"How Many Innocent People Must We Execute?"

Following U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf's opinion in the federal capital prosecution of Gary Lee Sampson expressing his reservations about the risks of executing the innocent (click here for article), the Buffalo News raised similar concerns in a recent editorial:

[T]he question is how many innocent people must we execute - or threaten to execute - before acknowledging that the death penalty cannot be made to work?
. . .
Perhaps the reason more Americans have failed to locate their indignation over this disgraceful fact is that this time the crime is within ourselves. It's easy to become outraged at someone else's brutality, but not so simple when the failure lies within our own commitment to a practice that we know does not - and more to the point, cannot - work fairly.
Witness identifications are often wrong. Defense lawyers fall asleep. Police and prosecutors withhold evidence. The litany of problems describes nothing less than the everyday defects of human nature, and while humans are ingenious creatures who can overcome many challenges, they cannot overcome themselves.
Indeed, human nature is a problem any time any law is implemented, but this law doesn't simply imprison innocent people, it kills them. Just not enough of them, yet, for many of us to loosen our grip on it.

(Buffalo News, August 21, 2003) See Innocence.