Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Something to Talk About

The death penalty has been getting some press the last few days. Perhaps the New Jersey Commission's report to recommend the abolition of the death penalty in that state has inspired the coverage. On Friday, the Tennessean ran a story showing a decline in the use of the death penalty in 2006 to its lowest level since 1976. The possibility of making a mistake is listed as the number one reason for the decline, followed by the institution of life without parole, a drop in violent crime, and the cost of prosecuting a capital case as other possible reasons.

In that same paper on the opinion page, Attorney Brad Maclean discusses lethal injection and the major problems with the method as highlighted by the recent decisions in California and Florida to halt the procedure pending full review. Brad Maclean skillfully walks readers through the process of executing someone by lethal injection and highlights all the ways that the procedure can go terribly wrong from the ineffectiveness of the chemicals to the lack of training of those administering the drugs.

Then, in yesterday's paper, a story entitled, Judge vocal against the death penalty, discusses the views of 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge and former Chief Judge Boyce Martin, who has become increasingly outspoken concerning his views on the death penalty and its application in this country. In a 2005 dissent in which Judge Martin notes his long service as an appeals court judge, service of more than 25 years, he says, "only one conclusion is possible...The death penalty in this country is arbitrary, biased and so fundamentally flawed at its very core that it is beyond repair."

Today marks the opening day of the legislative session here in Tennessee. I hope that our legislators have been reading their papers lately! I believe that the wind is shifting in this country on the issue of capital punishment. The problems are too real to deny and to deep to undo. My hope is that the press will continue to keep this issue in the forefront of our minds, raising the hard questions, as our state prepares to execute EJ Harbison in February.
Comments :
There has been a lot of press on the death penalty but this was in the paper yesterday and was very negative from a woman who doesn't have a clue. How many more think as she does?

Public hangings would deter criminals

To the Editor:

The swift justice with which the Iraqi government carried out the hanging of Saddam Hussein is something this nation needs to emulate. Those in this country on death row for as many as 20 years languish with numerous appeals. At the cost of approximately $30,000 to $35,000 a year, we are paying a hefty price.

Solomon, deemed the wisest person who ever inhabited the Earth, said these words: "When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the heart of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong."

The criminal element know there is very little punishment awaiting them as they continue to commit numerous crimes while awaiting action from the justice system. Victims continue to be set aside for the rights of the criminal.

Something needs to change drastically. Perhaps a few public hangings might strike fear in the heart of the criminal.

Norma Morefield

Waverly 37185
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