Wednesday, February 7, 2007
From USATODAY.com: At least a half-dozen states are considering broadening the death penalty, countering a national trend toward scaling back its use.
Lawmakers have proposed legislation that would increase the range of crimes eligible for execution. In Texas and Tennessee, for example, legislators want to include certain child molesters who did not murder their victims.
"The hope is that these monsters will see that Texas is serious about protecting children," says Rich Parsons, spokesman for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Dewhurst, a Republican, is working with state senators to draft legislation that would make repeat offenders subject to capital punishment in some cases. "If they understand they could face the ultimate punishment, " they might "think twice," Parsons says.
Virginia is considering bills that would make accomplices to murder, as well as killers of judges and court witnesses, eligible for the death penalty.
"I'm a believer in the deterrent effect of the death penalty," says Republican Delegate Todd Gilbert, a state prosecutor who sponsored two of the measures. "I know a number of states are reconsidering their position on the death penalty. … I feel confident Virginia's system is set up to work."
Lawmakers or courts have temporarily halted all executions in 11 states in the past year, most of them over concerns that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, says Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, which he says takes no position on the death penalty but has been critical of how it is applied. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]