Monday, October 15, 2007


One Year Cram Session

Today, October 15th 2007 marks a historic day for the state of Tennessee. Today, the commission created by SB 1911 to study the death penalty in depth over the course of a year convenes for the first time. The study commission is the first of its kind of any Southern state and is indicative of the growing momentum that the anti-death penalty movement is currently experiencing. However, the sponsor of the commission, Senator Doug Jackson from Dickson is for the death penalty? How can this be you might ask? Well, the Senator from Dickson understands that despite his moral or personal feelings towards the death penalty, the troubled public policy requires a comprehensive study.

"The state should exercise the utmost care in matters of life and death"

"New methods and technologies for determining guilt and innocence have shed new light on the causes of wrongful convictions"

"The state must ensure a criminal justice system that is impartial, equitable, competent, accurate, and meets the needs of victims' family members"

The above statements are in the beginning of the bill which can be read HERE. They all seem to be highly positive notions but beg the question, if these are being addressed, what were we doing before? Regardless, this one year commission has high hopes and is made up of a fair representation of all the realms of justice. The 16 member committee has members from the legislature, Tennessee Bar Association, Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, District Attorneys General Conference, District Public Defenders Conference, Office of the Post-Conviction Defender, Tennessee Justice Project, National Association on Mental Illness Tennessee, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, and You Have the Power.

The commission meetings are open to the public and begin meeting today at 1:00 p.m.

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