Tuesday, January 03, 2006

While visiting Mr. Free Cory Maye, I read his opinion that public support for the death penalty would drop were it ever shown that a truly innocent person had been executed...

Me wonders if he's right... as there are plenty of times where someone loses their life through government action and which doesn't trigger a complete collapse of support for the program at fault. Cops shoot the wrong people... and the public still supports law enforcement. Kids die at the hands of abusive foster parents... yet there's no demand to get rid of the foster parents program. The military occasionally inflicts collateral damage... yet that has never been associated with a drop in support for our military. The FDA approves drugs which turn out to be fatal for some people... yet the public still supports regulation of drugs.

And the reason the public still supports these programs - even though they're not perfect - is because the public assumes there is more good than bad associated with the program. After all, when it comes to government work, who really truly expects them to get it right every time, all the time?

And I think the same standards would apply to the death penalty. Support for the death penalty is not contingent upon it being shown as 100% free from error, people support it because they think it does more good than bad... and finding out that someone, somewhere, sometime might have executed for a crime they didn't commit, well, it's not going to change the equation for me... or, I suspect, for very many other people either.