Citizen Times: Opinion: Death penalty too expensive to pursue as deterrent

“It is clear from your coverage that the state is staking too much on the increasingly long odds against Edwardo Wong ever being executed for the murder of Trooper David Shawn Blanton.

This case already has generated many obvious issues to be appealed, including the prosecution’s refusal to let Wong plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.

The district attorney’s position is understandable only from a political standpoint. Public opinion likely favors the death penalty; the trooper’s widow has made it clear that she does.

But those factors need to be weighed against the extraordinary cost of pursuing a death case to its eventual conclusion. As you have reported, 82 percent of death sentences nationally are not carried out. At the end of the day, is society any safer than with a sentence of life without parole in a maximum-security prison?

There is no proof that the death penalty itself is a significant deterrent. Its practical value is to encourage plea bargaining such as the state has spurned in the Wong case.

If the prosecutor’s gamble fails, either in the jury room or in an appeals court, it is the public’s money — not his — that will have been wasted.”

«Death penalty too expensive to pursue as a deterrent

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