Abolish the Death Penalty, a letter from Sen. Feingold (D-WI)…

Sen. Feingold has once again introduced his bill to ban the Federal Death Penalty. Called the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act of 2005, it highlights some disturbing information, such as this:

That our modern society relies on killing as punishment is disturbing enough. Even more disturbing, however, is that our States’ and Federal Government’s use of the death penalty is often not consistent with principles of due process, fairness, and justice. These principles are the foundation of our criminal justice system. It is clearer than ever before that we have put innocent people on death row. In addition, statistics show that those States that have the death penalty are more likely to put people to death for killing white victims than for killing black victims.

Upon seeing this, and assuming his research is correct, I am starting to doubt my own thoughts on the Death Penalty as punishment for a capital crime. I have, for a very long time, been in support of the death penalty, mostly due to my religious values (you know, an eye for an eye and all that).

There seems to be quite a bit of information available against the use of the death penalty. Senator Feingold’s bill is the least among them. The former governor of Illinois, Gov. George Ryan, in 2000, had placed a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty until proper research could be done concerning inmates already on Death Row. That research resulted in a “blanket commutation” of those inmates’ sentences to life in prison. While I still feel that the “punishment should fit the crime”, I think that a lot more research should go into whether the death penalty should be considered as punishment for homocide, or some other heinous crime.

I don’t know if there should be some kind of litmus test for whether it should be considered,but I do know this: those accused of homocide need to be afforded fully qualified legal counsel who will stop at nothing to uncover any and all information relating to the crime they are accused of. Too often, young legal defenders are appointed and expected, among their heavy caseload, to do as good a job at defending an accused killer as Johnny Cochran did for O.J. Simpson. It just doesn’t happen that way! So will I change my support for the death penalty? Yes, but only if states refuse to offer good defense counsel to those who can’t afford it, as stated in the Miranda Law.


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