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You Bet Your Life!

How We Can learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Death Penalty

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Du Page County state's attorney Joe Birkett, who's running for the Republican nomination for state attorney general in next spring's primary, doesn't care for Governor Ryan's moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois. Months before announcing his candidacy, he told ABC's Nightline, "I believe that the system of capital punishment in this country works remarkably well, and I believe it is a system worth preserving. And that the risk of error--that being the execution of an innocent person--is so minimal to almost nonexistent that it is not worth scrapping the entire system because of that alleged risk."

How can the rest of us acquire the same confidence in the system? We need a policy that combines a conservative emphasis on personal responsibility, a liberal emphasis on the value of life, a religious emphasis on the Golden Rule, and a libertarian emphasis on having a self-enforcing system with a minimum of bureaucratic nonsense. How about this: Any prosecutor who sends an innocent person to death row would be required to take that person's place.

If there's really no problem now, Birkett should be happy with this policy

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