The Death Penalty Is Barbaric And Ineffective | Laura Finley

October 10 was World Day Against the Death Penalty. That the U.S. continues to use this broken and antiquated system of (in)justice is reprehensive in so many ways, but among the most important is the issue of sentencing people to death row wrongfully and executing people who did not commit the offenses that resulted in those sentences.

As a Floridian, I am highlighting here the case of James Daily. Not because Florida is the only state in which the system is frequently wrong, but in the hopes that his very legitimate claims of innocence may be heard by others who can help save a life.

James Dailey is a Vietnam War veteran who served three tours there and one in Korea. If the state goes forward with his execution, currently scheduled for Nov. 7, he would be Florida’s 100th executed person since executions restarted in the 1970s.

Dailey has spent more than 30 years on death row for a murder he did not commit, and despite there being no eyewitnesses or physical evidence tying him to the murder. In fact, the physical evidence, a hair found in the victim’s hand, already excludes Mr. Dailey from having committed the offense.

The true killer, co-defendant Jack Pearcy, has signed an affidavit swearing that he actually committed the murder. Pearcy failed a polygraph pre-trial and told inmates and several correctional institutional officers that he did it. He has a history of violence, particularly against women.

Further, police reports from the 1985 crime show that Mr. Pearcy left his home with the victim shortly before the murder and James Dailey was not with them, yet this information was withheld from jurors.

As is too often the case, the prosecutors used an unreliable and uncorroborated snitch/informant to build the case against Dailey. After the state initially failed to secure a death sentence against Pearcy, law enforcement went to the jail, pulled every man from Dailey’s pod, showed them coverage of the case and offered them leniency in their cases if they could “help.” Only then did someone say Dailey did it. Paul Skalnik was a known child sexual offender but charges in his pending case were dropped due to his testimony against Dailey. He was released and went on to commit another sexual offense against a child in Texas, where he is currently incarcerated.

The prosecutor in the case has since said she would never use Skalnik again because she had no evidence that his testimony was truthful.

This case highlights so much of what goes wrong in capital cases. Use of problematic witnesses, police and prosecutorial misconduct and jailhouse snitches are frequently factors in exonerations. At this point, Florida leads the nation in getting it wrong — for every three executions, one person is exonerated.

It is way past time that Florida, and the remaining death penalty retentionist states, discontinue this barbaric and ineffective practice.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., syndicated by PeaceVoice, teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology.

More in Opinion

Today’s cartoon for Wednesday, Nov. 20

Today’s cartoon is by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News.… Continue reading

Celebrating Peace: A Work in Progress | Robert C. Koehler

Veterans For Peace, an organization that speaks truth to war like nobody… Continue reading

King Tides highlight need for action on climate change | Letter to the editor

To the editor: As someone who has spent the better part of… Continue reading

Press city to support race and equity effort | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Our city council will soon decide how to act… Continue reading

Help get more AEDs where they’re needed | Letter to the editor

To the editor: My husband and I recently joined 18 other community-minded… Continue reading

Today’s cartoon for Tuesday, Nov. 19

Today’s cartoon is by Bob Englehart, Middletown, Connecticut.… Continue reading

Cross-generational Power To Change | Tom H. Hastings

Greta Thunberg was just a little girl in Sweden who learned about… Continue reading

Getting Rid of Treacherous Friends | Mel Gurtov

Backing the wrong horse, again The United States has a long record… Continue reading

Impeachment Hearings are a Lose-Lose Proposition | Rich Manieri

I’m not sure who to believe anymore. House Intelligence Committee Chairman, and… Continue reading

Most Read