Jeffrey Deutsch responds to my post “Execution is Proof of Guilt in Texas”:


I’m a staunch pro-death penalty advocate. I can’t speak for others, but I for one support every effort to follow up innocence possibilities for any convict, even one who has already been executed.

Among other considerations, how can people be expected to trust prosecutors, police or other officials who cover up evidence showing that someone who was executed wrongly?

I care about innocent people being convicted, whether of a traffic infraction, misdemeanor, felony or capital crime. Of course, I care in direct proportion to the severity of the potential punishment.

Furthermore, capital punishment especially requires a degree of public confidence that it will be applied to as few innocent people as humanly possible. Zero innocent victims is not compatible with any human, and necessarily imperfect, institution, but we need to do our best – and be seen to do our best – to save as many innocent people as possible. Otherwise, we jeopardize capital punishment itself.

Last but not least, I also care about the truth. Only in rare circumstances should officials lie or suppress the truth. To the contrary, investigation of the possibility that someone who was convicted and executed for a murder really was innocent is every reason to find the truth and proclaim it – whatever it may be – from the rooftops.

Jeff Deutsch

Jeff, I disagree with your conclusions, but I appreciate the comment, as well as the lack of anonymity. Too many use anonymous commenting on blogs as a way to vent without opening themselves up to any scrutiny or critical response.

Actually, your post fascinates me in some ways. When I say I disagree, I mean more precisely, that I agree with almost everything you write except for the first sentence about being staunchly pro-death penalty. Especially given the rest of it.

We know that police and prosecutors have indeed covered up or hidden Brady material, i.e., evidence that tends to exonerate a defendant. Yes, it may be rare, but you point out that it makes us distrust ‘the system’.

You care “in direct proportion to the severity of the punishment”. Me too. Frankly, I can’t make myself get all worked up when someone is wrongly accused of speeding. It shouldn’t happen, and it’s a shame, but frankly, you were probably speeding five minutes before you got the ticket, or yesterday, and even if you’re the one person on earth who has never sped, it’s ‘only a traffic ticket’.

But then, if you care in direct proportion to the punishment, you have to care the most about capital punishment.

From a logical perspective, I appreciate that you acknowledged that support of the death penalty means accepting that some innocent accused will be put to death or perhaps more fairly ‘murdered by the state’. I’m not being a smart-alec here. Many death penalty supporters insist the innocent have never been executed.

That’s a ludicrous position and you don’t try to make it. Humans err, death penalty trials are abundantly human; death penalty advocates should accept that there is an error rate, even if the exact rate is unknowable. That doesn’t make it 0%.

I just don’t understand, given the premises, how someone with your views can be staunchly pro-death.

Why is it so important to put people to death in the first place?