EDITORIAL: End the executions

Almost buried in the political rhetoric surrounding the execution last week of Gary Graham in Texas was a message we should not ignore: For the sake of justice, the United States must rescind the death penalty.

Whatever your personal convictions about the sanctity of life, the issue before this nation is the fallibility of an all too human American justice system. Graham may have been guilty of the murder of which he was convicted. That his conviction was rooted in the testimony of a single witness is less than reassuring. But what is inarguable is that, in the name of justice, we have put to death at least 22 ?murderers? who were later found to be innocent.

Earlier this year, Illinois Gov. George Ryan, a death penalty supporter, issued a moratorium on all executions after 13 wrongfully convicted men were released from Illinois? death row. Since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, 87 people have been set free after being sentenced to die for crimes they did not commit.

Convicted murders should be punished, of course. Life in prison without the prospect of parole is sufficient punishment?while still offering hope for exoneration in those cases where the justice system has erred or will err.

Continuing the death penalty means one thing: Our society cares more about retribution than justice.

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