Death Penalty Questioned in Indiana
The South Bend Tribune today called upon Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to do two things. First, follow the advice of former Gov. Joe Kernan to "examine whether the sentencing system is fair in Indiana death penalty cases." Second, until that review has been completed, impose a moratorium on the imposition of the death penalty.
Kernan granted clemency to two individuals who had been sentenced to death -- "the only two times in the 48 years since the death penalty was reinstated that an Indiana governor has stepped in to spare the lives of condemned prisoners."
That fact may say something about Kernan's willingness to take the chance of being labeled soft on crime. More than that, it speaks to his willingness to take a new, objective look at the clemency petitions before him. What he found ought to shake anyone's confidence in Indiana's application of capital penalties.
In Kernan's words, "I now have encountered two cases where doubt about an offender's personal responsibility and the quality of the legal process leading to the capital sentence has led me to grant clemency. These instances should cause us to take a hard look at how Indiana administers and reviews capital sentences."
As the Tribune points out, even the strongest supporters of the death penalty should not accept a flawed system for dispensing the ultimate penalty.
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