The New York Times has been touting a study purporting to show that 4 percent of death row inmates have been “falsely convicted.” “Falsely convicted” is not “innocent.” But after being processed through the lawyer-to-journalist telephone game, “insignificant procedural errors” quickly becomes “27 guys didn’t do it!”
What the study actually shows is that those sentenced to death are more likely to have their convictions overturned than those sentenced to prison.
Yeah, we knew that. Anti-death penalty fanatics fight every execution tooth and claw. Sometimes they get lucky. What the statisticians have proved is that it’s very difficult to be executed in this country.
Most of the media cited this pointless study to proclaim that “statistical analysis” proves that 4 percent of people on death row are innocent. They just have to be! And if you disagree, you must hate science.
Whether innocent people have been executed is not a matter that lends itself to statistical analysis. We have the names of every person who has been executed — 1,373 since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
A few dozen lawyers could each take home a stack of case files for the weekend and find the innocent guy — if there were one. But despite years of searching by single-minded zealots, they still don’t have the name of one innocent person executed in at least the last half-century.
Identifying the innocent has lead to embarrassments in the past. In this week’s and next week’s columns, we’ll review the left’s last few poster boys for “innocence.”