EDITORIAL: "There is No 'Humane' Execution"

A recent New York Times editorial commented on the new one-drug lethal injection protocol used in Ohio for the first time on December 8, but concluded that "the execution only reinforced that any form of capital punishment is legally suspect and morally wrong."  The Times agreed with the late Justice Harry Blackmun who called such manipulations “tinker[ing] with the machinery of death.”  The editorial also noted the risks of exeucting the innocent: "It has also become clear — particularly since DNA evidence has become more common — how unreliable the system is. Since 1973, 139 people have been released from death row because of evidence that they were innocent, according to the Death Penalty Information Center."  The editors ended by saying that repealing the death penalty "is the way to eliminate the inevitable problems with executions."  Read the full editorial below.

Read More 13,833 reads
EDITORIALS: Is An Execution Worth the Price?

A recent editorial in the Virginian-Pilot called for eliminating the death penalty as a good way to address the $3.5 billion gap in the state's budget.  "Doing away with the option of a death sentence makes sense on several levels," the editors wrote.  "It would save the state from having to pay fees associated with lengthy trials and years of appeals. It would end the agony of repeated court hearings for the families of victims. It would eliminate the four perpetually understaffed capital defender's offices, whose attorneys handle appeals automatically generated when people are sentenced to death row."  The paper suggests that the $2 million spent per execution could be better put toward education, public safety and crime prevention efforts.  "Is the cost of an execution really worth it when, for less than half the price, we could put a killer in a prison cell, locked away from society for life?"  Read the full editorial below.

Read More 11,412 reads
EDITORIALS: "Death penalty just too costly"

A recent opinion piece by the Editorial Director of the Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi points to the high costs of the death penalty as a way in which arbitrariness enters into the application of capital punishment: “When is a crime a crime deserving of death?," David Hampton asks.  "When the county can afford it, of course.” The paper supports the death penalty but the Editorial Director offered the example of Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, who said his county cannot afford to prosecute death penalty cases. The author noted, “It's a matter of how much ‘justice‘ the county can afford. But if one county can ‘afford‘ to send someone to death row and another can't, isn't that another example of how inequitable the death penalty can be?“ Hampton also cited geographical location as contributing to the death penalty’s arbitrary nature. “Ironically, it is very difficult to get a death penalty jury sentence in Hinds County anyway. Prosecutors have avoided seeking death for that reason. Yet, another jury in a different county with a different racial or gender makeup might not hesitate." The author concludes: "The death penalty costs too much, literally and in many, many other ways."  Read full text below.

Read More 8,079 reads
EDITORIALS: The Price of Death

A recent editorial in America Magazine entitled The Price of Death reviewed the growing problems with the death penalty and stated, "It is time for the nation to conclude once and for all that in our civilized society there is no place for capital punishment."  The national Catholic weekly cited the recently botched execution in Ohio, racial disparities, and the possibility of executing the innocent as reasons why public support for capital punishment has declined.  The  editorial also pointed to the high costs of the death penalty as a reason for acting now: "During the current recession, revenue-starved states are looking closely at the cost of capital punishment. According to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., death penalty cases typically require huge expenditures, partly because of re-trials to correct prior errors. California’s Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, for example, has estimated that the state is spending $138 million a year on the death penalty. . . .Lawmakers, forced by the budget crisis to make cuts in basic services like schools, law enforcement, health care and libraries, must rethink such outlays for capital punishment."

Read More 10,817 reads
EDITORIALS: "Time for America to Move Past Capital Punishment"

A recent editorial from the Aurora Sentinel in Colorado commented on the botched execution of Romell Broom.  The paper entitled its position as “Time for America to move past capital punishment.” In addition to citing the problems with lethal injection, the paper noted the risk of executing the innocent and the U.S.'s increasing isolation on the death penalty in the world.  The editorial continuted, "Even for those who believe that such heinous criminals deserve to die, our society becomes dangerously base if we promote these kinds of deaths.“  Read the entire editorial below.

Read More 5,008 reads
EDITORIALS: "High Cost of Death Row"

In an editorial on September 28 in the New York Times, the paper called the death penalty "an economic drain on governments with already badly depleted budgets."  Citing figures from the Death Penalty Information Center, the Times noted that "States waste millions of dollars on winning death penalty verdicts, which require an expensive second trial, new witnesses and long jury selections. Death rows require extra security and maintenance costs." The editors remarked that some states have begun reconsidering whether the death penalty is worth its exorbitant costs, especially since the money spent could be used instead on “police officers, courts, public defenders, legal service agencies and prison cells.” The editorial was discussed on Daily Kos. The entire editorial can be read below:

Read More 10,135 reads
EDITORIAL: 'Can Oregon Afford the Death Penalty?'--as School Funding is Reduced

An editorial The Daily Astorian, contrasts the state’s use of funds for the death penalty to the state's reduction in funding for education.  “The glaring contrast to our unquestioning spending on the death penalty - which Judge Lipscomb called ‘this largely futile attempt’ - is our disinvestment in education,” the paper noted.  “Investment in education is about the future, and it is about hope. Investment in prisons and especially in the death penalty is about a final reckoning, an admission of gross failure. Prior to 1990 there was in Oregon a presumption that children were entitled to a quality education. No more. These days the only entitlement our state offers is incarceration.”  The full editorial may be read below.

Read More 4,602 reads
EDITORIALS: Hartford Courant Calls for End to Connecticut's Death Penalty

The Hartford Courant has called for an end to the death penalty in Connecticut, citing its costs and risks.  The paper called a legislative committee’s work toward abolishing Connecticut’s death penalty “brave,” and said the state’s capital punishment system was “unworkable, not to mention expensive, unfair, and risky.”  They quoted State Sen. Mary Anne Handley who said: "The death penalty is neither swift nor certain. It may even be certain that it's not going to happen."  The editorial concluded, “The state's goal should be to keep society safe. It can accomplish that without the expectation of executions that rarely if ever take place.”  The full editorial may be read below:

Read More 5,100 reads
EDITORIALS: Death Row Futility

The Los Angeles Times recently editorialized about the futility of keeping the death penalty in California.  “Let’s end this brutal, anachronistic practice,” of the death penalty, the paper wrote.  “Inefficiency and costliness are obviously only a small part of what's wrong with the death penalty.” The editorial continued, “[C]apital punishment strikes disproportionately at disadvantaged groups, and capriciously at others,” adding, “We doubt its deterrent effect as well.”  With California facing bankruptcy, the paper finds it “shocking and depressing that California keeps hundreds of people locked up for decades awaiting execution at an estimated additional cost of $63.3 million per year (over and above the normal cost of incarceration) when it could save more than 90% of that by scrapping the system entirely and replacing it with life imprisonment without parole.“ The full editorial may be read below:

Read More 4,590 reads
EDITORIALS: "Room for Doubt" about Upcoming Texas Excution

The Houston Chronicle is calling on Texas Governor Rick Perry to delay the execution of Larry Swearingen, which is scheduled for January 27.  The Chronicle notes that the forensic scientist who testified about the time of death of the victim at Swearingen's trial now believes the death occurred later, a time at which Swearingen was in police custody on another matter. Five other physicians and forensic experts concurred that the murder occurred after the time that Swearingen was arrested on a traffic matter.  Blood and hair samples from the victim also indicated the presence of another assailant.  Dr. Glenn Larkin, a retired forensic pathologist who reviewed the case, told the Texas Monthly that “no rational and intellectually honest person can look at the evidence and conclude Larry Swearingen is guilty of this horrible crime.”

Read More 3,806 reads