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A Matter Of Opinion

Thu., Aug. 14, 2008, 9:46 a.m.

Lessons from Duncan

Today's editorial expounds the reasons pursuing the death penalty is unwise, but they have little to do with how undeniably heinous Joseph Duncan's crime was.

Justice, closure and catharsis are often cited as reasons to pursue executions, but death-penalty cases necessarily delay the payoffs because the courts must be sure that errors didn't lead to such an irreversible punishment. The time and expense are enormous. That's why the state of Idaho has executed only one person since the death penalty was reinstated 35 years ago. The federal government has executed three people since Congress reinstituted the penalty in 1988.

Meanwhile, victims who try to move on with their lives are involved in decades-long sentencing and appeal processes which continue to raise shadows of the past. We hope the end of this phase of Shasta Groene's ordeal is in sight.

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