Monday, June 18, 2007


Bredesen and Mumpower Called Out by Hometown Paper!

Today's Bristol Herald-Courier carries an editorial in support of the legislature's passage of the death penalty study bill. What!? The Tri-cities!? Isn't that the conservative section of the state? Well maybe so, but maybe the message that Tennessee's death penalty system is broken is getting out there. The Courier points out that nearly all of Tennessee's death row inmates are poor, people of color are overly represented and often tried by all-white juries, and nearly half are overturned on appeal.

But what is even better is that the paper calls out House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower for voting against the legislation, and this is Mumpower's hometown paper! It reads in part:
The text of the bill offers no clues. Surely Mumpower agrees that the state should "exercise the utmost care in matters of life and death" and that "the execution of an innocent person by the state of Tennessee would be a grave and irreversible injustice"? Or that the criminal just system must be "impartial, equitable, competent [and] accurate" and meet the needs of victims’ family members?

Is Mumpower trying to prove his conservative credentials – to be known as the lawmaking equivalent of a hanging judge?

Watching the vote on this bill, I was pretty shocked as well that 14 members of the House would vote against a study, with bi-partisan sponsorship, that seeks to guarantee that innocent people aren't executed.

But what's even better, the editorial calls on the Governor to halt executions until the study is complete: We urge the governor to use his power to stop any executions during the study period. It’s the right thing to do. How often do you hear that? So hats off to the Courier for a courageous, rational, and thoughtful stance!

Check out the entire piece here.

Comments :
Why is publishing a silly editorial "courageous"? Are there any innocence issues with the four upcoming excutions? If not, why delay them?

And, it's interesting, aren't you being stereotypical with the "all-white jury" thing?
There are a number of problems with the upcoming executions including questions of innocence, racial bias, and mental illness.

Please do some research before you comment again, which I imagine will be within the next few minutes...
Ike, I guarantee that I know far more about the death penalty than you guys do. Far more.
That's an easy comment to make anonymously online. However, if you research the upcoming executions (Tennessee has two scheduled in September, one in October, and one in December) you would know that there are a number of very serious problems in those cases, as Ike mentioned above. You can learn about the inmates scheduled for execution in September on the TN Cases section of the TCASK website. E. J. Harbison, if you examine the case, is not even truly guilty of a death penalty offense, since there are no actual aggravating factors present.

Thanks for reading.
Holton is a quadruple murderer who killed kids to get at their mom. Harbison confessed to killing a defenseless old woman during a robbery.

That all you got? Pretty weak. Where's the racial bias evidence? huh? An all-white jury? We're jumping to some conclusions, aren't we?

Let me ask a question, since we're so focused on "all-white" juries. Whom do you think would get a better shake, a black defendant/white victim with an all-white jury or a white female rape victim with a black defendant and a black jury? Inflammatory? Maybe. But the reality is, and people who spend any time with the criminal justice system know, that fact of life (black jury nullification) influences outcomes, and not for the better.

So, Mr. Enlightened, still wanna yammer about "all white" juries?
Anonymous, you continue to inundate us with bits and pieces of cases that you effectively expand into entire methods of reasoning to argue for something as significant as the death penalty. Our arguments are based on detailed structural analysis in which we examine all of the forces involved: events prior to the murder, trial progression, prison time, handling of appeals, innocence unveiling, and on and on.

I'm having difficulty seeing the significance of your questions as you seem to think that forcing us to answer questions that I believe no one can or should answer will prove that we are an organization furthering what is wrong with our society.

I don't know what your reasons are for being such a passionate proponent, and trust me I respect your passion and your right to free speech, but it would be nice if you could provide better arguments than these absolute inquiries.

All-white juries, all-black juries, prison reform, and confessions--these are all a small part of what makes the death penalty such a tough issue to deal with. I may not have as much knowledge of the death penalty as you so ardently claim, but I know that what is going on in this state is wrong and I believe that in due time, this state will prove me right as its citizens and politicians see what is fair and just and come to understand that this is a major policy mess as well as that no one should be afforded the right to kill another human being and deal out this ultimate punishment.

Our recent passage of the study commission bill is the first step towards a careful examination of this policy. It will take a year for it to come out with its recommendations. I hope in the following year, you will also continue to examine the death penalty and hopefully reform your opinion. In my heart, I know that you will at least give some consideration that capital punishment is wrong. Just as you are outraged and saddened over examples like Hammadi, I would hope that you would also feel for the families of executed individuals and Joyce House. Regardless of whether you believe that execution is right or wrong, the families of the executed individuals are not a separate entity of these acts—they too feel the pain and suffering. Lastly, I hope that you also feel saddened by Joyce House—you may believe that Paul House is guilty, but does that too mean that you are not saddened by a mother being separated from her son?
Here's another thing to contemplate with the "all white jury" thing. How many low income black people register to vote? How can they, in turn, be called for jury duty?
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