David Kirkpatrick

December 18, 2008

Anti death penalty message from outgoing Mississippi judge

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:46 pm

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.