John McAdams, a rightwing poli sci prof at Marquette University, has an article in the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute's magazine Wisconsin Interest titled "Wisconsin should have the death penalty."
As one expects from anything connected with the WPRI, this paper is full of holes. If time allows, the Brawler will return to them. But this particular passage, purportedly refuting the argument by death penalty opponents that the state might wrongfull execute someone, sticks out:
...Death penalty opponents will argue that it doesn't matter if [the number of innocents on death row is] inflated. Any innocent people on death row, or even one innocent person executed, they airily reply, it's "too many." But most public policies have some negative consequences, and indeed often these involve the death of innocent people -- something that can't be shown to have happened with the death penalty in the modern era. Just wars kill a certain number of noncombatants. When the FDA approves a new drug, some people will quite likely be killed by arcane and infrequent reactions. The magnitude of these consequences matters. The public, in fact, seems to get this.
John: Countries -- unless they're led by George Bush -- only go to war reluctantly and with great reason because of the reason you cite. People who get killed by taking a new drug are warned they face dangerous side effects. They take the drug voluntarily. How you can compare that situation to someone being wrongly thrown into death row I have no idea.
This does call to mind a passage from the gospels.
The disciples asked, "Teacher, shall the state administer the death penalty even if it's unknown whether it works and innocents may die?" And Jesus said, "Yea, verily, one must break some eggs if he wants to make an omelet."