Gary Leon Ridgway may not be a household name, but the infamous Green River Killer is one of the most accomplished serial murderers in U.S. history. In 2003, Ridgway confessed 48 accounts of aggravated first degree murder (more confirmed murders than any other American serial killer) during a two-and-a-half-year period in the early 1980s near Seattle, although it is believed he slaughtered even more. The majority of his victims were runaway teenage girls and hookers whom he picked up on the interstate and strangled to death. But Ridgway was spared the death penalty as part of a plea bargain three years ago, in exchange for his assistance in leading investigators to his victim's remains and revealing other information to help "bring closure" to the grieving families ("Green River Killer Avoids Death in Plea Deal").
Despite overwhelming national approval of it, deliberation over the death penalty in America has been dominated by the devious voices of the petite but vocal death penalty opposition, and aided heavily by the leftist groups like the NAACP, ACLU, and Amnesty International. Their deceitful repertoire of lies and half-truths has been echoed for so long, that many of these fallacies have eventually been regarded as fact in the mainstream, and even among death penalty advocates. The institution has been falsely accused of inaccuracy, ineffectiveness, and racism. And as the only course of action capable of adequately displaying our outrage and disgust at the savage destruction of innocent life, the death penalty deserves a defense.
"Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that capital punishment is not `cruel and unusual,' 618 prisoners have been executed across the nation and about 80 have been exonerated. Those disturbing odds beg the question: If the chances of executing an innocent person are so high, should we have capital punishment?" (ABCNews.com). We no longer live in a Nuremberg Trial-era where a man can be hanged in the town square by an angry mob when suspected of ogling the Sherriff's daughter. Suspects are innocent until proven guilty, and the law requires the prosecution to bear the intricate burden of proof beyond all reasonable doubt for conviction - which does not, in and of itself, beget the death penalty. Only around one percent of convicted murderers are sentenced to death, and even fewer are actually executed (Death Penalty Information Center).
The majority of the above exonerations have eventuated on political grounds - such as a request by the Pope, (Bill Clinton's) presidential pardons, and so on - not necessarily because evidence emerged of the inmate's innocence. Nevertheless, no human process boasts perfection, including that of law enforcement in general; and the potential shortcomings of the death penalty are worthy of acknowledgement. So long as we engage flesh-and-blood judges and jurors, occasionally unsound conclusions may be drawn, inaccurate interpretations or presentations...