Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year, Continuing Commitment

This morning the Dallas Morning News chose as a major goal for the year 2008 of ending the death penalty. Its crusade to recognize the inhumanity of taking lives in the face of mounting proof that sentencing is deeply flawed has earned the News great respect.

Formerly, the Dallas paper ended its 100 years of support for death penalties, and since that time it has continued to show attention to the mounting evidence that death penalties are apt to take innocent lives.

Texas continues to lead the nation in execution numbers, now more spectacularly than ever. This year marks the first time that our state's execution total exceeds half the national toll. Texas must stop the ghastly practice of killing people, especially considering the flaws that DNA has exposed in the criminal justice system.

What needs to happen next: Change ultimately must come about in the Legislature, a major obstacle. Last year lawmakers expanded use of the death penalty to cover sex offenders against children. The law is of dubious constitutionality but reflects pro-death penalty sentiment in Austin.

That places responsibility on citizens to pressure lawmakers after examining the facts and their consciences. They should reflect on recent polling that suggests Texans overwhelmingly think innocent people have been executed but believe the death penalty should remain on the books. That's a moral outrage.

Faults in the criminal justice system have been highlighted in Dallas County, where 14 wrongly convicted people have been discovered through DNA testing. As a step in the right direction, the state House should join the Senate in support of a proposed state innocence commission that would examine wrongful convictions and propose fixes.

Lawmakers should also follow the lead of states like New Jersey and form a special commission to examine application of the death penalty, including whether the practice should continue. And the state should impose a moratorium on executions until the commission's work is done.

You can help to bring about the end to our death penalty, and our barbaric practice, by your comments in support of their stand.

Celebrate the New Year and help us end the death penalty in Texas, at its low point, so that this relic of the Dark Ages can be wiped out in its last holdouts in the civilized world.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe, one day, common sense and justice will indeed prevail, instead of revenge. China dwarfs the US in numbers btw, but Iran is the clear winner for cruelty, see here.

10:28 AM  

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