The Republican
  Sunday, July 17, 2005

  No guarantees in life - or in death penalty

  Gov. W. Mitt Romney told lawmakers Thursday that his proposal to 
  reinstate the death penalty comes with a guarantee that no innocent 
  person would ever be executed in Massachusetts if his bill becomes 

  "This is as foolproof a death penalty as exists, and you will not 
  have false convictions and false executions under this bill," the 
  governor told the Judiciary Committee. "This won't happen."

  If lawmakers believe that, we've got a tunnel in Boston we could 
  sell them.

  Since 1973, 119 convicted murderers in 25 states have been freed 
  after evidence surfaced that they had been wrongly convicted, 
  according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

  Earlier this month, a prosecutor in Missouri said she will reopen 
  the case of convicted murderer Larry Griffin after receiving 
  evidence of his possible innocence - 10 years after he was executed 
  by lethal injection.

  Romney believes his bill has safeguards to prevent such mistakes, 
  including a requirement for conclusive scientific evidence such as 
  DNA analysis.

  The death penalty, however, can never be made foolproof, as Romney 
  later acknowledged when pressed by lawmakers.

  A commission created by George Ryan when he was governor of Illinois 
  concluded in 2002 that "no system, given human nature and frailties, 
  could ever be devised or constructed that would work perfectly and 
  guarantee absolutely that no innocent person is ever again sentenced 
  to death."

  Two years ago, Romney vetoed funds approved by the Legislature to 
  create a Department of Forensic Sciences - just the type of 
  department that would be necessary to provide the strict burden of 
  proof that the governor promises in his bill.

  In addition, the state's crime laboratory, medical examiner's office 
  and local police departments are not funded at the levels needed to 
  ensure that only the guilty are executed.

  This newspaper has long opposed the death penalty, and will continue 
  to speak out against it each time an attempt is made to reinstate it 
  in Massachusetts. The death penalty does not deter violent crime; it 
  unfairly targets blacks and other minorities, and it relies on a 
  judicial system that, while the best in the world, is not perfect.

  There are no guarantees in life - or in the death penalty.