Tuesday, November 09, 2004
The Original Governator
In the first part of this discussion, I pointed out how interesting it was that President Bush aligns himself with Pro-Life movements, how scary it is that voters actually buy it, and how he seems to have missed a golden opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade. In this next discussion, we'll take a look at his role in capital punishment in the State of Texas. If you have any questions about the death penalty in general, I linked the Department of Justice Statistics for Capital Punishment to the title of this posting.
Another example of Bush's Pro-Life crusade involved his role as Governor of Texas. During his tenure from late-1994 - 2000 Bush went on the equivalent of a Texas-sized killing spree. The link lists the names and crimes of those who were executed during his tenure. While Governor of Texas, Bush denied commutations to life sentences and subsequent stays of execution for a large number of the 150 death row inmates who were executed during that 6 year period.
I'm sure a lot of people are thinking: Good. That's what the death penalty should be. None of this 10 years of appeals, taking up space in our jails (that have CABLE nonetheless). The problem with the death penalty in this country is not the appeals process. Our problem is that we kill poor people, mentally ill people, minorities and we're one of the only countries with states where we can execute people who were minors when they committed their crimes or who are mentally retarded.
If you look at the Department of Justice statistics on Capital Punishment, it becomes apparent that a rich white person is very unlikely to receive the death penalty, while a poor mentally ill minority American is about 20 times more likely to be given a sentence of death. Maryland provides a clear example. Although there were 6000 homicides in Maryland between 1978-1999 and 85% of those homicide victims were African-American, 100% of the inmates on death row in Maryland killed white people. 75% of those on death row were black. I don't have a problem with people paying for their crimes, but I do have a problem with the way we hand out executions in this country.
Despite similar patterns in many other states, including Texas, Governor Bush oversaw more executions than any other STATE has allowed since capital punishment was re-initiated back in 1976. The recent decision in Illinois to commute death row inmates sentences to life without parole because of the significant injustices present in the system, makes Bush's killing spree as Governor particularly troubling.
Regardless of one's view on capital punishment, I think it's safe to say that someone who is Pro-Life wouldn't relish overseeing the executions of 150 people, but maybe the voters' definition of morality in the exit polls doesn't include killing people.
In other news, John Ashcroft is leaving the Bush Administration to start a band with Ted Nugent. Check out the link here. The band apparently doesn't have a name yet, but I will start a list of names on this site.