FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Death Penalty is Barbaric and Ineffective

October 10 is World Day Against the Death Penalty. That the U.S. continues to use this broken and antiquated system of (in)justice is reprehensive in so many ways, but among the most important is the issue of sentencing people to death row wrongfully and executing people who did not commit the offenses that resulted in those sentences. As a Floridian, I am highlighting here the case of James Daily. Not because Florida is the only state in which the system is frequently wrong, but in the hopes that his very legitimate claims of innocence may be heard by others who can help save a life.

James Dailey is a Vietnam War veteran who served three tours there and one in Korea. If the state goes forward with his execution, currently scheduled for November 7, he would be Florida’s 100th executed person since executions restarted in the 1970s. Dailey has spent more than 30 years on death row for a murder he did not commit, and despite there being no eyewitnesses or physical evidence tying him to the murder. In fact, the physical evidence, a hair found in the victim’s hand, already excludes Mr. Dailey from having committed the offense. The true killer, co-defendant Jack Pearcy, has signed an affidavit swearing that he actually committed the murder. Pearcy failed a polygraph pre-trial and told inmates and several correctional institutional officers that he did it. He has a history of violence, particularly against women. Further, police reports from the 1985 crime show that Mr. Pearcy left his home with the victim shortly before the murder and James Dailey was not with them, yet this information was withheld from jurors.

As is too often the case, the prosecutors used an unreliable and uncorroborated snitch/informant to build the case against Dailey. After the state initially failed to secure a death sentence against Pearcy, law enforcement went to the jail, pulled every man from Dailey’s pod, showed them coverage of the case and offered them leniency in their cases if they could “help.” Only then did someone say Dailey did it. Paul Skalnik was a known child sexual offender but charges in his pending case were dropped due to his testimony against Dailey. He was released and went on to commit another sexual offense against a child in Texas, where he is currently incarcerated. The prosecutor in the case has since said she would never use Skalnik again because she had no evidence that his testimony was truthful.

This case highlights so much of what goes wrong in capital cases. Use of problematic witnesses, police and prosecutorial misconduct and jailhouse snitches are frequently factors in exonerations. At this point, Florida leads the nation in getting it wrong—for every three executions, one person is exonerated.

It is way past time that Florida, and the remaining death penalty retentionist states, discontinue this barbaric and ineffective practice.

More articles by:

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
November 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Frankenstein Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane
Jonathan Steele
The OPCW and Douma: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Accused of Evidence-Tampering by Its Own Inspectors
Kathleen Wallace
A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia
Andrew Levine
Get Trump First, But Then…
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s Democratic Critics Want it Both Ways on Biden, Clinton
Ipek S. Burnett
The United States Needs Citizens Like You, Dreamer
Michael Welton
Fundamentalism as Speechlessness
David Rosen
A Century of Prohibition
Nino Pagliccia
Morales: Bolivia Suffers an Assault on the Power of the People
Dave Lindorff
When an Elected Government Falls in South America, as in Bolivia, Look For a US Role
John Grant
Drones, Guns and Abject Heroes in America
Clark T. Scott
Bolivia and the Loud Silence
Manuel García, Jr.
The Truthiest Reality of Global Warming
Ramzy Baroud
A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
Charles McKelvey
The USA “Defends” Its Blockade, and Cuba Responds
Louis Proyect
Noel Ignatiev: Remembering a Comrade and a Friend
John W. Whitehead
Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded
Patrick Bond
As Brazil’s ex-President Lula is Set Free and BRICS Leaders Summit, What Lessons From the Workers Party for Fighting Global Neoliberalism?
Alexandra Early
Labor Opponents of Single Payer Don’t  Speak For Low Wage Union Members
Pete Dolack
Resisting Misleading Narratives About Pacifica Radio
Edward Hunt
It’s Still Not Too Late for Rojava
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Why Aren’t Americans Rising up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?
Nicolas Lalaguna
Voting on the Future of Life on Earth
Jill Richardson
The EPA’s War on Science Continues
Lawrence Davidson
The Problem of Localized Ethics
Richard Hardigan
Europe’s Shameful Treatment of Refugees: Fire in Greek Camp Highlights Appalling Conditions
Judith Deutsch
Permanent War: the Drive to Emasculate
David Swanson
Why War Deaths Increase After Wars
Raouf Halaby
94 Well-Lived Years and the $27 Traffic Fine
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Coups-for-Green-Energy Added to Wars-For-Oil
Andrea Flynn
What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Health Care
Negin Owliaei
Time for a Billionaire Ban
Binoy Kampmark
Business as Usual: Evo Morales and the Coup Condition
Bernard Marszalek
Toward a Counterculture of Rebellion
Brian Horejsi
The Benefits of Environmental Citizenship
Brian Cloughley
All That Gunsmoke
Graham Peebles
Why is there so Much Wrong in Our Society?
Jonah Raskin
Black, Blue, Jazzy and Beat Down to His Bones: Being Bob Kaufman
John Kendall Hawkins
Treason as a Lifestyle: I’ll Drink to That
Manuel García, Jr.
Heartrending Antiwar Songs
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Poetry and Political Struggle: The Dialectics of Rhyme
Ben Terrall
The Rise of Silicon Valley
David Yearsley
Performance Anxiety
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail