The Republican
  Wednesday, May 05, 2004

  It's nearly foolproof and it's fatally flawed

  Gov. W. Mitt Romney is prepared to present the Legislature with a 
  plan to fire up Old Sparky with a death penalty bill that is 
  described as infallible as humanly possible, nearly foolproof and 
  almost perfect.

  He believes Massachusetts can resurrect the death penalty using DNA 
  technology and the latest state-of-the-art science to create a higher 
  standard of proof.

  If the state's district attorneys and technicians at the State Police 
  Crime lab read that news over breakfast yesterday, Romney's plan 
  flunked the cereal test.

  Massachusetts has only a handful of people at the crime laboratory 
  trained to perform DNA analysis. For comparison, New York City has 80 
  DNA technicians. District attorneys were told last year they could 
  submit evidence from only one non-murder case each month to the lab 
  in Sudbury for DNA analysis. And when the Legislature - with the 
  enthusiastic support of the district attorneys - included funding 
  last year in its budget for a new Department of Forensic Sciences, 
  the governor vetoed the money.

  The governor's nearly foolproof death penalty isn't foolproof at all. 
  Even if the Legislature provides enough funding to give the state's 
  crime lab the staff and tools it needs, the governor's death penalty 
  plan is fatally flawed.

  Whatever system the governor devises to execute people, it is certain 
  to fail every so often because humans fail every so often. As long as 
  there is a death penalty, the possibility exists that an innocent 
  person will be killed.

  That alone is enough evidence for the Legislature to pull the plug on 
  the governor.

  Romney is the latest of four Republican governors who have tried to 
  reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts; it's almost as if he 
  were expected to give it his best shot. He's done that and we give 
  him points for creativity. However, we hope he fails just as the 
  others failed.

  There is a long history to show that the death penalty is arbitrary 
  and capricious, and no number of DNA tests will change that. It is, 
  as the Supreme Judicial Court noted in 1980, unacceptably cruel under 
  contemporary standards of decency.

  That, governor, is a foolproof argument.