From Steve at CrimLaw (Ken's apparently cavorting through Kentucky, sampling many fine single-barrel bourbons. He says that he's visiting family, but I think we all know the truth) comes news that Iowa is debating whether to re-instate the death penalty. The death penalty would only apply in cases of persons charged with kidnapping, torturing and killing children. Apparently articles like this one don't really matter to those GOP legislators in Iowa. Who cares that we have executed 1000 people since 1976, but have exonerated 122 people. Now, maybe it's just me, but it seems that a 10:1 ratio of executed to exonerated suggests that there may be some more problems with our judicial system than we wish to admit. Yesterday's verdict in my case, of course, has nothing to do with this statement (sarcasm off).
For several years in the late '90s, Alaska legislators would propose bringing up the death penalty. Inevitably it was proposed for sick bastards that torture and kill the kids. Fits right in with the idea that if something is "for the kids", then we all give up our freedom and common sense. Anyway, a whole slew of people would come down and testify, all praising this idea to 'restore justice', to 'promote healing among victims' families', or to show our commitment to 'the children'. One of the last people to speak would be the public defender, either the head or the deputy, generally because they are invited to speak whenever a substantive criminal bill is proposed. And they would inevitably tell the legislature the bill that would be paid if Alaska wished to re-instate the death penalty. (Consider New Jersey. It's spent $250 million to prosecute death penalty cases and so far has executed - get read for it - nobody! Read the article.) The proposals inevitably died and Alaska still does not have the death penalty. I wish I could say that it was a commitment to justice, a realization that our justice system still convicts innocent people or that our justice system punishes the poor and minorities more than whites. But no, it's because of the cost. Well, good luck, Iowa. You're going to need it.