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December 29, 2004

The death penalty coming and going

Two newspaper articles about proposed capital punishment reforms provide a remarkable window into the dynamic and unpredictable world of the death penalty these days.

First, from Boston comes this article detailing that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is preparing to file a death penalty bill early next year based on the work of the commission he created to develop a nearly "foolproof" death penalty system (the interesting report of that commission is available here).  The article reports that Romney calls his bill "as close to ideal" as possible, and that Romney envisions his bill as a national model "that other states with more lax death penalty laws could adopt."

Then, from Virginia we get this article detailing that "death penalty opponents will urge the Virginia General Assembly to abolish capital punishment for juveniles."  The article notes that activists have formed an Alliance to End the Juvenile Death Penalty, and that they are pressing for legislative action even before the Supreme Court resolves the Roper case (which, as discussed here, concerns the constitutionality of executing juvenile offenders).

Though I doubt either of these capital reform proposals will become law anytime soon, it feels like another Bizarro world moment when there is talk of expanding the death penalty in Massachusetts and restricting it in Virginia.

December 29, 2004 at 01:22 AM | Permalink


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