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Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty

Republicans have introduced a bill to speed up the death penalty by limiting habeas appeals.

The "Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005," introduced into the House of Representatives by California Rep. Dan Lungren and in the Senate by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, would limit the ability of defendants facing the death sentence to have their cases reviewed by federal courts in what are known as habeas corpus appeals.

...Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee considering the bill, conceded there was little chance of blocking it in the House. "The House has been very supportive of anything that would strip the innocent of a fair hearing. This bill will ensure that more innocent people will be put to death," he said in a telephone interview.

This is a** backwards. One of the principal reasons death penalty appeals take so long is that people languish on death row for years before a lawyer is appointed to represent them. If we raised the compensation levels and provided adeqate expense money for forensic testing and experts, more qualified lawyers would volunteer to defend death cases on appeal and in habeas proceedings and they wouldn't last so long.

Also, if we raised the standards for representation of capital defendants at the trial level, and required DNA testing where such evidence exists, and made the ABA standards for qualification mandatory, there would be far fewer claims of ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial level.

We should not do anything legislatively that might increase the risk that an innocent person will be put to death. It's not the American way.

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  • Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#1)
    by wishful on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:54 PM EST
    The American way ain't what it used to be. We need to reclaim it. No one now in power wants to do so. It is up to us.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:54 PM EST
    I wonder how many Republican Catholic legislators will vote in favor of the death penalty in this case? The present and past Pope both consider the death penalty un-Catholic and on a par with abortion.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:54 PM EST
    disgraceful. and narius, the actual facts of HOW many death penalty cases have you studied?

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:55 PM EST
    Where can I sign up to join the Republican "Culture of Life"? It seems like they are doing a bang up job!

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#6)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:55 PM EST
    Fun facts for the bloodthirsty:
    A study headed by Columbia University statistician and political scientist Andrew Gelman of all 5,826 death sentences imposed in the United States between 1973 and 1995 found that 68 per cent were reversed on appeal.


    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:55 PM EST
    The death-penalty ghouls know that, unless you execute a lot of people, there isn't much of a deterrent effect. But the only way to ratchet up those numbers is to take a greater and greater risk that innocent people are put to death.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#8)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:55 PM EST
    I wish the Innocence Project or a similar group would take time to prove that innocents HAVE been put to death. I know they have very limited resources and feel they need to save the ones still on death row, but proving several cases of innocent people having been put to death might change more minds IRT the death penalty.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#9)
    by phat on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:56 PM EST
    This is a blatant attempt to steer the debate away from what most people find troubling with the death penalty. 1) Innocent people getting sentenced to death 2) The cost of the death penalty It's not even about deterrence. The facts about deterrence are stark. The death penalty does not deter murders. This is as clear as day. Even if you have large numbers of executions, it does nothing to deter any crime whatsoever. What's also as clear as day is that innocent people get sentenced to the death penalty. Most people find that troubling, as they should. Most people also find it difficult to stomach the enormous costs involved with the death penalty. Consider the estimates in Nebraska. It costs 3 to 4 million dollars just to prosecute a capital crime in Nebraska. We can't afford that. It gets worse in other states with more crowded dockets and such. This habeus corpus rule change is an attempt to hide these problems. It took years of tweaking the system to define the rules regarding habeus corpus appeals and the death penalty to get where we are today and they are still inadequate. Our justice system cannot continue to sustain any reliance on the death penalty. It's the largest failure in American public policy history. phat

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:58 PM EST
    There are so many clear cut guilty cases that the old appeal process is often a waste of taxpayers money
    . Allow me to paraphrase an old adage.... Tis better to waste a billion dollars on appeals for the guilty than to deny an innocent man an appeal that could save his life. To the right, it seems a few innocent lives taken by the state is an acceptable side effect of stream-lined death sentences. To me, one innocent life taken by the state is unacceptable. Regardless if we execute more murderers, less, or not at all; murders will be committed as long as man walks the earth. I'd rather we keep society's hands free of blood. The death penalty as detterence is a myth.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:58 PM EST
    Since 1977 blacks and whites have been the victims of murder in almost equal numbers, yet 80% of the people executed in that period were convicted of murders involving white people. Bureau of Justice statistics

    People of color comprise 43% of total executions, while only around 25% of population."-ACLU, 2/26/03

    We need to take a long look at this barbaric punishment, or, at the very least, a moratorium is called for.

    "People of color comprise 43% of total executions, while only around 25% of population." What an irrelevant and misleading statement, yet inflamatory just the same. For example, if the 25% of the population that is "of color" commits 43% of the murders, then the executions of murderers are color-blind. Regardless, the relevant question is: of those convicted of executable offenses, is there a higher percentage of "people of color" executed than "whites?" I don't know the answer, it may well be "yes," but at least the criticism would then be honest.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    It isn't at all misleading, unless you can believe that the 25% of the population that is not white are committing 43% of the murders in this country. I do not. Do a little research on this, and you'll see why I do not.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#14)
    by roy on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    Regardless, the relevant question is: of those convicted of executable offenses, is there a higher percentage of "people of color" executed than "whites?"
    Even that isn't the right question. Among people convicted of executable offenses, are black offenders more likely to be repeat offenders? More likely to leave iron-clad evidence? Less likely to have or offer up co-criminals to get a deal? Less likely to have a condition qualifying them for an insanity plea? The right question -- whatever it is -- won't be answered with some chart you find through Google. Nobody seems to have done the research necessary to prove one way or the other, just enough to support the gut feel that things aren't fair. All the more reason to impose a moratorium and a proper study, IMHO.

    cheetah, huh? I don't think you read what I wrote very well. Anyway, apparently you've done the research, can you answer my question? "Of those convicted of executable offenses, is there a higher percentage of "people of color" executed than "whites?" If 43% of those convicted of executable offenses are "of color" then the executions are not racist. But we won't know unless we can answer the question. It's a much purer measure of racism in executions than some extrapolated statistics from population data.

    Actually, roy, my gut feeling is that there are groups - like the ACLU - that are very heavily invested in this issue and have done the research neccessary. It's not rocket science. Trouble is, my gut feeling tells me, their research didn't give them the answers that fit their agenda well enough which is why they published some lame apples-to-oranges statistic like the one we are discussing instead of heading to the Supremes with their case.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    I read what you wrote just fine. I don't believe that statement is misleading or irrelevant. You might, but I do not. If you want to learn more, do some research . It's very enlightening.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#18)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    Your gut feeling? Don't you know how to do research? Why go by "gut feelings" on something this important? And the ACLU isn't the only group who does studies on this topic. Our Gov. does some, and several other groups. Do some studying. Do some research, and not meerly a "Google search". If it was your life on the line, would you want us to go on "gut feelings"?

    Cheetah - yes, in response to roy's comment about gut feeling, I gave my gut feeling. I readily admit it. Your comments, absent any data or supporting references, despite telling us that you've done the research, have no more value than anyones else's gut feeling. If you have an answer to my question, with references of course, I'd love to see it. As I said, the answer may well be "yes." And, although I didn't say it, if there is provable racism in executions, I would be all for fixing the problem, and if fixing it includes the moratorium you speak of, so be it. I have no dog in this fight. My gut feeling though, if there is provable racism in executions - and not just a "gut feeling" - then it would have been in front of SCOTUS by now. It's not like the data to make such a case is secret or anything.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#20)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    Now, take a deep breath, calm down, and do some reading on the subject. That's all I'm saying to you. If you don't want to do that, then leave it alone.

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    Now that's one of the only things Republicans and I agree on!

    Re: Republicans Try to Speed Up Death Penalty (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    I merely posted two pieces of data, and references to who did each study. If you have a problem with their data, tell it to them, the Bureau of Justice and the ACLU, not to me. If you want to know more, do your own research. I'm not your secretary.