[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----VA., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Aug 13 09:57:44 CDT 2007
Trial begins to determine if death row inmate is retarded
A trial to determine if a death row inmate is mentally retarded is set to
begin today in York.
Daryl Atkins of Hampton was scheduled to be put to death in December 2005
for the murder of Eric Nesbitt 2 years earlier. His case led to a U.S.
Supreme Court ban on executing the mentally retarded a few years earlier,
and now his mental capacity is in question.
Last year, the state Supreme Court overturned a jury decision that Atkins
wasn't mentally retarded because an expert for prosecutors was found to be
unqualified to testify, and because the judge told the jury that Atkins
had been sentenced to death.
The trial in York-Poquoson Circuit Court is expected to last 2 weeks.
(source: Associated Press)
Capital punishment is wrong
Dear Editor: Our [state] attorney general released a missive that is not
only sadly short on facts but seems increasingly bloodthirsty. He is
joined by the chorus of supporters of state sponsored killing that no
amount of fact seems to impress.
[Troy] King says people dont change, which contradicts Christ, who stated
there is no person beyond the redeeming grace of God. No wonder all of the
mainline churches are taking an increasingly strong stand against state
Glen Stassen tells us "the cross on Christian churches signifies not that
we should advocate more crosses for others but that we all need mercy. On
this basis, Christians should take issue with capital punishment
regardless of whether a person is innocent or guilty, or regardless of
whether lethal injection is cruel or humane. In short, executing people is
morally wrong in principle."
The American Bar Association judged "we are the only industrialized nation
with such a hunger for death in its justice system. The barbaric practice
simply cannot be justified."
Coretta Scott King said: "An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of
retaliation. Justice is never served by the taking of a human life."
Scientists have shown it is excruciatingly painful, but in the 12 states
without the death penalty, the homicide rate is 46 % lower.
What about those who are exonerated (more than 200 at latest count)? Some
12 states and the feds have set up a standardized system ranging from
$15,000 to $50,000 for each year of incarceration.
George H. Jones----Leeds
(source: Letter to the Editor, Tuscaloosa News)
This summer marks the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court's temporary
moratorium on capital punishment. And today marks the 2nd day since I
heard that Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) and I might actually agree about
Because Sam and I are Roman Catholics, it seems only natural that we
should be opposed to the death penalty. Our faith promotes forgiveness and
life, after all. And as the Republican presidential hopeful once reasoned,
"If we're trying to establish a culture of life, it's difficult to have
the state sponsoring executions."
But then again, Catholicism wasn't enough to change the minds of death
penalty supporters Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.),
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
(R). In fact, when the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted a
survey two years ago to gauge American opinion on the death penalty, it
discovered that opposition to it is highest among those who characterize
their religious affiliation as "secular." So if religious convictions
aren't motivating individuals to oppose capital punishment, what is?
Maybe it's suspicion about why the United States is the only Western
nation that still uses the death penalty. Our neighbors Canada and Mexico
abolished the practice in 1976 and 2005, respectively. Even Germany, which
has been fighting the culture of death stereotype since the Third Reich,
got rid of the death penalty in 1949.
Maybe it's the influence of social theorists who believe that capital
punishment doesn't deter violent crime. They assert that those who commit
murder are not typically in a rational frame of mind, whether due to drug
use, passion or mental illness, and thus don't consider the consequences
of their actions. In fact, a United Nations study in 1998 concluded that
the death penalty's effectiveness in deterring crime could not be proven,
adding that it was unlikely that it ever would.
Or maybe it's an acknowledgement that we're only using the death penalty
to comfort ourselves. In "The Audacity of Hope," Sen. Barack Obama
(D-Ill.) asserts that while the policy is ineffective in reducing crime,
he supports its use when "the community is justified in expressing the
full measure of its outrage." When someone rapes and murders a child, for
instance, the crime is so horrifying that we want to feel justified in our
almost primal desire to exact revenge. We don't want to recognize our
shared humanity with that murderer, and we certainly don't want to see any
similarities between his crime and our justice.
This year marks the 31st anniversary of the reinstatement of capital
punishment. And today I realized that maybe I was too quick to say that I
agree with Brownback. Upon further research, I found out that he used to
support the death penalty, and still supports it in "rare, extreme cases."
His convictions aren't even strong enough for the issue to appear in his
But if Brownback won't take a strong stance on this, I will. Capital
punishment is an antiquated policy, ineffective in purpose and unjust in
nature. Rather than take steps toward its abolishment, though, this
country continues to ignore its blatant flaws and aggravate the problem.
Last month, Missouri legislated that anyone who reveals the identity of an
executioner is fair game for legal action. Why? Because The St. Louis
Post-Dispatch released the name of the doctor who admitted to giving
inmates less than the required sedative dosage during lethal injection,
basically subjecting them to torture. He blamed his dyslexia. Far be it
from anyone to subject him to discomfort for the sake of questioning an
inherently flawed system.
I wish someone would question the system.
(source: Emmarie Huetteman is the summer associate editorial page editor;
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