More From Candidate Huey P. Smedley
Last week, the big news here was that our local and vocal geezer, Huey P. Smedley, declared himself as a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 election. This week, Smedley expounds on some of his more controversial campaign planks as many readers signaled they needed to hear more of his reasoning behind these proposals.
Abolish the Death Penalty: Although Smedley holds to the principle “that the punishment should fit the crime” – often stated as “an eye for and eye” – due to the vast number of false convictions, too many innocent people have been executed, rendering this ultimate punishment without recourse for correction. The development of DNA as a forensic tool starting in the early 2000’s, has served to uncover that far too many convictions were proven to be false but, these exonerations were, unfortunately, too late for the many who had been executed.
To add to the mounting pile of false convictions derived from faulty evidence gathering techniques, the FBI recently (April 20, 2015) released a study titled, “FBI Testimony on Microscopic Hair Analysis Contained Errors in at Least 90 Percent of Cases in Ongoing Review.” Peter Neufeld, Co-Director of the Innocence Project stated. “These findings confirm that the FBI microscopic hair analysts committed widespread, systematic error, grossly exaggerating the significance of their data under oath with the consequence of unfairly bolstering the prosecutions’ case.” To illustrate how this faulty evidence technique worked its harm, the following excerpt from this study states, “In the 268 cases where examiners (FBI microscopic hair analysts) provided testimony used to inculpate a defendant at trial, erroneous statements were made in 257 (96 percent) of the cases. Defendants in at least 35 of these cases received the death penalty and errors were identified in 33 (94 percent) of those cases. Nine of these defendants have already been executed and five died of other causes while on death row.”
Other evidence methodologies often used by prosecutors that have also been proven to be quite questionable are fiber analysis and eye-witnesse identification. In particular, police lineups have been identified as being problematic as they work – consciously or not – to influence the identifier to choose the police’s choice of prime suspects. A recent study undertaken by the National Academies concluded a problem did exist, “given the increasing number of people convicted with eyewitness testimony who have been subsequently exonerated by DNA evidence. Some 75% of the wrongful convictions for rape and murder, including a number that led to people being scheduled for execution, were based on eyewitness testimony.”
It is unconscionable that an innocent person be put to death for any reason, especially as a result from over-zealous- and occasionally corrupt – police, prosecutors, and judges. (Read John Grisham’s non-fiction book, “An Innocent Man.”) It is equally unconscionable that a man be put to death based on evidence later found to be false. Far better is a sentence that offers an appropriate penalty but also allows for a reversal based on superior evidence uncovered later on. Smedley favors a policy of “Life without Parole” as the appropriate penalty for murder.
Abortion: Smedley revised his stance on this to allow for abortion if the life of the mother is at stake. Otherwise, he is firm on his belief that there is no justification for the taking of an innocent human life. Neither rape nor incest nor ‘inconvenience” gives anyone the right to kill another faultless human being, in the womb or not.
Smedley makes a lot of sense to me.