Filed under: Crime
Everybody (or at least Publius and Megan McArdle and a million or so other crazy hippies) is all up in arms about how Texas Governor Rick Perry has abruptly fired half the members of a review panel that was just about to examine whether or not Todd Willingham, who Texas executed in 2004, was actually innocent. And it appears increasingly likely that anyone who recognizes that the Grateful Dead symbol is not actually a Satanic cult call sign will find that he was.
Well, okay — say the guy was innocent, and Texas put an innocent guy to death this one time. And let’s even grant that it’s not the only case. In fact, imagine for the sake of argument that 50 percent of the people Texas puts to death were innocent. Texas executed 423 people between 1982 and 2008, so let’s call it 212 innocent people killed by the state. Now, look at all the time, effort and money being spent on trying to get Texas to reform or eliminate its death penalty practices. It must be millions of dollars, not to mention all the media attention. If all that money were being devoted to ending malaria in Africa, isn’t it obvious that it would save thousands and thousands of innocent lives?
Clearly Texas Governor Rick Perry is right that this use of resources is wasteful and that there are better ways for public officials to be spending taxpayer money right now than re-examining whether or not Todd Willingham actually committed murder, or whether he was just a poor guy who first went through the horrible tragedy of having his three beloved daughters die in a fire and then had his name smeared and was killed by the government for no damn reason at all. And I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that Rick Perry’s name is the one on the execution order.
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