In the Todd Willingham case, a fire claimed the lives of three girls who lived in Cameron Todd Willingham’s Corsicana, Texas, house with his wife and other family members bur Willingham lived. Prosecutors then claimed that he purposefully set fire to his house to kill his children; as a result, he was executed (Giannelli, 2019). The case of Cameron Todd Willingham sparks strong opinions on various fronts, but in my view, Texas should have carried out its thorough, expert inquiry before Mr. Willingham’s execution rather than after.
My original instincts about what happened differed from how I felt after watching the video since I genuinely believed he was the murderer, but it turns out that he was unfairly condemned. Because one of the analysts who was later hired to look into the case claimed that the investigators did not comply with the standard of care for fire investigation at the time and that a finding of arson could not be sustained, I firmly believe that the doubts raised by arson experts challenging the initial police report should have cleared Willingham. Given that Willingham’s conviction and execution were founded on faulty research, justice was not done in this instance (Giannelli, 2019). The Hurst report was already in the governor’s office on the day that Willingham was to be executed; thus, the governor should have stepped in to stop it by simply reviewing it.
In my opinion, a prison sentence deters crime just as efficiently as the death penalty. One of the reasons I oppose the death sentence is that it is discriminatory and frequently used on the most defenseless members of society. My personal, political, and moral beliefs also impact my judgment. Given the expense and risk of executing innocent individuals, cases like Willingham’s raise the potential that an innocent person may have been put to death and calls for a moratorium on the death penalty.
Giannelli, P. C. (2019). The execution of Cameron Todd Willingham: Junk science, an innocent man, and the politics of death. SSRN Electronic Journal.