[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----USA, FLA., WASH., N.Y.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Dec 14 12:22:12 CST 2005
Criminal justice in the US: The American way of death
Stanley 'Tookie' Williams was killed by lethal injection in California
yesterday. His case highlights the controversy over state executions in
the US, says Andrew Gumbel
Within the eerie confines of the death chamber at San Quentin prison,
supporters of Stanley "Tookie" Williams whispered their final words of
love and defiantly gave the Black Power salute.
Outside the prison gates, more than 2,000 people gathered to light
candles, pray, sing and shed tears as the needles were inserted into the
prisoner's arm and the most controversial inmate on California's death row
had his life quietly and clinically snuffed out.
The one-time leader of the Crips street gang and convicted murderer, who
evolved into an ardent anti-gang activist during his 24 years on death
row, was executed just past midnight on Monday night after the denial of
his last appeals lodged with the courts and with California's governor,
In the end, nothing could stop the slow march of California's bureaucracy
of death - not the weeks of spirited campaigning led by Hollywood
celebrities and inner-city activists, not the outpouring of international
support, not the widely expressed sense that if Williams were not regarded
as an embodiment of rehabilitation and redemption then the terms had no
meaning in the US criminal justice system.
"The state of California just killed an innocent man!" three of his
supporters shouted in unison inside the death chamber as the execution was
completed. The stepmother of one of the murder victims - a
convenience-store clerk blasted by a sawn-off shotgun during a robbery in
south Los Angeles in 1979 - turned stony-faced and burst into tears,
according to media witnesses inside the room.
It took a gruelling 23 minutes for prison officials to insert the needles
in Williams' muscular arms, prompting the prisoner to wince in
frustration, and another 13 minutes before he was pronounced dead. He
lifted his head to look at the 5 friends and supporters in the room before
Just 12 hours before, Mr Schwarzenegger issued astatement to deny Williams
clemency, arguing that his crimes were too heinous to merit a commutation
of his sentence, and questioning whether his prison-house reformation was
The governor had indicated he found the decision agonising, but
politically speaking it was straightforward: he is in deep trouble in
opinion polls and has already alienated his Republican base by appointing
a Democrat as his chief-of-staff. Sparing Williams' life would almost
certainly have triggered a full-scale revolt against him by his own party.
And so the execution went ahead, with many Californians quietly applauding
the decision to end the life of a cold-blooded killer - Williams has
acknowledged doing terrible things, although he maintained he was innocent
of the four murders for which he was convicted - even as others expressed
outrage and sorrow.
The Vatican and several European officials made statements of opposition.
In Mr Schwarzenegger's home town of Graz, Austria, the Green Party said
their native son deserved to be stripped of his Austrian nationality.
Even in the United States, there were signs that Williams' death would
prompt continuing debate about the appropriateness of the death penalty.
The California legislature is due to debate a moratorium as early as next
month pending a 2-year official inquiry into the safety of capital
Kenny Richey: On death row in Ohio for 20 years
Earlier this year, Kenny Richey believed he would finally be granted an
opportunity to clear his name. Having spent 20 years on death row, an
appeals court ruled the British-born prisoner had not received a fair
trial. It said he should be released or given a new trial.
But last month the US Supreme Court ruled that the lower court had erred
and ordered it to re-examine its judgment. The decision means that Richey,
41, could return to death row in Ohio rather than receiving a new trial.
Richey, born in Scotland, has always insisted that he faces the death
penalty for a crime he did not commit. He was charged and convicted over
the death of 2-year-old Cynthia Collins in a fire in the town of Columbus
Grove, Ohio, in 1986, allegedly started by Richey to punish the girl's
mother, his former girlfriend.
Richey's campaign has received support from figures ranging from the late
Pope John Paul II to 150 MPs, who signed a motion supporting his claim
that he was not responsible for the child's death. The campaign appeared
to have made a breakthrough when the appeals court threw out his order for
execution, having found he received incompetent legal help in his trial
and that the prosecution case lacked proof.
The court even found there was evidence Richey had risked his life to try
to save the child. In a rare telephone interview this year from the
Mansfield Correctional Institute, Richey told The Independent on Sunday:
"What I've missed the most is to be able to walk up to my front door and
go anywhere I've wanted, to go shopping," he said.
"Just the basic things. I just want to get home to Scotland and be with my
A British lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, who spent almost two decades
defending death-sentence cases in the US, said: "Support from the British
Government for Kenny is crucial now that his case is in the Supreme Court,
if his rights are to be honoured."
John Nixon: On death row for 19 years in Mississippi
Unless his execution is halted by some last-minute intervention, John
Nixon will today become the oldest person executed in the US for more than
Nixon, 77, was convicted in 1986 of the contract killing of Virginia
Tucker in Mississippi. Nixon's current lawyers, while not disputing his
guilt, have claimed he did not receive a fair trial and that his lawyers
at the time were "overworked and overwhelmed" during the hearing.
As a result, they argue, the court did not hear mitigating evidence that
might have counted against a death penalty. They also say that disputed
evidence about a previous offence - a statutory rape - should not have
been presented to the court.
While Mississippi has not executed a prisoner since 2002, the state's
governor, Haley Barbour, says he will not grant clemency. "The real
tragedy is that justice in this case has been delayed for more than 20
years," he said earlier this week.
Nixon was hired to carry out the killing by Mrs Tucker's ex-husband,
Elster Ponthieux, who was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the
Nixon was assisted by his two sons and another man, who received lighter
sentences. As the scheduled date for execution has approached, an appeal
has been sent to the US Supreme Court.
Emergency appeals for Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana are routinely heard
by Justice Antonin Scalia. Some in Mississippi believe that Nixon's life
should be spared. State Representative Erik Fleming told the
Clarion-Ledger newspaper that while the murder of Mrs Tucker "was heinous,
it is even more heinous for this state to continue the practice of
execution in the name of justice".
Others claim that the execution will bring justice. One of Mrs Tucker's
three children, Joey Ponthieux, told a local television station: "The
depth of sorrow and loss that I and my family feel from my beloved
mother's absence cannot be adequately put into words."
Michael Ross: Executed in may 2005 in Connecticut
Until May of this year, no one had been executed in New England for 45
That changed when Connecticut put to death a serial killer who had
campaigned for his sentence to be carried out.
Michael Ross, 45, fought off attempts by lawyers and anti-death penalty
advocates to stop his execution by lethal injection.
Ross was convicted of the murder of 4 young women in Connecticut during
the 1980s. He confessed to 4 other murders and said he had raped most of
Shortly before his execution, a federal appeals court and the US Supreme
Court rejected a lawsuit brought on behalf of Ross's father that claimed
the execution would lead to a wave of suicide attempts among Connecticut
The courts also rejected an attempt by Ross's sister to intervene. Ross
said last year that his victims' families had suffered enough. "I owe
these people. I killed their daughters. If I could stop the pain, I have
to do that. This is my right," the Cornell University graduate said. "I
don't think there's anything crazy or incompetent about that."
His view appeared to be borne out by those relatives. Prior to Ross's
execution, Edwin Shelley, whose 14-year-old daughter Leslie was the serial
killer's seventh victim, said he planned to watch the execution. "It's
going to be nice to come home and realise that the case is finished and
that he has received his just rewards," he said. "I think I will be very
relaxed and at ease with myself."
Ross's execution was the 1st since 1960 in the traditionally moderate
northeastern US states known collectively as New England - Connecticut,
Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. On the day
of the execution, the state's governor, Jodi Rell, said: "Today is a day
no one truly looked forward to, but then no one looked forward to the
brutal, heinous deaths of those 8 young girls. I hope that there is at
least some measure of relief and closure for their families."
A history of hangings, firing squads and electric chairs
Captain George Kendall, convicted of spying, is subject of first recorded
execution in America. Other crimes punishable by death include stealing
grapes and killing chickens.
The 1st death penalty statutes are recorded, for offences such as idolatry
William Kemmler becomes the 1st person to sit in the electric chair, in
A new "progressive period" of reform leads to abolition of death penalty
in 9 states. But executions reached an all-time peak in the 1930s,
averaging 167 per year.
As countries in Europe abolish capital punishment, many in the US begin to
question its morality and legality. The number of executions drops.
Support for executions falls to all-time low in 1966. In 1967, executions
In Furman v Georgia, US Supreme Court rules that the arbitrary application
of the death penalty is unconstitutional but the following week the court
reverses its decision. This allows the wave of executions still rolling
In January in Utah, Gary Gilmore, convicted of murder, is executed by
firing squad, America's first execution after a 10-year moratorium.
Charles Brooks becomes 1st person to be executed by lethal injection.
President Clinton signs a bill making dozens of federal crimes punishable
by death. In 2001, the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh becomes the first
federal prisoner to be executed.
Pope John Paul II visits Missouri and calls for abolition. A UN Human
Rights Commission resolution calls for a worldwide moratorium.
New York declares death penalty unconstitutional. Number of executions
begins to fall.
2 December 2005
Kenneth Boyd is 1,000th executed since 1976.
13 December 2005
Stanley 'Tookie' Williams executed.
John Nixon, 77, set to be 60th execution this year.
(source: The Independent (UK) )
amendment VIII: Fair punishment
(This month, convicted murderer Kenneth Lee Boyd became the 1,000th person
executed in the United States since 1977, after the Supreme Court lifted a
10-year ban on capital punishment. Death-penalty proponents argue the
Eighth Amendment was never meant to prohibit capital punishment)
The purpose of the Bill of Rights, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in
encouraging the amendments to the Constitution, was to "guard the people
against the federal government," and one thing is certain if you are going
to do that: You must impose limits on how that government treats people
accused of crime.
Thus we get 4 amendments--including the Eighth--that aim to prevent the
kinds of abuses so readily at hand when the government is deciding whether
you may or may not have your liberty, or even your life.
The Eighth Amendment has mostly been in the news because of debate over
capital punishment, and lately, because of treatment of prisoners at
Guantanamo Bay. But the short sentence that constitutes the amendment has
two parts besides the one that directly applies to these controversies,
namely, the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
The 1st part of the amendment says there must not be excessive bail--which
is not the same as saying the courts must always guarantee bail. It has
been understood from the start that some offenses are so awful, and the
motivation to flee so great, that the courts need not release the accused
prior to trial.
Otherwise, however, you don't want people in jail who haven't been proven
guilty of anything, and so you let them loose with bail, which is to say,
with the payment of money that will be forfeited if the accused does not
show up for trial.
In England, magistrates of the king frequently would require bail
incommensurate with the crime, and so, through a series of acts beginning
more than 700 years ago, the English forged a principle saying that bail
cannot be in amounts exceeding the crime's seriousness.
The amendment's second clause, which concerns fines, does not apply to
civil suits--which some people might regret, considering that punitive
damages in some civil-suit rewards have been as astonishing as they are
unjust. Clearly, this part of the amendment means that fines should bear a
reasonable relationship to the crime, but students of the Supreme Court
note that it has never been precise on what this reasonableness might
In thinking about the most discussed portion of this amendment, don't
suppose it a totally simple thing. What's forbidden is punishment that is
both cruel and unusual, and all punishment, after all, is likely to cause
some degree of suffering; that's why we call it punishment.
Surely the Founders wanted to avoid any return to such barbarous and
discontinued English practices as disemboweling a convict and then pulling
off his arms and legs--and the Supreme Court says the government cannot
torture convicts nor punish them arbitrarily or unnecessarily.
Punishments, the court also has held, should not be disproportionate to
the crime. But the chief meaning of the clause, it has been argued, is to
make sure no particular lawbreaker is punished in some more brutal way
from how others guilty of morally comparable offenses are punished.
Does the clause mean the death penalty should be abolished? The Supreme
Court has never said so, though it has ruled, among other things, that the
death penalty must not be inflicted for any reason other than murder, that
it must not be discriminatory, and that it cannot be applied to the
mentally retarded or to anyone whose crime was committed under the age of
The decision concerning murders by minors came just this year, and,
according to those who believe the Constitution should be interpreted in
accordance with its original meaning, is an outrage. Robert Bork, who was
rejected by the Senate as a Supreme Court justice, has noted that the
criminal at issue, who was 17 at the time, broke into a house with a
friend, kidnapped a girl, took her to a bridge, tied her up, and threw her
in a river, where she drowned.
The court said that "evolving standards of decency" required that the
youth be spared execution. Bork notes that, of the 38 states with a death
penalty, 20 permitted it for murderers under 18. The standards the court
references are clearly not those of society at large.
Bork's fundamental position is that it is the Constitution that matters,
not the supposed sensibilities of justices, and that court alterations in
the document's meaning (except through further amendment) make it
Scholars agreeing with him note that the authors of the amendment wrote it
at a time when capital punishment was common, but made no reference to it.
It is inconceivable they meant the amendment to outlaw the death penalty,
although legislative bodies are certainly free to do so if persuaded by
any number of strong arguments.
Also this year, the debate has been intense on the question of whether the
Eighth Amendment applies to enemy combatants detained by the United States
at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
To suppose it does would be to assume for the first time ever that enemy
forces captured during a war are entitled to the same Bill of Rights
protections as citizens in the criminal-justice system.
That's not to say, of course, that Congress has no say in how those
detainees are treated.
The Bill of Rights puts you--the individual citizen--in the
U.S.Constitution, and spells out liberties that no government official can
revoke. Through Bill of Rights Day, Dec. 15, we will offer commentaries on
the first 10 amendments that make up the bill. --The Editors
Sunday, Dec. 4: Amendment I--freedom of expression.
Tuesday, Dec. 6: Amendment 2--bearing arms
Wednesday, Dec. 7: Amendment 3--quartering soldiers.
Thursday, Dec. 8: Amendment 4--search and seizure.
Friday, Dec. 9: Amendment 5--property rights and double jeopardy.
Saturday, Dec. 10 : Amendment 6--criminal rights.
Sunday, Dec. 11: Amendment 7--jury trial.
Today: Amendment 8--excessive fines; cruel and unusual punishment.
Wednesday, Dec. 14: Amendment 9--unenumerated rights.
Thursday, Dec. 15, Bill of Rights Day: Amendment 10--states' rights.
Friday, Dec. 16: Amending the Constitution.
(source: The Free Lance-Star - JAY AMBROSE is the former editor of The
Rocky Mountain News in Denver)
This month, a North Carolina inmate named Kenneth Boyd became the 1,000th
person executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated
the death penalty in 1976. Over this period, the United States has
executed an average of 1 person every 10 days. The use of capital
punishment continues today amid growing evidence of its uneven
application, departure from international norms, and high susceptibility
to error. As the final arbiter of due process of law, the Supreme Court
has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring fairness in the
administration of the death penalty. In evaluating a Supreme Court
nominee, it is important to know how the nominee would approach this
In his 15-year career on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit,
Judge Samuel Alito has participated in 10 capital cases. 5 were decided
unanimously by 3-judge panels. The other five provoked strong disagreement
between Judge Alito and his colleagues. In each of the 5 contested cases,
Judge Alito ruled against the inmate. His opinions, which we examine in
detail, show a disturbing tendency to tolerate serious errors in capital
proceedings. They reveal troubling perspectives on federalism, race, and
due process of law, and they have worrisome implications for the
protection of individual liberties in the war on terror. Although Justice
Sandra Day O Connor, whom Judge Alito would replace, has long supported
capital punishment, she has at times supplied a crucial vote in
contentious cases in favor of greater vigilance and care in the
application of the death penalty. Yet it is precisely in the most
contentious cases that Judge Alito has shown an unbroken pattern of
diluting norms of basic fairness. At a time when Americas commitment to
due process of law is being closely scrutinized at home and abroad, Judge
Alito's record raises serious concerns.
Midnight Justice----Why are executions often scheduled for 12:01 a.m.?
Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a founder of the Crips street gang and a
convicted murderer, was executed last night by lethal injection in
California's San Quentin prison. The execution was scheduled for 12:01
a.m., but media witnesses said it took medical technicians 12 minutes to
find a vein on Williams' arm. He was pronounced dead at 12:35 a.m. PT. Why
are executions frequently scheduled for 12:01?
Mainly because a death warrant is often good for just one day. According
to the California Department of Corrections, if the execution is not
carried out during that 24-hour period, the state must re-petition the
court for another death warrant. Scheduling the execution for 12:01 a.m.
gives the state as much time as possible to deal with last-minute legal
appeals and temporary stays, which have a way of eating up time.
Another advantage is that the rest of the inmates are locked down and,
presumably, asleep. That minimizes the threat of unrest at the appointed
hour. The prison was also on a "modified lockdown" during the day on
Monday to free up staff for Williams' execution.
Holding such an important event in the middle of the night does present
challenges. In 1997, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor told an
audience that it was not ideal to receive last-minute stay requests so
late. "Dispensing justice at that hour of the morning is difficult, to say
the least, and we have an obligation ... to give our best efforts in every
one of these instances."
Since then, a few states, including Texas and Arizona, have switched to
holding executions in the afternoon or evening to make the process
slightly easier for judges, guards, and the families of victims.
Death sentences, both state-imposed and vigilante, were often carried out
during daylight hours in earlier eras. Public hangings were major events,
to which tickets were sold. The last public hanging in the United States,
which occurred in Owensboro, Ky., in 1936, was held just after sunrise.
Explainer thanks Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center,
Michael Rushford of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, and Kevin
Kostecky of the California Department of Corrections.
(source: Slate - Andy Bowers is a Slate senior editor)
Why not all executions deter murder
At approximately 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time on Dec. 13, Stanley "Tookie"
Williams was executed in California. His execution was California's
twelfth since 1977. Although California has the largest death row in the
United States, with approximately 650 inmates, it has one of the lowest
ratios of inmates executed to inmates on death row. California sentences
many to death, but it executes few.
There are many moral and legal issues in the debate over capital
punishment. One central issue is whether executions deter murder.
Deterrence is the basis that many policymakers and courts cite for capital
punishment. For example, in one of his presidential debates with Al Gore
in 2000, President Bush stated that capital punishment deters crime and
that deterrence is the only valid reason for capital punishment. Likewise,
the Supreme Court, when it held in its landmark 1976 decision Gregg v.
Georgia that capital punishment was constitutional, cited deterrence as
one of its main reasons.
Theories are conflicting as to whether executions will reduce or increase
murders. Executions may deter some criminals from committing murder
because they raise the potential costs of committing a murder. Or,
executions may lead to a brutalization effect, creating a climate of
brutal violence and setting an example of killing to avenge grievances.
Recent empirical evidence initially seemed to confirm the deterrence
theory. In the past decade, 12 empirical studies by economists, published
in peer-reviewed journals, have found evidence consistent with a strong
deterrent effect. Most of these studies, including three by me, use large
data sets that combine information from all 50 states or all US counties
over many years to show that, on average, an additional execution deters
Although the previous studies estimated a national average deterrent
effect, it is reasonable to assume that the deterrent effect will vary
based on the great differences in states' application of the death
penalty. For example, states vary widely in: their definitions of capital
crimes, their frequency of imposing capital sentences, their frequency of
executions, their methods of execution, and the publicity those executions
In a study recently published by the Michigan Law Review, I use 3
well-known data sets common to empirical studies of crime and well-tested
empirical methods. I find that the impact of executions differs among
states with the death penalty. Although executions appear to deter crime
in approximately 1/5 of these states, in the remaining 80 %, executions
show no deterrent effect. Indeed, in some of these states, executions
produce the opposite effect: Murders increase after executions.
Why does this happen? One important factor is that, on average and with
exceptions, the states where capital punishment deters murder tend to
execute many more people than do the states where capital punishment
incites crime or has no effect.
An intuitive explanation for this is that each execution creates two
opposing reactions: a brutalization effect and a deterrent effect. For a
state's first few executions, the deterrent effect is small. Only if a
state executes many people does deterrence grow; only then do potential
criminals become convinced that the state is serious about the punishment,
so that they start to reduce their criminal activity. For most states,
when the number of executions exceeds some threshold level, the deterrent
effect begins to outweigh the brutalization effect. In the four-fifths of
states where executions either increased murders or had no effect, the
brutalization effect either counterbalances or outweighs the deterrent
What about the earlier studies showing deterrence as a national average?
These results appear to be caused by the few states with many executions
and deterrence outweighing the many states with no deterrence or increased
Will Stanley Williams's execution increase or decrease murders? If
Williams had been executed in Texas, his execution would be expected to
deter future murders. My study shows a strong deterrent effect there,
seemingly motivated by the hundreds of people that Texas has executed in
California is different. The three data sets that my recent paper analyzes
vary by time period and other characteristics. Therefore, there are some
differences among the data sets in the states that fall into each group:
deterrent, no effect, and brutalization. Nevertheless, none of the data
sets in California show that executions deter murder.
Perhaps this is explained by Williams being only the twelfth execution in
California in the past quarter century, compared with the 650 on death row
there. Perhaps this low ratio of executions to death-row inmates is not
enough to convince potential criminals that the possibility of execution
is a real threat that could be imposed on them.
However, it is possible that future executions in California may have a
deterrent effect. 10 of California's 12 executions have taken place within
the past decade. Perhaps the increased frequency will shift California to
being a deterrence state. If so, the execution of Williams may save the
lives of other potential murder victims. Only time, and future empirical
analysis, will tell.
(source: Opinion, Joanna Shepherd is an assistant professor of law at
Emory Law School; Christian Science Monitor)
Grand jury indicts man accused of killing 4 family members
In Bradenton, a grand jury Tuesday indicted a man accused of beating 4
family members to death with a metal pipe on Thanksgiving Day.
The grand jury charged Richard Edgar Henderson Jr., 20, with 4 counts of
1st-degree murder in connection to the beating deaths of his parents,
grandmother and brother.
Assistant Public Defender Carolyn DaSilva entered a plea of not guilty on
Henderson's behalf during his arraignment Tuesday. Henderson did not
Henderson told detectives he struck his brother first as the 2 played a
video game, then killed other family members one at a time.
Henderson was arrested Nov. 27 after the bodies of his family members -
Richard Sr., 48; Jeaneane, 42, Jake, 11, and June, 82 - were found in
separate rooms of their Myakka City home in eastern Manatee County.
(source: Associated Press)
Judge rejects tactic to avoid death penalty
A convicted child killer from Everett shouldn't be able dodge a death
sentence by arguing that "evolving standards of decency" prohibit his
potential execution, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Lawyers for Richard Mathew Clark, 36, asked Snohomish County Superior
Court Judge Thomas Wynne to block prosecutors from asking a jury to vote
in support of Clark's death.
The lawyers earlier told the judge it would be wrong to attempt to execute
Clark for the 1995 rape and murder of 7-year-old Roxanne Doll when Green
River killer Gary Ridgway is serving life in prison after admitting 48
Wynne ruled that Clark's lawyers haven't shown that Clark's execution
would be disproportionately harsh punishment, and they also have no legal
grounds to argue that execution is off-limits for those who take a single
"No Washington court or court of any other state has determined that
'evolving standards of decency' prohibit the execution of an individual
convicted of murdering only one person," Wynne said in his written ruling.
The judge also rejected defense arguments that Clark is being prejudiced
by evidence his lawyers claim indicates prosecutors in other counties
would not have sought his execution. The judge found equally unpersuasive
the defense claims that it would violate state law to stage a 2nd trial so
a jury can decide whether Clark should be sentenced to die.
A jury in 1997 convicted Clark of killing the girl and ruled that he
should be sentenced to die. The state Supreme Court in 2001 overturned the
sentence, ruling that jurors had heard too much about Clark's 1988
conviction for abducting a 4-year-old neighbor girl. The high court sent
Clark's death penalty case back to Snohomish County for another trial to
determine his punishment.
That new penalty trial is scheduled for spring. Clark remains convicted of
the murder, and the only thing to be decided is whether he could be
executed or face prison without a chance of release.
(source: Daily Herald)
Time for N.Y. to restore the death penalty
Folks in California have the best of all possible worlds: warm weather ...
and the death penalty, too.
As a frigid New York pays its final respects today to Police Officer
Daniel Enchautegui, Californians know their most famous killer got his
just deserts. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected clemency for Stanley
(Tookie) Williams, and the convicted murderer was executed by lethal
injection in San Quentin prison early yesterday.
Please, spare me the tears for Williams. A founder of the brutal Crips
crime gang, he killed four people in cold blood during robberies that got
him $200, then laughed about it, according to trial testimony. He was
sentenced in 1981, yet never expressed remorse, a fact that belies the
claims of Jesse Jackson and other daffy supporters that Williams had
gained redemption. Finally, his debt to society is paid in full.
New York should be so lucky. Eleven cops have been shot since June, two of
them fatally. The family heartbreak and fury, the solemn sea of blue, the
respectful politicians who gathered only last week for the funeral of
Officer Dillon Stewart all will be in evidence again today when
Enchautegui is laid to rest.
Against that horrible backdrop, the Daily News is leading the campaign for
tougher penalties for all violent crimes against police officers. It's
such an obviously necessary change that the only shock is that these lax
laws haven't been corrected already.
Yet the effort to bring some sanity to New York's criminal justice system
will not be complete until the state restores the death penalty. And uses
The law was on the books for 10 years, but zero executions were carried
out before the state's highest court ruled a key provision
unconstitutional. Like so much else in Albany, a simple fix has been
stalled. It's time to plug in Old Sparky, or, as the late News
editorialist Reuben Maury preferred, the Hot Squat.
Whatever you call it, whatever method is used, the death penalty is an
appropriate punishment for some crimes. It's not about blood lust or
revenge. Nor do I believe the possibility of a sanitized execution deters
anyone who would otherwise pull the trigger. I simply believe that some
crimes are so heinous that those fairly convicted must pay the ultimate
Killing a cop clearly qualifies. Yet because New York prosecutors and
juries no longer have the option, the three men charged with killing
Officers Stewart and Enchautegui already know they won't pay with their
And that's a crime.
(source: Opinion, New York Daily News)
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