Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Congress should ban death penalty

Congress should ban death penalty

The effort to abolish the death penalty got a boost recently when the
Tribune ran its outstanding March 25 editorial calling for an end to
capital punishment.

The Tribune's words are yet another sign of critical momentum that has
been building across the country, as more and more states follow Illinois'
lead and re-examine the death penalty. Maryland and Virginia, for
instance, have both elected governors who personally oppose the death

In Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley has said that he would sign legislation
to repeal that state's death penalty. In Virginia, Gov. Tim Kaine recently
vetoed bills that would have expanded the list of crimes eligible for
capital punishment.

The biggest obstacle to abolishing the death penalty doesn't lie in states
like Maryland and Virginia, but in neighboring Washington, where the
federal government is headed in the other direction. As states have
re-examined the death penalty, Congress has done little to address
concerns about putting innocent people to death, and has done nothing to
address concerns about racial bias in the death penalty system.

Instead Congress has steadily expanded the list of crimes eligible for the
federal death penalty, and the federal government has continued to pursue
more and more federal death penalty prosecutions, including in
jurisdictions that do not themselves have capital punishment.

As more and more state governments question the death penalty, and the
Tribune and others speak out about the injustice of this practice,
Congress should follow suit. It's far past time that Congress took the
lead in questioning, and ultimately abolishing, the death penalty.

Let's build on the growing momentum nationwide to end capital punishment
and restore fairness and integrity to our criminal justice system.

(source: Chicago Tribune)

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