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What if you felt confident that DNA evidence and other newly developed criminal technologies helped to improve accuracy in convictions?

Many people worry about the irrevocability of the death sentence. If a wrongful conviction is discovered after the sentence has been administered, nothing can be done to correct it.

DNA graphic

Proponents of the death penalty argue that DNA evidence and other newly developed criminal technologies can help to ensure that innocent people are not executed. Since forensic DNA testing was introduced in the late 1980s, at least 88 people in the United States have been exonerated through the tests [as of May 2001]. The role of DNA is expanding. Tiny samples from bodily fluids or hair can be amplified through new techniques replicating the DNA, and robotic devices and expansive databases are helping to further improve the process.

Though some are concerned that DNA evidence is not 100 percent reliable or accessible, death penalty supporters cite the risks associated with waiting for a perfect system before implementing capital punishment.

Josh Marquis, president of the Oregon District Attorneys' Association and a board member of the National District Attorneys' Association, said recently on NPR, "There have been 80 exonerations — and using that word very broadly, because some of those people are not factually innocent, but there's sufficient question about their guilt — out of half a million murders. An error rate of 80 out of half a million is — it would be the envy of the medical profession, the pharmaceutical profession, or certainly it's a heck of a lot safer than probably getting on an airplane."

And while no one wants to see an innocent person executed, many people feel that it is unacceptable for violent murderers to avoid the death penalty because of the fear of executing an innocent person.

"But trembling or not, we have a duty to carry out. A duty to proclaim that murder is evil and will not be tolerated. That it is the worst of all crimes and deserves the worst of all punishments. And that while we will bend over backward not to hurt the innocent, we will not let that paralyze us from punishing the guilty."
—Jeff Jacoby, columnist for The Boston Globe

Considering this, do you think the death penalty should be used
as a form of punishment for those convicted of taking a life?
YES  |  NO