the best system; there is too much prejudice, ignorance, and it is completely unreviewable except in the most extreme instances.
While I agree with you that the incarceration rate in the US is waaaaayyyy to high (especially with drug related offenses) and more addiction treatment is necessary, I disagree that the system is an "Assembly line justice where even innocent people want to plead guilty." But, hey, if you can convince your political party to put more money into the criminal justice system, I'm all for it.

And, if you get a second, could you answer my other question: "[W]ould it be fair to say that "your side seems to be okay with putting innocent people in prison for 365 days, but not for 365 +1 days"?

Last edited by Hamlet; 01-24-2020 at 04:54 PM.
  #277  
Old 01-24-2020, 05:06 PM
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I'd be highly skeptical of your ability to convince other "small government conservatives" to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the criminal justice system. Don't get me wrong, I'd love more money. But a vast majority of "small government conservatives" are against spending on the criminal justice system.

45 of the 50 states do not have depositions for felony cases without prior court approval. Are you arguing 45 states don't have "functioning courts"?

While I agree with you that the incarceration rate in the US is waaaaayyyy to high (especially with drug related offenses) and more addiction treatment is necessary, I disagree that the system is an "Assembly line justice where even innocent people want to plead guilty." But, hey, if you can convince your political party to put more money into the criminal justice system, I'm all for it.

And, if you get a second, could you answer my other question: "[W]ould it be fair to say that "your side seems to be okay with putting innocent people in prison for 365 days, but not for 365 +1 days"?
1) I disagree with my party on this issue.

2) No. If it is decided that courts need X, Y, and Z to be fair, then the government should devote money for that purpose. Courts are a basic function of government and not big government spending.

3) I'm not sure the extent of your question. I'm not in favor of putting innocent people in prison for any length of time, however I understand that no system is perfect and that innocent people will fall through the cracks. Let's enact my reforms to reduce the possibility of innocent people being convicted.

But to say that we should not have this or that form of punishment because innocent people could be wrongly convicted seems to be an argument not to have any form of punishment lest we make an innocent person suffer.
  #278  
Old 01-24-2020, 06:54 PM
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This is false. There was indeed proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty, even if his lawyer slept. That was the finding of the legal system.
Yes. There was also proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Leon Brown and Henry McCollum were guilty of the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina, until new testing thirty years later showed somebody else's DNA in her underwear. A key piece of evidence used to send them to prison was Brown's confession, but a judge later ruled that a detective writing out the confession in the detective's words, placing it in front of a mentally-disabled 15-year-old (Brown's IQ tests in the range of 60), and browbeating him until he signed it amounted to official misconduct. Brown and McCollum remained alive to be released, although their post-release life hasn't been so great either.

Down in Florida, Ralph Wright was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and sentenced to die for a double murder. He may have actually done it, but the Florida Supreme Court found on appeal that although he did have motive and opportunity, so did other people (who were never seriously investigated by the police), and there was not a shred of evidence actually linking him to the crime: no DNA, no eyewitnesses, no fingerprints or other forensic evidence, no confession, no murder weapon, nothing at all to say he'd even been in the same county at the time of the murders. The court concluded that: "Although the facts established at trial support a strong suspicion of guilt, they are not inconsistent with innocence" and ordered a post-conviction acquittal.

Also in Florida, Nathan Myers and his uncle Clifford Williams spent FORTY-THREE YEARS in prison for murdering one woman and shooting another, until the state attorney's Conviction Integrity Review Unit started investigating and concluded that the evidence was insufficient there too. While the state can't give them back those years, at least they can have whatever years remain to them, which is more than can be said for those who have been executed.

Since 1973, at least 167 men convicted of capital murder have been freed based on new evidence or post-conviction remedies. Average time from conviction to release: 14 years. Shodan, would you have been comfortable if any or all of these men had been executed within 21 days of conviction? (Remember, your OP included the case of a murderer who escaped three weeks after conviction, so to prevent repeats, you must execute the convicted swiftly.)
  #279  
Old 01-24-2020, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
But as I said, there is not new evidence in most cases even we someone protests their innocence. No DNA out there; nothing. Zero chance of reversing the conviction.
There doesn't need to be NEW evidence; sometimes it is sufficient to reexamine old evidence with fresh eyes. Look at the three cases I cite in #278; only one of the three relied on DNA. In fact, of the 167 exonerations cited by the Death Penalty Information Center (linked above), just 20 relied on DNA.
  #280  
Old 01-25-2020, 10:29 AM
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So what should we do with convicted murderers? Executing innocent people is wrong, but so is keeping innocent people in prison is also wrong. And what if a man commits a hideous double murder, has to sit in prison awaiting his trial and is found "not guilty"? Would such a person ever commit another violent crime and end up in prison?
  #281  
Old 01-25-2020, 11:19 AM
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So what should we do with convicted murderers? Executing innocent people is wrong, but so is keeping innocent people in prison is also wrong. And what if a man commits a hideous double murder, has to sit in prison awaiting his trial and is found "not guilty"? Would such a person ever commit another violent crime and end up in prison?
Right, and again having innocent people die in airliner and auto crashes is 'wrong' if we could prevent those. Which we could by banning those forms of travel.

IOW the implied moral standard that you have to abandon something if *any* innocent person could be killed or harmed by it is logically unsustainable.

You can't avoid getting in the messy details of how *often* a given system does wrong and how much wrong to innocent people, and getting everyone to agree on the underlying messy facts. Gambits like pointing out one life sentence murderer who escaped to kill again, or one 'provably truly innocent' person who was executed are an attempt to get around that. But the implied standard 'explain to the family of that one person...' is populist BS not logic. 'We' allow all sorts of things that kill innocent people, if it's few enough compared to the societal benefit.

Personally I believe the demonstrated frequency of errors in capital murder convictions is too high to favor the DP. And again error in that context must be defined as 'guilty' verdicts that should have not 'not guilty' if the system was working properly, not a pseudo standard of 'prove beyond reasonable doubt the person was wholly innocent' which turns the basic principle of the system upside down.

Then, cutting down the error rate (G's which should have been NG, not 'we're sure they didn't do it') raises costs and narrows the application of the DP to where it's useless for deterrence, which would be the main valid reason IMO to have it. It's obvious that lack of DP doesn't breed uncontrollable lawlessness by family members seeking vengeance, which might be another valid reason if true. So junk it, IMO. But as to putting people in prison for long periods though we're not 100% sure 100% of them deserve it, that gets back to cost v benefit, the cost of not sending anyone to prison or ensuring 100% correct convictions is too high IMO. Doesn't mean we should look for positive cost/benefit ways to *reduce* erroneous convictions though.

Last edited by Corry El; 01-25-2020 at 11:23 AM.
  #282  
Old 01-25-2020, 11:24 AM
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Doesn't mean we shouldn't.
  #283  
Old 01-25-2020, 01:10 PM
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So what should we do with convicted murderers? Executing innocent people is wrong, but so is keeping innocent people in prison is also wrong. And what if a man commits a hideous double murder, has to sit in prison awaiting his trial and is found "not guilty"? Would such a person ever commit another violent crime and end up in prison?
And lets take a heinous example- a man murders a whole family, then kills more. He is caught, cheerfully admits guilt and even shows the police where the bodies and evidence is. No doubt of guilt. He also says he loves killing and will kill again, given any chance. What is to be done with him that will prevent him from killing again?
  #284  
Old 01-26-2020, 11:05 AM
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What is to be done with him that will prevent him from killing again?
Ask Mr. No-Last-Words.

Actually there was little risk he would have repeated his crime. He was fresh out of kids.
  #285  
Old 01-27-2020, 09:09 AM
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I similarly find myself agreeing with Shodan's posts most of the time but not in this case. But my argument would not be the categorical one that it's (the justice system) is devised by humans so it must make mistakes sometimes. It is and it does. However the case of eg. plane crashes shows up that we don't reject systems or practices *just* because they can make mistakes that kill innocent people. The air transport system has and will continue, at least rarely, to kill innocent people. Not abolishing it isn't based on the idea we've seen the last fatal commercial airliner crash. Just the fact that innocent people might be killed by something doesn't disqualify it. It depends how many and what good the thing accomplishes.
You are correct - no system ever devised by man is or ever will be perfect.Therefore, the system where we execute murderers, despite proof beyond a reasonable doubt and after years and decades of appeals, will, eventually execute an innocent person. We might not even know it, but eventually we will. Similarly, the system where we condemn murderers to prison is not perfect. The difference is that we know pretty clearly that innocent people, more than one, have already died due to the imperfections of the "prison for murderers" system. Because murderers escape, are paroled, are furloughed, kill other prisoners, kill guards, etc., even from prison.

So the question is not, which system is perfect and never allows an innocent person to die. The question is, under which system is the smallest number of innocents going to die. There has been, possibly, maybe, at worst one or two innocents executed. At the same time, pretty certainly, many more than that who were murdered by people who were not executed. See the OP.

It doesn't help to say "innocent people shouldn't die". Innocent people are going to die either way. Do we go with the system giving the larger number, or the smaller?

Regards,
Shodan
  #286  
Old 01-27-2020, 10:14 AM
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Convicted rapist Kevin Coe's mother tried to hire a hitman to kill the prosecuting attorney and judge who sent her son to prison. Coe has neer recanted his claim of innocence, served the maximum 25 years, and is still incarcerated as a sexual predator. If he gets out, he will probably be commitment more violent sexual attacks.
  #287  
Old 01-27-2020, 10:17 AM
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There has been, possibly, maybe, at worst one or two innocents executed.
At worst, hundreds or more, considering how abominably unfair the justice system was for most of the 20th century. But we'll probably never know for sure.
  #288  
Old 01-27-2020, 10:54 AM
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So the question is not, which system is perfect and never allows an innocent person to die. The question is, under which system is the smallest number of innocents going to die.
Nah, that's not really the question. If it were, we would be morally obligated to advocate a system of autocratic tyranny that executed suspected "murderous types" at the drop of a hat, as long as the total number of innocent deaths ended up being less than that produced by the combination of executions and murders under other systems.

What you're speciously trying to ignore here is that there's a significant ethical difference between accepting the inevitability of some evil and/or sick individuals choosing to illegally kill innocents for their own selfish purposes, and accepting a legal system deliberately made draconian enough to inevitably legally kill innocents under the guise of socially approved criminal justice.

We as a society are not morally obligated to knowingly undertake to kill more innocents because we want individual murderous lawbreakers to kill fewer. On the contrary, it's hypocritical of us to decry killing innocents as wrong if we're not doing everything we can to avoid killing innocents ourselves.

Last edited by Kimstu; 01-27-2020 at 10:58 AM.
  #289  
Old 01-27-2020, 11:23 AM
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There has been, possibly, maybe, at worst one or two innocents executed.
Cite?

DNA evidence, for example, was not available for prosecution OR exoneration until the late 1980s at the earliest, so was not available to any of the 8000 or so people executed in the United States between 1900 and 1987. We know that people have been exonerated since that date; how can you possibly know that **NONE** would have been exonerated before then?
  #290  
Old 01-27-2020, 12:32 PM
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Cite?

DNA evidence, for example, was not available for prosecution OR exoneration until the late 1980s at the earliest, so was not available to any of the 8000 or so people executed in the United States between 1900 and 1987. We know that people have been exonerated since that date; how can you possibly know that **NONE** would have been exonerated before then?
I am talking about the period since the reinstatement of the DP in 1976. I am sure there were innocent people executed a hundred years ago, but forensic science has advanced.

As far as a cite for those executed subsequently to that date, again, they were all convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, their cases survived years and decades of appeals, and even things like the Innocence Project has not been able to come up with a case where DNA exonerated an actually executed person. To be fair, I don't know if they concern themselves with those kinds of cases. But IMO if they oppose the DP, they should - such cases would help them in their advocacy.

The only case I am aware of off the top of my head is Roger Coleman, who was convicted of murdering his sister-in-law based in part on less sophisticated DNA evidence which IIRC established his guilt to within 2% or thereabouts. There was other evidence as well, and he was duly executed. Later the DNA was re-tested using a more exact method that narrowed the ID down much more precisely. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to guess what that more exact method demonstrated.
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Nah, that's not really the question. If it were, we would be morally obligated to advocate a system of autocratic tyranny that executed suspected "murderous types" at the drop of a hat, as long as the total number of innocent deaths ended up being less than that produced by the combination of executions and murders under other systems.
Sure it's the question. And no, we don't need to advocate a tyrannical system - that's a false dichotomy.
Quote:
What you're speciously trying to ignore here is that there's a significant ethical difference between accepting the inevitability of some evil and/or sick individuals choosing to illegally kill innocents for their own selfish purposes, and accepting a legal system deliberately made draconian enough to inevitably legally kill innocents under the guise of socially approved criminal justice.
If I understand your argument, you are saying that it is ethically superior to accept a system where more innocent people die rather than one in which fewer innocent people die. I don't agree.

If we execute a thousand people, of whom one is factually innocent and thereby prevent the 999 guilty from committing a dozen murders, IMO that is ethically superior to not executing a thousand people, sparing one innocent life at the cost of twelve innocent lives. If your argument is that it is twelve times worse that society executes one person than for murderers to kill a person, I don't agree. The innocents are dead in both cases, and their families and society have suffered the loss. It's just that in one instance, twelve times as many families have been harmed and society has suffered twelve times as much loss.
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We as a society are not morally obligated to knowingly undertake to kill more innocents because we want individual murderous lawbreakers to kill fewer. On the contrary, it's hypocritical of us to decry killing innocents as wrong if we're not doing everything we can to avoid killing innocents ourselves.
Hypocrisy comes when we decry killing innocents as wrong when we aren't doing everything we can to avoid killing innocents -by, for instance, executing murderers, and thereby saving innocent lives.

Regards,
Shodan
  #291  
Old 01-27-2020, 01:13 PM
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As far as a cite for those executed subsequently to that date, again, they were all convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, their cases survived years and decades of appeals, and even things like the Innocence Project has not been able to come up with a case where DNA exonerated an actually executed person. To be fair, I don't know if they concern themselves with those kinds of cases. But IMO if they oppose the DP, they should - such cases would help them in their advocacy.
They're trying, but it is rather difficult. Consider, e.g., the case of Sedley Alley. He was executed in Tennessee in 2006, but went to his death protesting his innocence. Before his execution, the Innocence Project tried to halt it to get DNA tested; the request was denied. The Innocence Project has tried again; oops, again denied. The judge has ruled that only the convict has the legal standing to request DNA testing, and he is unavailable; his next of kin have no standing to act on behalf of his estate. (The State of Tennessee vigorously argued against testing; investigators in Missouri want to establish whether there is a connection between the murder in Tennessee and a 2018 murder in St. Louis.)

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If we execute a thousand people, of whom one is factually innocent and thereby prevent the 999 guilty from committing a dozen murders, IMO that is ethically superior to not executing a thousand people, sparing one innocent life at the cost of twelve innocent lives. If your argument is that it is twelve times worse that society executes one person than for murderers to kill a person, I don't agree. The innocents are dead in both cases, and their families and society have suffered the loss. It's just that in one instance, twelve times as many families have been harmed and society has suffered twelve times as much loss.
My argument is that we have no idea whether we are executing 999 murderers and one innocent, or 850 murderers and 150 innocents. If we killed 150 innocent lives to save twelve, do you still agree it was worth it?

Yes, forensic science has advanced. However, a lot of the cases don't really turn on forensics; they turn on eyewitness testimony, coerced confessions, prosecutorial misconduct, police screwups, and other factors that haven't really changed all that much in the last forty years. Look at the case of Ralph Wright, mentioned above; look at any number of the Innocence Project's exonerations. Twenty out of 167 exonerations were based on DNA. That means 147 people were released from Death Row because of something OTHER THAN what you seem to be hyper-focused on. Do you really believe that the police never mess up, that prosecutors never lie, that forensics techs are never corrupt?
  #292  
Old 01-27-2020, 01:17 PM
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I am talking about the period since the reinstatement of the DP in 1976. I am sure there were innocent people executed a hundred years ago, but forensic science has advanced.

As far as a cite for those executed subsequently to that date, again, they were all convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, their cases survived years and decades of appeals, and even things like the Innocence Project has not been able to come up with a case where DNA exonerated an actually executed person. To be fair, I don't know if they concern themselves with those kinds of cases. But IMO if they oppose the DP, they should - such cases would help them in their advocacy.

The only case I am aware of off the top of my head is Roger Coleman, who was convicted of murdering his sister-in-law based in part on less sophisticated DNA evidence which IIRC established his guilt to within 2% or thereabouts. There was other evidence as well, and he was duly executed. Later the DNA was re-tested using a more exact method that narrowed the ID down much more precisely. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to guess what that more exact method demonstrated.
Sure it's the question. And no, we don't need to advocate a tyrannical system - that's a false dichotomy.
If I understand your argument, you are saying that it is ethically superior to accept a system where more innocent people die rather than one in which fewer innocent people die. I don't agree.

If we execute a thousand people, of whom one is factually innocent and thereby prevent the 999 guilty from committing a dozen murders, IMO that is ethically superior to not executing a thousand people, sparing one innocent life at the cost of twelve innocent lives. If your argument is that it is twelve times worse that society executes one person than for murderers to kill a person, I don't agree. The innocents are dead in both cases, and their families and society have suffered the loss. It's just that in one instance, twelve times as many families have been harmed and society has suffered twelve times as much loss.
Hypocrisy comes when we decry killing innocents as wrong when we aren't doing everything we can to avoid killing innocents -by, for instance, executing murderers, and thereby saving innocent lives.

Regards,
Shodan
Have you or anyone else provided an example that the death penalty (which usually takes many years to be instituted) would have prevented a later murder? I'm not sure I even accept that possibility without good evidence.

Moreover, if we imprison and execute an innocent man, how much more likely is it that that innocent man's children will grow up to be criminals than if they were later exonerated and released? How much more have we increased distrust in the system, and mortal fear of law enforcement and the justice system (which can endanger everyone), by executing the innocent?

The ramifications of executing the innocent go far beyond a single life affected.

EDIT: Also, what slash2K said about how little we know about the number of innocent actually executed. Any number, including 0 or 1 out of 1000, is basically a wild guess. You're making all types of assumptions about the accuracy and effectiveness of a justice system that huge portions of the country distrust as fundamentally biased and unfair.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 01-27-2020 at 01:22 PM.
  #293  
Old 01-27-2020, 02:02 PM
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My argument is that we have no idea whether we are executing 999 murderers and one innocent, or 850 murderers and 150 innocents. If we killed 150 innocent lives to save twelve, do you still agree it was worth it?
No, I wouldn't. All that we need therefore is 150 instances where innocent people have been executed. Because really - the idea that we have no idea how many executed people were actually innocent, all of whom have been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and after decades of appeals on every possible point (and some impossible - Sedley Alley confessed to the rape, murder, and mutilation of his victim, led the police to the crime scene, and pointed out the tree from which he tore the branch that he rammed up his victim's vagina, and never even suggested that he didn't do it until twenty days before his scheduled execution).
Quote:
Originally Posted by iiandyiiii
Have you or anyone else provided an example that the death penalty (which usually takes many years to be instituted) would have prevented a later murder? I'm not sure I even accept that possibility without good evidence.
Shodan's Law: If they didn't read it the first time, they aren't going to read it the second time either.

Regards,
Shodan
  #294  
Old 01-27-2020, 02:24 PM
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No, I wouldn't. All that we need therefore is 150 instances where innocent people have been executed. Because really - the idea that we have no idea how many executed people were actually innocent, all of whom have been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and after decades of appeals on every possible point (and some impossible - Sedley Alley confessed to the rape, murder, and mutilation of his victim, led the police to the crime scene, and pointed out the tree from which he tore the branch that he rammed up his victim's vagina, and never even suggested that he didn't do it until twenty days before his scheduled execution).
How do you know Alley made a legitimate (and uncoerced) confession and legitimately led the police to this evidence? Some of us don't accept an account just because the police say that's how it happened.

Quote:
Shodan's Law: If they didn't read it the first time, they aren't going to read it the second time either.
You forgot the corollary, that sometimes you get it wrong -- when your cite doesn't say what you think it did (in this case that the inmate in question would have had plenty of time and opportunity to kill, as they did, whether they received the death penalty or not).

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 01-27-2020 at 02:28 PM.
  #295  
Old 01-27-2020, 02:40 PM
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No, I wouldn't. All that we need therefore is 150 instances where innocent people have been executed. Because really - the idea that we have no idea how many executed people were actually innocent, all of whom have been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and after decades of appeals on every possible point (and some impossible - Sedley Alley confessed to the rape, murder, and mutilation of his victim, led the police to the crime scene, and pointed out the tree from which he tore the branch that he rammed up his victim's vagina, and never even suggested that he didn't do it until twenty days before his scheduled execution).
He also confessed to ramming her with his car; the autopsy report introduced at trial established she had not been struck by any vehicle. (Funny thing: the police initially believed Alley's car was used, until it turned out the blood on the car was from a bird.)

He said at trial that he was drunk that night and had no memory of what happened, and that his confession was coerced by police misconduct. (And he had been requesting DNA testing for years before his execution. At the time of his original conviction, DNA evidence had not been used anywhere in any criminal case in Tennessee, for any purpose, and it had not been used in any post-convictions exonerations anywhere in the world at the time of his first scheduled execution date.)

EVERY one of the 167 people exonerated by the Innocence Project was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and on average they went through fourteen years of appeals before being exonerated. (I mentioned a case above where it took 43 years.)

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Shodan's Law: If they didn't read it the first time, they aren't going to read it the second time either.
The problem here is that you have not addressed the timing issue arising from the cases you cite. Your original OP noted a man who escaped three weeks after conviction as an example of a murderer who killed again. However, you have been asked repeatedly to state how "decades of appeals" would have balanced against "escaped three weeks after conviction," and in almost three years you have declined to do so. Other than having him executed immediately after conviction, with zero chance of appeal, how would you have prevented his subsequent crimes? If you cannot give a good answer to that question, that "example" is worthless.

Here's another tidbit for you to ponder: the new Alley appeals were done in part because St. Louis County detectives want to explore similarities between that case and a triple attack in their jurisdiction, with two women sexually assaulted and a third murdered. If Tennessee had tested the DNA years ago, then it is at least possible that if it was a mismatch, the Memphis police would have looked further and found Thomas Bruce, a classmate of the murdered woman, BEFORE he shot Jamie Schmidt in the head in 2018. Why do you suppose the state of Tennessee is so adamantly opposed to a test that might have saved another innocent woman's life?
  #296  
Old 01-27-2020, 03:46 PM
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The point of the escapee who was sentenced to LWOP is that people can and do escape from prison. Whether he escaped three weeks or three years after conviction is almost irrelevant - prison rather than execution means the murderer continues to present a risk to the public (and to prison guards, other prisoners, etc.) See the title of the OP.

I'm not sure what you're getting at with the Thomas Bruce case. Alley, or at least Alley's lawyer said Bruce was not involved. Maybe he was, but there is no evidence of it. And you cite says there was no evidence at the scene linking Bruce to the crime of which has been accused. Bruce had no criminal record, so his DNA would not be on file.

But sure, test the DNA. Keeping in mind, even if Bruce was involved, that doesn't prove Alley wasn't, especially since Alley's story has gone from "sure I did it but I was too drunk to remember" to "I did it but I have multiple personality disorder" to "no I didn't do it at all."

Maybe Bruce was involved - he and Alley were both in the Navy, and attended the same avionics school, although not necessarily at the same time. But Bruce hasn't even been tried, yet.

Regards,
Shodan
  #297  
Old 01-27-2020, 04:27 PM
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The point of the escapee who was sentenced to LWOP is that people can and do escape from prison. Whether he escaped three weeks or three years after conviction is almost irrelevant - prison rather than execution means the murderer continues to present a risk to the public (and to prison guards, other prisoners, etc.)
Where do you imagine they put criminals who have been sentenced to death, but who have not yet been executed?

Last edited by Miller; 01-27-2020 at 04:27 PM.
  #298  
Old 01-27-2020, 04:38 PM
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On death row, which also doesn't always work.

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Shodan
  #299  
Old 01-27-2020, 05:13 PM
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On death row, which also doesn't always work.

Regards,
Shodan
That's the point here: those sentenced to death are confined to prison while the "decades of appeals" take place. Either you don't want decades of appeals, or you want them put somewhere other than prison: which is it?
  #300  
Old 01-27-2020, 06:08 PM
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I'm not sure what you're getting at with the Thomas Bruce case. Alley, or at least Alley's lawyer said Bruce was not involved.
Alley said that he didn't remember much if anything about the night, and that everything in his "confession" was dictated by the cops. Whether or not that is true is one of the questions in dispute.

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Maybe he was, but there is no evidence of it.
Could that be because the evidence hasn't been tested, and won't be tested if the State of Tennessee and the Shelby County prosecutors get their way?

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Bruce had no criminal record, so his DNA would not be on file.
His possession of a criminal record is not the only way his DNA, or the DNA of familial matches, could have gotten on file. Moreover, my argument was that if it was proven that Alley wasn't the perpetrator, or at least the only perpetrator, the detectives might have used other investigative techniques to identify potential suspects. Once they focused on Alley, no other suspects were considered.

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But sure, test the DNA. Keeping in mind, even if Bruce was involved, that doesn't prove Alley wasn't, especially since Alley's story has gone from "sure I did it but I was too drunk to remember" to "I did it but I have multiple personality disorder" to "no I didn't do it at all."
No, but if somebody else was involved, it throws further doubt on the "facts" established by the investigation and the purported confession, and invites further scrutiny of the police actions and potential police misconduct in obtaining it. (Keep in mind that if the police did falsify a confession, there's a pretty good chance they did it more than once, which means some other innocent people might have had their lives ruined as well, even if they didn't end up on death row.)
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