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The Death Penalty


Rod makes the case for Gov. Ryan on NRO today. I was a little surprised to see Rod refer to “the death-penalty convictions of inmates later exonerated by DNA testing” as though there were more than a handful of such cases; perhaps he was misled by the webpage to which he links, which talks about all kinds of convictions later exonerated by DNA testing, not just death-penalty convictions. (The factors mentioned on the linked page, by the way, do not include the ones Rod mentions–e.g., race, geography, class, etc. The way race affects the death penalty is a much-disputed question, and Rod breezes by it way too quickly.) Second, I wonder if he is right to assume, as apparently the governor did too, that the misconduct by police and prosecutors in Illinois in the past is representative of the nation as a whole. A disproportionate number of death-row exonerations (I mean real exonerations, not the phony kind the anti-d.p. people tout) have been in Illinois. Third, what is this “evidence” that Rod says “suggests” that the death penalty has no effect on the murder rate? I’ve seen studies on both sides of that issue, enough to suggest that it’s at least an open question.


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