There is no proof that any innocent person has actually been executed since increased safeguards and appeals were added to our death penalty system in the 1970s. Even if such executions have occurred, they are very rare. Imprisoning innocent people is also wrong, but we cannot empty the prisons because of that minimal risk. If improvements are needed in the system of representation, or in the use of scientific evidence such as DNA testing, then those reforms should be instituted. However, the need for reform is not a reason to abolish the death penalty.
Besides, many of the claims of innocence by those who have been released from death row are actually based on legal technicalities. Just because someone's conviction is overturned years later and the prosecutor decides not to retry him, does not mean he is actually innocent.
If it can be shown that someone is innocent,
surely a governor would grant clemency and spare the person. Hypothetical
claims of innocence are usually just delaying tactics to put off the execution
as long as possible. Given our thorough system of appeals through numerous
state and federal courts, the execution of an innocent individual today
is almost impossible. Even the theoretical execution of an innocent person
can be justified because the death penalty saves lives by deterring other