Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Is this truly the best way to keep things moving?

Skepticism abounds regarding proposal to "speed up" the execution process.

read more digg story

The so-called Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act has proven to be nothing but a sham effort to speed up the death penalty process. It seems that when evidence surfaces that challenges the efficacy of capital punishment, instead of addressing the problem, legislators enact legislation that accomplishes just the opposite. In exchange for giving up the right to habeas corpus review, resources were promised to improve the quality of representation in capital cases. So in exchange for expediency, a constitutional avenue to reveal flaws in the capital trial process was denied to death-row inmates. The problem is that the promised resources have never materialized, thus ineffective legal counsel, especially for indigent defendants remains a constant threat to the legitimacy of the legal system.

Now comes an individual with a proven record of playing politics with the death penalty, who will usurp the role of federal judges in managing death penalty cases. We must have had too many cases of innocence or too many cases reversed on appeal, so the federal government wants to speed up the appeals process so the executions can be conducted before new evidence can be introduced or more cases reversed.

The immediate problem is that a person with questionable integrity but a clear motivation will soon be handed additional power. The long-term problem is that speeding up the death penalty process (which is a misnomer), regardless of who is attorney general, will not increase the fairness -either to the inmate, the victim, the family, or to citizens - because this revision to the process does nothing to address the fundamental flaws that continue to plague the manner in which capital sentences are administered in this country.

Congress should put a stop to this and quickly.

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