03
Feb
09

Capitol Punishment: a Time for Judgment

Both during the Primary and General Elections, I pushed not just President Obama and Senator McCain, but all the candidates I could contact regarding their views on “Capitol Punishment”.  Needless to say, never a response on this issue was given; where today we have one in one-hundred fellow citizens behind prison bars (not all for execution).

Capitol Punishment is an important issue, since I’m a firm believer in the “rule of Law”, meaning we, at one time (before Bush) had the fairest and most just legal systems in the world.  But our legal system needs updating!

Not necessarily the laws, but more so the technological aspects of the system.  With the advent of DNA testing and the results that have been surprisingly uncovered; just in the last five years, our country has unlocked the cell doors of dozens of convicted individuals that were found to be wrongly imprisoned.

A moratorium, as what happened in 1969, should be established, until, in not all cases, but cases where DNA testing can be implemented to insure proper judgment, based on DNA results the existing facts of the case in question are reestablished.

Personally, I’m for capitol punishment in some cases, which are:

  • Treason
  • Desertion in battle, at the time of war
  • Genocide
  • Serial murders

Other than the aforementioned four, no, I’m not in favor of the death sentence.

So, what brought this to my attention again?  An online article published by TIME.com entitled: “The Tide Shifting Against the Death Penalty” authored by Richard Lacayo.  Below are excerpts from this article, which I have high lighted, and feel are of interest:

If there were such a thing as a golden age of capital punishment in America, it peaked in 1999. There were 98 executions in the U.S. that year, the highest number since 1976, when the Supreme Court, which had overturned all death penalty laws in 1972, began approving them again.

A decade later, capital punishment has a lot less life in it. Last year saw just 37 executions in the U.S., with only 111 death sentences handed down. Though 36 states and the federal government still have death penalty laws on the books, the practice of actually carrying out executions is limited almost entirely to the south, the region where all but two of last year’s executions took place. (The exceptions were both in Ohio.) Even in Texas, still the state leader in annual executions, only 10 men and one woman were sentenced to death last year, the lowest number since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Even more significantly, where states once hurried to adopt death penalty laws, the pendulum now appears to be swinging in the other direction. In 2007 New Jersey became the first state in 40 years to abolish its death penalty. In that same year repeal bills were narrowly defeated in Montana, Nebraska and New Mexico, all of which are revisiting the issue this year. And now the focus is on Maryland. After years of failed attempts by death penalty opponents to bring a repeal bill to a vote in the state legislature, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is personally sponsoring this year’s version, promising he will fight to have the legislature pass it during its current 90-day session.

Death penalty opponents say the use of DNA evidence, which has led to a number of prisoners being released from death row, is a big part of the reason for the decline in executions generally. “That’s had a ripple effect,” says Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington-based advocacy group. “The whole legal system has become more cautious about the death penalty. Prosecutors are not seeking it as much. Juries are returning more life sentences. And judges are granting more stays of execution. Last year there were over 40.”

Last year, after months of public hearings, a state commission on the death penalty voted 13-9 to recommend that it should be abolished. In its final report the commission, which had been headed by former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, cited the usual objections to capital punishment — cost, racial and jurisdictional disparities in sentencing, its ineffectiveness as a deterrent against crime and the possibility that innocent people might be put to death. One of the commission’s members was Kirk Bloodsworth, who had been on death row in Maryland for two years in the mid-1980s before he was cleared by DNA evidence.

Update 21 Feb 09:

Ex-death row inmate’s DNA not found on evidence
from AP Top Headlines At Noon EDT by By ROSE FRENCH

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — DNA from key evidence in a Tennessee woman’s slaying does not match the man who spent more than two decades on death row for killing her, according to new FBI lab tests….

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