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March 4, 2009

Lots of death penalty talk in state legislatures ... while Texas keeps up record execution pace

I am having a hard time keeping up with all the death penalty reform legislation making its way through statehouses these days, but here are headlines that seem to capture some of the latest highlights:

  • From the Baltimore Sun here, "Senate endorses 'compromise' on death penalty repeal"
  • From the Hartford Courant here, "Lawmakers revisit death penalty"
  • From the Kansas City Star here, "Kansas death penalty bill on hold"
  • From the Reno Gazette Journal here, "Bill puts death penalty on hold"

It is not clear that all of this legislative activity will likely change the basic realities of death penalty administration in the United States because few of the states talking seriously about reform have a robust capital case docket or death row.  Still, the fact that so many legislators in so many states now feel comfortable talking about reform or repeal serves as another sign of the changing capital times.

Meanwhile, as this AP article details, Texas is about to execute another inmate tonight:

The convicted killer of a Houston man gunned down during a botched burglary was headed to the Texas death chamber Wednesday evening. Kenneth Wayne Morris, whose 38th birthday was Wednesday, was condemned for the 1991 fatal shooting of James Adams, 63....

Morris would be the 10th condemned murderer executed in Texas this year and the second in as many nights to receive lethal injection in the nation's most active death penalty state.... Two more executions are set for next week in Texas.

Texas is on a record pace to break its own modern record for the number of executions in one state in one year.

March 4, 2009 at 06:29 PM | Permalink

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Comments

You know, if they would just give the death penalty a chance . . . . A lot of research points to deterrence, and there is definitely a cost savings in terms of the back end (no prolonged medical care etc.)

Plus, there is a certain satisfaction to the idea that some real scum doesn't get to breathe.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 4, 2009 6:39:43 PM

If everybody I believed to be scum didn't get to breathe, well, let's just say there'd be a whole lot less members of the Federalist Society.

We already know you get an emotional satisfaction from killing, federalist. That's what separates you from most persons on death row. As stunted and underdeveloped as they are, most still manage to have enough emotional maturity to at least recognize their actions as having been wrong and to feel regret. You, on the other hand, are just a sadist. It's just one of the many sad ironies of modern life.

Posted by: DK | Mar 4, 2009 8:08:35 PM

Wow rough talk from the peanut gallery, but in reality it costs more in the long run to have a death row and a death than it does to just house them forever. Death Row Inmates have died waiting to be put to death. It costs a lot of money to put that needle in someone's arm and just as Georgia just found out, that wrongful death costs even more.

Inmate Advocate for Rights, (they still have some).

Posted by: OliveRose | Mar 4, 2009 10:48:09 PM

Meanwhile, in Alabama the Senate just voted to expand death eligible offenses. We have proration in k - 12 due to budget shortfalls, but apparently our fearless leaders are willing to expand an already expansive and expensive capital murder statute. The effects of our sub-standard education system are showing.

Posted by: Talitha | Mar 5, 2009 12:26:09 PM

Talitha, have you ever considered: (a) that the death penalty, used effectively, may actually deter and (b) that the death penalty, used effectively, would save money.

Plus, there's also the democratic issue. You know, the people have a right to impose death on murderers, and all of these court cases, silly 8th Amendment "jurisprudence" etc. thwart the people's will. That's fine if this crap is mandated by the Constitution, but it's not.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 5, 2009 1:04:24 PM

Feder:

Are you seriously suggesting that a state should be able to kill a person for jaywalking if the people of a given jurisdiction believe that the crime should be punishable by death? After all, crimes not much more serious than jaywalking were punishable by death in 1787.

Posted by: karl | Mar 5, 2009 9:35:06 PM

To me, karl, that question is as silly as asking whether, if we were invaded and forced to up territory, would the giving away of territory violate the constitution. If legislatures are passing laws as silly as executing people for jaywalking, we've got a lot more to worry about, just as if we lose a war, we've got a lot more to worry about.

The question also reminds me of the what if questions my six year old poses to me.

I think that the death penalty is a constitutional punishment for rape, attempted murder and crimes of similar harm. There is simply no likelihood of that happening. Moreover, that the courts take an inch doesn't justify them taking a mile and banning the DP for murder simpliciter.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 6, 2009 2:19:43 PM

I was just reading about the guy in Texas that got the death penalty. There is no way a guy like that has a right to live. Most of the people on here have never lost someone to a person like this. He needs the chair, he should suffer. Only a monster could do something like this.

Posted by: CJ Bailey | Oct 28, 2009 1:01:24 PM

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