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December 4, 2011

"Path to execution swifter, more certain in Va."

The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy article, which gets started this way:

Serving life in prison without possibility of parole, Robert C. Gleason opted to die by execution instead of old age and is Virginia's newest death-row inmate.

He earned the distinction by killing fellow prisoners in the state most likely to grant his wish. Since executions resumed in 1977, nearly three out of four condemned prisoners in Virginia have been put to death, the nation's highest rate.

Texas, which leads the United States in number of executions, is second to Virginia, carrying out less than half its death sentences. In most death-penalty states, the ratio is fewer than 1 in 10.

While Virginia's record is clear, its causes and implications are in dispute.

Authorities say Virginia's capital-murder law was tightly written and that trial and appeal courts here do a better job than elsewhere; critics argue Virginia trials have plenty of errors and that unlike elsewhere, appeals courts fail to catch them.

"I think the answer is that there is a little truth in both views," said Richard J. Bonnie, director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. "Virginia's law was indeed more tightly drafted, but post-conviction review is less aggressive than in other states."

December 4, 2011 at 11:50 PM | Permalink


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The idea that LWOP grants absolute legal immunity for all crimes after the first murder was introduced in the comments section earlier. It is a license to kill better than that of James Bond, free of second guessing by civil service or left wing politicians. Mr. Gleason illustrates that concept is real.

I would like to introduce another concept here. Negligent or intentional failure to sentence to death or to administer the death penalty in a timely manner. The estates of the two needless murder victims should be able to sue the judges that allowed a delay, the defense lawyers that filed appeals, and any regulators tht devised the delaying procedures. The high foreseeability of these murders induces a duty to the plaintiffs.

If the claim is dismissed, the families of the victims should hunt them down, and beat their asses in street justice.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 5, 2011 1:01:14 AM

It's often said, especially on more liberal blogs, that "the death penalty is broken." And in places like California, which tolerates inordinate delay and expense, there's something to that.

Virginia shows that it doesn't have to be that way. In that state, the DP decidely is NOT broken. What Virginia shows is that the DP can work as intended, and without either excessive delay or expense, if the state legislature and judiciary are serious.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 5, 2011 1:03:26 PM

Shame each state have different law ,and shame execution is still continuing while its avoided in many countries

Posted by: nurse salary | Dec 5, 2011 1:19:31 PM

"Nurse Salary":

Do you know of a "shame[less]" whilst *just* penalty for multiple murders by the same perpetrator, in completely separate killings?

Convicted murderers have killed whilst on parole;
convicted murderers have killed inmates in prison (e.g. Gary Haugen).

No murderer has killed whilst on death row I reckon,
nor has any executed murderer in history ever committed a crime or any sort.

"Too much mercy... often resulted in further crimes which were fatal to innocent victims who need not have been victims if justice had been put first and mercy second." {A. Christie}

Put justice first! (Prov 1:3)

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 5, 2011 2:17:21 PM

nurse salary --

"Shame each state have different law..."

As the Founders wisely provided, we have separate states precisely to allow each to decide its own laws. But if it's uniformity you want in spite of that, I presume the uniformity would lie in implementing the laws of the heavy majority of states (35) that have capital punishment, and discarding the laws of the other 15 which don't.

Unless, of course, you're for the tyranny of the minority. Are you?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 5, 2011 3:10:55 PM

Bill Otis

it also helps if the Executive Branch and the Attorney General are serious also. It can be done efficiently if all the parties are on the same page. Unfortunately, many states have impediments to deal with. We all know which states I am referring to.

Posted by: DaveP | Dec 5, 2011 7:49:23 PM

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