You don’t have to be an opponent of capital punishment to see how terribly wrong this is:
Billy Slagle … was sentenced to death for a crime he committed at 18, when there was no option for LWPOR [Life Without The Possibility of Release]. The chief prosecutor for Ohio, Ted McGinty, recommended to the parole board that he shouldn’t be executed, which is pretty extraordinary. In yet another surprising twist, given that parole boards and Governors usually do whatever prosecutors tell them to, both the board and the Governor’s office rejected his plea for clemency and continued on with the death sentence. Three days before his scheduled execution, early Sunday morning, Slagle said “enough” and hung himself. 44 years old, having spent the last 26 years in jail, he took his own way out.
That’s bad enough as it is, but then there is this:
County prosecutors had offered Slagle a plea deal at his original trial 26 years ago. If he pleaded guilty, he would serve 30 years and be eligible for parole. However, Slagle’s attorneys at the time did not inform him of the deal; instead, he received the death penalty. … Billy Slagle died without ever knowing that he was offered a plea deal of 30 years. Billy Slagle died without ever knowing that there was a good chance that he’d have to hang on for just another four, or ten. (source)
Even if you believe in capital punishment – which you shouldn’t – there’s no way you can call the actual application of this punishment in the U.S. a system of justice: there’s no justice when your race or the quality of your defense team decide whether or not you live.
More posts in this series are here.