30 November 2003

Politics and the Death Penalty

(1) Cities and localities in Alabama - that's right, ALABAMA - are passing resolutions against the use of the death penalty.

(2) Gov. Mike Rounds (S.D.) on the use of the death penalty:
"You have to be able to make sure that some individuals who would do others great harm are taken out of that position," he says. "Until such time as society can ensure that these people, who have proven their capabilities to kill and maim and rape others, won't try to kill guards, hospital staff, other inmates and so forth, I will continue to support the death penalty."
(3) New Jersey's Legislature is considering a study of the death penalty but it is opposed by the governor:
The governor has not seen the need for a commission or a moratorium because the courts have been aggressive in making sure capital punishment is administered fairly," spokesman Micah Rasmussen said.
(4) Maryland:
Early on in his term, [Lt. Gov.] Michael Steele voiced religious and moral opposition to the death penalty and vowed to create a task force to study issues of racial bias in capital sentencing.

But death penalty opponents tell the Washington Post, Steele's office now rarely returns their phone calls, the task force is nowhere on the horizon, and the racial disparity noted in other death penalty studies isn't being addressed.
(5) Pro-death penalty advocates in NY are upset that no one has been killed by the State yet:
Eight years after the statute went into effect, only seven convicted killers have been condemned to death. And on the automatic appeals of the first two of those men to the state's highest court, the court has set aside those death sentences.
. . .
"We have some Court of Appeals justices that are now involved in technically 'nit-picking' New York's death penalty to death," [State Senator Dale] Volker said. "Justice continues to be delayed and justice continues to be denied."
The NYTimes breaks down the NY appellate court on the issue:
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals overturned a death sentence for the second time, in the case of a Syracuse-area man convicted of killing his wife.
. . .
[T]he bitterly worded 4-2 decision did begin to reveal how the divided judges line up on the issue, one of the most volatile the court has faced in years. Two judges, some death penalty lawyers said, appear committed to capital punishment. Two seem troubled by the law. And two may be willing to let the issue play itself out over many years with case-by-case rulings.
Reminds you of California before the citizens voted the Justices out of office.

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