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Minn. Governor Pushes to Reinstate Death Penalty

Minnesota's new Republican governor is continuing his efforts to reinstate the death penalty in the state. Gov. Tim Pawlenty first floated the idea about a month ago and faced widespread criticism. At the time, the Legislature, comprised of a Republican House and Democratic Senate, made it clear that legislation renewing the death penalty did not have the votes to pass either chamber. It seemed that the issue would be dropped, but it now appears the Governor is looking for a way to bypass the Legislature.

Minnesota voters should decide via a constitutional amendment referendum whether to reinstate a state death penalty after nearly a century for the "worst of the worst" criminals, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday.

As about 50 protesters outside his State Capitol office chanted "Execute justice, not people," the governor proposed the outlines of a Minnesota system of capital punishment that he said would be "the most modern and cautious" in the nation.

To drum up support for his plan, the Governor brought out the father of a murdered rape victim who said he believed in "an eye for an eye." There was no mention of Mahatma Ghandi, who sagely said, an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Sen. John Hottinger, DFL-St. Peter, denounced the plan as "a cowardly approach designed to allow elected officials to avoid responsibility for taking us down this dark alley of criminal justice." He also described Pawlenty's proposal as an attempt to divert voters' attention from the effects of the administration's budget cuts and its release of [Dru] Sjodin's accused kidnaper.

Added Rep. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis: "This is playing with fire. It's political cynicism at its worst. The death penalty serves no legitimate purpose. It's applied unfairly, falling disproportionately on the poor, people of color and, in too many cases, on the innocent. It's also a budget buster, sapping resources from education, health care and public safety."

Hopefully, the good people of Minnesota won't kow-tow to their new governor's ill-advised agenda.

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