A 4% Failure Rate


How much of a failure rate would you accept for seat belts? If your seat belt was of a kind that was known to fail approximately 4% of the time, would you be ok with that? What about with an airplane of a variety that was known to crash about 4% of the time? What if there was a wonderful kind of food that, unless it was prepared perfectly, stood a 4% chance of killing you? Actually, to be fair, that exists, and it’s called fugu, and apparently has a death rate of 6.8% for people who eat the sort that’s prepared wrong. So…yeah.

Anyhow, I think we can all agree that, in general, a 4% failure rate is not acceptable in any field, really. Yet it turns out that, according to a new study, about 4% of the people in the United States who are sentenced to death may actually be innocent. Whoops.

Now regardless of where you stand on the issue of the death penalty, I’d like to think that you’d at least want a fairly high level of proof before someone is sentenced to die, and that you’d find a failure rate of even 1% to be unacceptable. But 4%? I don’t see how any person with a conscience can accept a system that would intentionally kill innocent people approximately 4% of the time. That’s insane, if you really believe that’s acceptable, than, frankly, your morals are seriously fucked-up.

Oh, and by the way, for those of you who think life sentences are acceptable, something I’m increasingly against, then you should know that the failure rate for that is likely way, way higher.

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3 Responses to “A 4% Failure Rate”

  1. The Scarecrow Says:

    Speaking as a Canadian, part of your problem is that your judges and DAs and such are all elected – so in order to get and stay in power, they need to find and convict people. Whether they are guilty or not doesn’t matter. Ever hear of Ruben Hurricane Carter? It took a couple of Canadian students to save him from life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.


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