Today on Channel 5’s MorningLine Show in Nashville, the topic was Tennessee’s death penalty with TADP’s Executive Director, Stacy Rector, as the featured guest.
The discussion ranged from Tennessee’s much litigated lethal injection protocol to the needs of surviving family members of murder to the morality of the death penalty in general. The phone lines lit up throughout the show with voices on both sides of the issue joining in the discussion.
Overwhelmingly, callers raised emotional, philosophical, and moral arguments concerning the death penalty. As I noted on the program, these arguments are important but do not get at the real problems with the application and administration of the death penalty system in Tennessee. The data show that the death penalty, in its current form, continues to be unfairly applied–disproportionately affecting the poor, racial minorities, and those with mental illness; is extremely expensive, costing more than life without parole to maintain; and risks the execution of an innocent person. In fact, Tennessee has released 2 people from death row in the last few years who fought their wrongful convictions for over 20 years each before finally being freed. And they were the ones we found out about in time.
Regardless of our moral positions on the death penalty, as citizens, we need to take a hard look at the system to see if it is actually serving us in a smart, effective, and accurate way. I don’t believe that it is. Instead of wasting our resources on the death penalty, we could better use them to support surviving family members of murder and law enforcement, for drug treatment programs, mental health care, and education–all of which will do more to foster healing in victims families and to prevent more violence in the future than the death penalty ever could.
You can view a clip of the show here.
Photo provided by Kate O’Neill
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