Thinking Citizen Blog — Saturday is Justice, Freedom, Law, and Values Day
Today’s Topic — the Federal Death Penalty
On July 14, 2020, the Supreme Court vacated the District Court injunction staying the execution of four criminals on Federal death row. The vote was 5 to 4 and was a “per curiam” (or unsigned) opinion. Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented. So far three of the four criminals have been executed. Today, two contrasting views and some background. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
“END THE FEDERAL DEATH PENALTY NOW” — Boston Globe
1. “A Gallup Poll in November found a record-high 60 percent of Americans prefer life without possibility of parole as a “better penalty for murder” than the death penalty. In the same poll, conducted in 1998, only 29 percent preferred life in prison to execution.”
2. “Nearly half of the nation’s murder victims are Black, though Black people make up about 13 percent of the population. Yet 73 percent of death penalty sentences stem from cases involving only white victims. And the majority of death row inmates are people of color.”
3. “The Trump administration is flouting the will of a majority of states that have either outlawed capital punishment on a state level, or that have implicitly rejected it by declining to impose it in decades.”
NB: “For example, no execution has taken place in Massachusetts since 1947, and the state’s death penalty law was struck down by the state’s highest court in 1984. Subsequent efforts to reinstate capital punishment have failed on Beacon Hill.”
THE DEATH PENALTY CAN ASSURE THAT “JUSTICE IS DONE” — Jeffrey Rosen, DOJ
1. “On July 14, Daniel Lewis Lee was executed for the 1996 murder of a family, including an 8-year-old girl, by suffocating and drowning them in the Illinois Bayou after robbing them to fund a white-supremacist organization.”
2. “On July 16, Wesley Perkey was executed for the 1998 murder of a teenage girl, whom he kidnapped, raped, killed, dismembered, and discarded in a septic pond.
3. “The next day, Dustin Honken was executed for five murders committed in 1993, including the execution-style shooting of two young girls, their mother, and two prospective witnesses against him in federal prosecution for methamphetamine trafficking.”
NB: Rosen notes that Clinton signed the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994, that Timothy McVeigh was executed under George W. Bush, that the Obama administration called for the death penalty in the cases of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Dylann Roof, and that Assistant Attorney General Eric Holder re-affirmed the decision (made originally by Janet Reno) to seek the death penalty for Daniel Lewis Lee. For Rosen, the legality of the federal death penalty is crystal clear. And what weight should the principle of proportionality have in the debate over its morality? Can there be true justice without it?
FEDERAL EXECUTIONS SINCE 1963
1, Timothy McVeigh, 2001, bombed federal courthouse killing 168 and wounding 680.
2. Juan Raul Garza, 2001, “murder of Thomas Albert Rumbo, ordering the murders of Gilberto Matos and Erasmo De La Fuente in conjunction with a drug-smuggling ring. Also a suspect in the murders of Antonio Nieto, Bernabe Sosa, Diana Flores Villareal, Oscar Cantu, and Fernando Escobar Garcia. “
3. Louis Jones, 2003, Rape and murder of Pvt. Tracie McBride, USA.
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to justice, freedom, the law or basic values. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to justice, freedom, the law, or basic values. Or just some random justice-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart.