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Is eyewitness testimony ever a basis for capital punishment?

While reading Dave Cullen's "Columbine," I came across a passage describing the problems with eyewitness accounts. The author is talking about the Columbine shootings, of course, but all I could think about was the Troy Davis trial and the role that eyewitness testimony had in his conviction.

Here is the passage:
"'Eyewitness testimony, in general, is not very accurate,' one investigator explained...'what they remember now may not be anywhere near what really happened.' Human memory can be erratic. We tend to record fragments: gunshots, explosions, trench coats, terror, sirens, screams. Images come back jumbled, but we crave coherence, so we trim them, adjust details, and assemble everything together in a story that makes sense....It happens even with the best witnesses."
- "Columbine," Dave Cullen, p. 205

We have all debated capital punishment before. What I'd like us to consider is, IF capital punishment is legal, what evidence should be required to send someone to death? Is sufficient eyewitness testimony enough? Should we require DNA evidence? Something else? Should there be consistent guidelines, or does the nature of the world mean that every capital case could have a different standard of proof for "decisive guilt?"

I'm looking just for your opinion, whatever it is. Thanks.

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    Sep 28 2011: Not being specific to Capital Punishment or specific to any country legislative & judiciary systme in place, what I feel we need more fundamental changes in the whole system.

    Money & power talks everywhere (will be happy to be proven wrong)...... that's the situation
  • Sep 28 2011: I think the case for a capital offense would need to be strong and have more than just the testimony of one man against another, although testimony as evidence should not be discounted.

    As for death sentences, I think they are needed, but perhaps there should be alternatives. Donating organs should be offered to death row inmates. A lifetime of anonymous service to the poor, such as an unpaid food producer, firefighter, disaster clean-up, infirm inmate care-giver or similar function where human contact other than jailers was not permitted. Almost a humanly treated public slave.

    If death is to be the sentence, it should be swiftly and not burden society with long-term care expenses.
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    Sep 28 2011: NEVER. The research is clear and it is copious. People can really believe that the person they saw is the one they pointed out and who was accused. Memory, however, is very faulty and eye witness testimony MUST be corroborated by scientific and factual evidence to have any merit whatsoever. There is no doubt about this.
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    Sep 28 2011: I believe capital punishment is unethical in the first place, how can you judge if another human deserves to die? Wouldn't killing them make you at their level? But, I do think using an eyewitness as the only evidence is inaccurate in a way but also we do have to acknowledge the possibility of truth. Well, that's my opinion, not being an expert or anything.