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October 8, 2009

Death penalty becoming key part of new US Senate race in Massachusetts

This new item from the Boston Globe, headlined "Brown comes out for the death penalty," reveals how the death penalty is becoming a new political issue in an unlikely setting:

State Senator Scott Brown, the most prominent Republican in the race for US Senate, is attempting to strongly differentiate himself from the Democratic candidates by declaring himself a supporter of the death penalty. Brown, a Wrentham Republican, has released a Web video saying that those who commit “crimes that are so horrific that they shock our conscience” deserve to be executed.

All four candidates running in the Democratic primary oppose the death penalty, although earlier this week US Representative Michael Capuano seized on Attorney General Martha Coakley’s past support for the death penalty in limited cases.

Coakley, until seven or eight years ago, supported capital punishment in two instances, including for those convicted of killing police officers. She said she shifted her position after becoming concerned about wrongful convictions, and now opposes it in all cases.

“My Democratic opponents Martha Coakley and Mike Capuano are having an ongoing debate over who’s more liberal,” Brown says in his Internet ad.  “Each one is trying to be softer on crime than the other. Unlike both of them, I support the death penalty.” “Deadly acts of terrorism, murders involving torture and the killing of law enforcement officials are among the types of crimes that deserve the ultimate punishment,” he added.

Especially since the federal death penalty has largely been dormant in recent years (for reasons that remain unclear as I have noted in prior posts), it is unlikely that a new US Senator from Massachusetts is will impact federal capital punishment policy or practice in any notable way.  But given that long ago I advocated for an exclusively federal system of capital punishment, I suppose I am now strangely hoping that Mr. Brown might be seriously committed to shaking-up the federal capital punishment status quo.

Some related (and mostly dated) posts on the federal death penalty:

October 8, 2009 at 04:05 PM | Permalink


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Yeah ... good luck with that. MA was like CA, got it struck down by the courts. Unlike CA, there was no uprising in the voters to reinstate it.

Posted by: . | Oct 8, 2009 4:22:55 PM

It's moot in any event. You're as likely to see a Republican senator from Massachusetts as to see a Democratic senator from Utah.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 8, 2009 7:13:04 PM

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