Saturday, April 30, 2005

Capital Punishment...again

BOSTON, April 28 - Gov. Mitt Romney introduced a bill on Thursday that would bring back capital punishment to Massachusetts, and would do so by creating a death penalty that he said was virtually foolproof.

The bill includes several provisions that have never been tried in any other state. It would require that there be "conclusive scientific evidence," like DNA or fingerprints, to link a defendant to a crime. And it would allow a death penalty to be imposed only if a sentencing jury finds there is "no doubt" about a defendant's guilt, a standard that is stricter than "beyond a reasonable doubt."

"To the extent that is humanly possible," Mr. Romney said at a news conference, "this would not ever result in a questionable execution."

The bill, which would reinstate the death penalty in a state that abolished it in 1984, would restrict capital punishment to murders that involve terrorism, prolonged torture, multiple killings, or the killing of police officers, judges, witnesses or others involved in the criminal justice system. Defendants who had previously been convicted of first-degree murder or were serving life sentences without parole would also be eligible.

Another unprecedented provision would give the defendant the option of having two juries - one for the trial and one for the sentencing. That would allow a defendant to plead not guilty before the trial jury, but, once convicted, to admit guilt and show remorse before the sentencing jury in hopes of getting more lenient treatment.

Mr. Romney's bill also includes a requirement that defendants get at least two and possibly three lawyers, that scientific evidence be examined by a review board, that every death sentence be reviewed by the state's highest court, and that a special panel be set up to handle complaints.

Mr. Romney said he hoped the safeguards in his bill would convince legislators who are "on the fence" about the death penalty that "if you commit a heinous crime of this nature, the ultimate price will have to be paid by you."


Makes me feel all better about the death penalty.
How about you?

Forgive my sarcasm. I don't know what else to say. I made sure to include enough of this article not to be accused of citing half-truths. It is plainly an appeal to the notion that capital punishment, properly done, can be a deterrent to criminal activity.

Aside from years of analysis that lead to the inescapable conclusion that the death penalty does not deter crime (Let's see...has the crime rate in Texas been dramatically lower lately? That state is the poster case for application of the death penalty...) my basic opposition has to do with what it does to us - to me as a citizen - than what happens to the condemned.

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