Thursday, January 23, 2003
What it Means: So what of the Skakel story? Why does it matter? Mainly because, if Kennedy is right and Skakel is innocent, prosecutorial aggressiveness is to blame. Look at it this way: What is the job of the prosecutor? To see that justice is done? No, to win cases! This is why George Ryan shouldn't (entirely) go jump in a lake. Prosecutors looking for a victory got Skakel sent to prison. If I were a betting man, I'd say he gets that overturned on appeal, but there's no guarantee. What if it were a capital case? Kennedy showed me enough reasonable doubt. I'm a long-time death penalty supporter, and one who believes that vengeance alone justifies it -- never mind deterrence. But I'm also liberal enough to realize that, as with anything run by the government, the courts will make mistakes. (Okay, we're not talking about Amtrak or anything, but still...) Plus, prosecutors will be overzealous, juries will be misled by the Johnnie Cochrans of the world, etc. I see enough reasonable doubt built into the system to be a skeptic of the death penalty. But that doesn't mean I'm saying "Free Mumia." If there were no death penalty, there would have to be serious hard time. Serious. No weight room, no cable TV, no exercise yard. Hard work, long hours of it, and bad food to boot. A convicted murderer shouldn't live better than the poorest bastard in Calcutta, but I'm increasingly unable to say he should die.