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Reader: There are two sides to the death penalty




Perhaps Laura Eurich's confusion over the advisability of supporting the death penalty ("Faced with the Death Sentence," SemiNative, May 9) might be relieved by the following facts.

Statistical studies by reputable researchers suggest that a 4.1 percent wrongful conviction rate in capital cases is a conservative estimate. The most recent U.S. Bureau of Justice assessment (2016) lists 2,814 people on death rows in the United States. One hundred fifteen of these, then, are wrongly convicted. The chances that their wrongful convictions will be overturned before they are executed are slim.

My late brother-in-law was convicted of murder, rape, arson and robbery back in the 1970s. His conviction was overturned by the Colorado Court of Appeals, but reinstated by the Colorado Supreme Court on the grounds that the Constitution guaranteed "a fair trial, not a perfect trial." Fortunately, Colorado had no death penalty at that time, so my brother-in-law was not executed. Not only I, but a great many people, including judges, attorneys and clergy, are convinced that he was wrongly convicted in the first place.

Indeed, we cannot guarantee perfection in any human activity. If Ms. Eurich is comfortable with a 96 percent chance that the prosecution's case is legitimate and has been proved, then she should be comfortable voting for a death penalty conviction. If she is not comfortable with that margin of error, then she should no longer support the death penalty.

— Malcolm McCollum, Colorado Springs

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