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October 1, 2010

Death penalty discussion in Massachusetts AG debate

As Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney tried and failed (some spectacularly) to bring the death penalty back to the Bay State.  Now, as detailed in this news report headlined "AG candidates debate renewing death penalty: Mattapan killings a hot-button topic," a high-profile murder has prompted yet again discussion of capital punishment in the state:

Injecting the Mattapan killings into the state attorney general’s race, Republican candidate James McKenna said yesterday that in light of the gruesome deaths it was time to revisit the death penalty in Massachusetts.

"We don’t know the facts here yet," McKenna said during his first debate yesterday with Martha Coakley, the Democratic incumbent. "But this case may put the death penalty back on the table." Four people were killed in the shootings early Tuesday, including a 2-year old child.

Coakley, who is seeking reelection after her defeat to Scott Brown in January’s special US Senate election, said she opposes capital punishment; in the past, she had supported it in certain instances. "I am against it," she said simply.

Massachusetts lawmakers have repeatedly turned aside efforts to reinstate the death penalty, citing a lack of evidence that it deters crime and the possibility of executing an innocent convict.

Although he raised the death penalty issue, McKenna’s stance on capital punishment appeared to be a work in progress. Last week, he said he favored the death penalty for killers of police officers, but implied in yesterday’s debate that he also supports executing murderers of children.

Asked to clarify his position, spokeswoman Laura Rigas said in a statement, "Jim McKenna does support it in extreme cases, such as those who are convicted of murdering children and public safety officials and those who commit acts of terrorism."

October 1, 2010 at 09:45 AM | Permalink

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