Raise the Bar on the Death Penalty Act

From “Beyond a Reasonable...” to “Virtually No Doubt

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primary topic: Criminal Justice
secondary topics: Crime Reduction, Deficit (Costs), Equality, Legal System


When I was well into my twenties my parents finally told me how close I had come to John Wayne Gacy as a teen. JWG was a general contractor in Chicago, and my father was a designer who frequently used GCs to run construction jobs.

JWG would occasionally bid on my dad’s upcoming projects, and he offered to have me intern with his construction team. Thankfully, my parents were overly protective. For those of you who don’t know, JWG was one of the worst serial killers in history, he especially “liked” young boys. There was no doubt of his guilt.

As much as I know the death penalty to be morally wrong, cruel, and not in keeping with civil society—I believe there is a place for the death penalty for heinous, premeditated murder in the first degree—when there is virtually no doubt of guilt.

I believe the death penalty is a deterrent. However, the current costs to society in time and effort of appeals is not something this country can afford. And many of the trials of those on death row appear, in retrospect, sloppy and un-American in their unfairness. That standard might be acceptable for life in prison, but it doesn’t seem justifiable for putting someone to the death.

This bill proposes not an end to the death penalty but raising the standard from beyond a reasonable doubt, to virtually no doubt. Eyewitnesses are inherently doubtful. Evidence can be mishandled. The “Virtually No Doubt” measurable standards will have to be worked through by attorneys and judges. The devil is certainly in the details, but it will greatly reduce the use of capital punishment.

There needs to be a clear message sent to those who are planning a capital crime—what goes around comes around. But, recent high profile murder cases would seem to have not met the standard of “Virtually No Doubt”, and that is not an example of how a greater nation should act.


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