I am strongly anti-death penalty; strongly. Time after time, study after study, has shown that the death penalty does not deter crime, and is, in fact, more costly to the taxpayer than life in prison. With all the appeals and avenues open to a Death Row inmate, all of which are publicly funded for the most part, it should not be an option. Give the murder life in prison; no movies; no exercise yard; no library. Since they took the rights of one person, or more, away, strip them of all their rights, but don't murder them and call it justice.
And for the love of the goddess, don't murder them in my name.
That's kinda how Virginia Governor Tim Kaine sees it. Since 2006 he has vetoed fifteen bills that would expand that state's death penalty. Sadly, though, the next governor, Republican Bob McDonnell has a different take.
McDonnell, who takes office January 16, says he will sign into law the expansions that lawmakers have supported in recent years, particularly a provision that would make accomplices eligible for the death penalty. McDonnell's commitment to expanding executions won't lead to many new death sentences actually, but it's sad to see a new governor bucking a trend and expanding the death penalty.
Aside from this news, there have been signs that even Virginia, usually a death penalty diehard, would see a slowdown of executions. Although four people were executed in Virginia in 2009--second only to Texas, which executed 18 people--Virginian juries handed down just one new death sentence this year. That's a promising start.
And the good news is that the momentum on capital punishment is clearly going in the opposite direction of McDonnell. New Jersey and New Mexico repealed their death penalty laws in the last two years and Kansas may follow suit this year. New Hampshire hasn't executed anyone since 1939 but handed down its first death sentence in decades this year, and their House of Representatives passed a repeal bill in 2009, though they eventually settled for the creation of a commission to study capital punishment in the state. But it seems as though New Hampshire will do away with the death penalty in 2011.
Then we have Montana, which passed a bill repealing the death penalty via a Republican-controlled [you read that right] state senate in 2009, but the House failed to pass a counterpart. There is hope for passage in the next year.
In Connecticut a bill was passed in 2009 repealing the death penalty, only to see it vetoed by Governor Jodi Rell. Since she won't be seeking re-election , repeal advocates could bring a new bill before the next governor in early 2011.
Illinois has had a moratorium on executions since Governor George Ryan cleared death row in 2003, but the state has continued to fill death row cells with new prosecutions. A bill to repeal the death penalty passed a House committee this year and then floundered.
Maryland narrowed its death penalty to only allow executions with DNA or video evidence, but Governor Martin O'Malley wants a full repeal.
So, even though this new Virginia governor is headed one way, it seems as though a good many states understand the the death penalty does not work. Criminals do not think of the consequences in the moments before they commit any heinous act, and it has been proven that it is not sot-effective to continue lethal injections or gas chambers or, yes, they are still around, electric chairs.