Please keep in mind that this blog often has comments and statements directly from the women on death row. Statements of grief, statements of innocence, statements of regret and sorrow. If bearing audience to these women's feelings, my opinions or those of commenters offends you please do not read on.

Death as a Bargaining Chip

What does it say about the status of American justice when the death penalty is used as nothing more than a bargaining chip?
I was performing my duties as an intern for my local county probation office when I heard a familiar name and went out to check it out.
I found a friend in the hallway about to go to court. She had been arrested for aggravated assault.
The part that puzzled me is that this young woman was at home with her daughter and mother when the other girl showed up. She had called and text messaged her frequently throughout that whole day before finally showing up with two other girls and a small baby in tow.
My friend had no choice but to fight her.
Fight she did. In fact, she beat the brakes off that ol' girl.
So much so, in fact, that when she showed the D.A.'s office the pictures of what my friend had done to her they immediately bound it over to a jury trial.

My friend was devastated. No one could quite understand why she was being tried for aggravated assault when the girl went to her house with back-up and looking for a fight. Her lawyer explained that is how the court works. The courts will bring the highest possible punishment against her to have a bargaining chip to work down from.
This seems really skanky to me but wait...it gets worse.
An Ohio prosecutor made headlines this week for an equally skanked out move. He used death as a bargaining chip.

Within days of a drug-related slaying in suburban Cleveland, six men were indicted on charges that carried the possibility of a death sentence. Six months later, all had been allowed to plead to lesser charges, including four who received probation and never went to prison.

In short, the men quickly went from facing the possibility of being strapped to a gurney and having 5 grams of pentobarbital injected into their veins, to prison sentences more typical for robbers and thieves.

Elsewhere in Ohio, prosecutors are pursuing only the most heinous crimes as death penalty cases and are refusing to plea bargain, or are using a 2005 law that allows them to seek life with no chance of parole and never place capital punishment on the table.

The whole ordeal leaves a bad taste in my mouth and feeling slightly embarrassed for the behavior of those we put in positions of authority in this country.