Underscoring the Boston Bar Association's long-standing opposition to the death penalty, BBA President-Elect Edward P. Leibensperger last month testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, urging the defeat of all bills related to reinstating capital punishment in Massachusetts.
In his testimony, Leibensperger made these and other points:
- Because mistakes are inherent not only in our justice system, but in our forensics laboratories as well, any system of capital punishment has the potential to result in the wrongful conviction and execution of innocent people.
- Trial lawyers know that if they try the same case twice before two different juries and two different judges, the results will not necessarily be the same, and the implications for capital punishment are frightening.
- Given the current crisis our courts are facing because of a shortage of qualified attorneys to represent indigent criminal defendants, today the potential for inadequate representation by counsel is even greater.
- There is no such thing as a "fail-safe death penalty."
- Racial disparities in the administration of capital punishment are significant, with minority defendants far more likely than their white counterparts to end up on death row.
- Capital punishment does not deter violent crime.
- Appropriate prison sentences should be used to punish and deter those who kill.
- Reinstating the death penalty will serve only to distract our leaders and impede progress in developing constructive policies offering comprehensive improvement of our justice system.