Change the standard of proof in death penalty cases in Texas to no doubt

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Throughout the United States, Texas is the leading state in the use of capital punishment. Sadly, as revealed by DNA testing, it has become clear that a number of the individuals who were sentenced are innocent.

Today, the standard of proof utilized in order to determine the guilt of the defendant, like any other crime, is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. While not perfect, this standard of proof allows for minimal judicial mistakes. However, there is a fundamental difference between sending people to prison for life, and ending a life. If twenty years down the line, it is revealed that the defendant did not actually commit the crime, he or she can be released from prison. While the egregiousness of spending such a long time in prison is very real, it is incomparable to loss of life. This is a mistake that the judiciary cannot fix.

Thus, in order to prevent the execution of potentially innocent people, it is necessary to change the standard of proof. If any doubt exists as to the guilt of the defendant, then capital punishment should not be utilized. Humans are not infallible, witnesses make mistakes, evidence gets misinterpreted. If doubt subsists during deliberation, we risk an innocent individual being put to death.



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