Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Alabama Death Row inmates don't get lawyers

Travesty of the day:

Nobody much likes the fact that Alabama does not provide indigent death row inmates with lawyers.

''Perhaps, in a perfect world, every inmate would have a lawyer at the ready at all times,'' the state's attorney general told a federal appeals court in a brief defending the practice last year. ''But we live in the real world.''

Three judges on that court, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, also made sympathetic remarks about a utopian alternate reality in which prisoners about to be executed might actually be provided with lawyers.

''If we lived in a perfect world, which we do not, we would like to see the inmates obtain the relief they seek,'' Judge Joel F. Dubina wrote. The court unanimously rejected a class action suit from inmates asking for lawyers.

Not every bad idea is unconstitutional, the state and the judges said, and Alabama -- the only state that refuses to provide indigent death row inmates with lawyers -- should be able to go it alone in this area even at the risk of executing the unjustly convicted or the innocent.

If you can't read the article because of NYT's subscription wall, there's a good discussion at Feministe. Here's my solution: abolish the death penalty. Then you won't have to worry about providing death row inmates with lawyers, because there won't be any.

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