Perry is frightened of something — either an investigation into the execution of Cameron Willingham, potentially an innocent man, or more likely he’s running scared of Kay Bailey Hutchison running against him in a primary fight for a new term as governor of Texas. This move gives Kay Bailey one more stick to beat him up with.
Good riddance to the worst governor Texas has seen in my lifetime. He’s one of the dimmer bulbs out there and has been a blight on Texas politics for far too long.
From the second link:
Last week, Perry announced he would not reappoint Chair Sam Bassett and two other members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, which is looking into the probe that led to the execution of Cameron Willingham — despite strong evidence that he may have been innocent. The panel members terms had expired.
Perry himself, as governor, had signed off on the 2004 execution, leading critics to charge that the decision on Bassett — who had appeared to push for an aggressive inquiry into missteps in the original probe — was an attempt by the governor to short-circuit an effort that could have been politically damaging as he faces a tough re-election campaign.
Now, the Star-Telegram of Forth Worth reports that just weeks before Perry opted not to re-appoint Bassett, the chair of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, which recommends nominees to the panel, had written to Perry to urge him to reappoint Bassett, whose tenure was expiring.
Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, Jr., lost his re-election bid this year and soundly berated the death penalty, particularly how it is administered in Mississippi in his final death penalty opinion.
From the Hit & Run link:
Diaz has also seen the criminal justice system from the other side. During his term he was twice tried—and twice acquitted—in federal court of taking bribes, charges critics have said were politically motivated, and part of the Bush administration’s politicization of the Justice Department. He lost his bid for reelection last November.
Mississippi actually has been surprisingly slow in executing people off Parchman Penitentiary’s death row. But it’s not for a lack of trying. The state has been repeatedly rebuked by the federal courts for adopting illegal jury instructions, providing insufficient and underpaid public defenders (by state law, they can receive no more than $1,000 per case), and other inadequate protections in death penalty cases. I suspect (and hope) we’ll also soon see the federal courts sending scores more cases back for a new trial because of the improper testimony Dr. Hayne and Dr. Michael West.
Reason’s Radley Balko perfectly sums up my exact thoughts on the death penalty:
I’m opposed to the death penalty not because I don’t think there are some crimes so heinous that they merit death as a punishment. I’m opposed to it because I don’t think the government is capable of administering it fairly, competently, and with adequate protections to prevent the execution of an innocent person.
Here’s a post from Jacob Sullum over at Reason mag’s Hit and Run on a blasphemy case in Afghanistan. In no way can this action from Afghan officials be considered part of the enlightened, modern world.
From the article:
An Afghan court has sentenced Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh, a 23-year-old journalism student, to death for downloading and distributing an article critical of Muhammad’s views on women’s rights. Disturbing as that news is for anyone who thought the U.S. had freed Afghanistan from the oppressive rule of brutal theocrats, the reaction of Kambakhsh’s defenders is in some ways even more troubling ( … )