Race and the Death Penalty

Lots of folks are discussing what Barack Obama had to say about the Supreme Court's death penalty decision (and 90% of it through the prism of how this might influence the outcome of the campaign).

I thought I'd remind everyone what Justice Thurgood Marshall (NAACP counsel during the civil rights struggle and first African American on the US Supreme Court) had to say, concurring in FURMAN v. GEORGIA, 408 U.S. 238 (1972) (excerpt below, discussing the 14th Amendment implications of the death penalty):

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The death penalty doesn't work - but kill them anyway

There's been handwringing about Senator Obama's opposition to the recent Supreme Court decision denying the death penalty for child rapists. The senator's opinion on this ruling is entirely consistent with his previous statements. Here's one documented by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:

http://pewforum.org/religion08/compare.p hp?Issue=Death_Penalty

Obama says the death penalty "does little to deter crime" but he supports it for cases in which "the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage."

So, since child rape (as opposed to the rape of grown women or men) is so reviled by the community, the death penalty is to be imposed...even though it doesn't work.

Am I missing something here?

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Exonerated but Uncompensated, and Other Top Stories in Criminal Justice Reform

Here are the top stories in criminal justice reform, taken from the  Justice Newsladder.

Dean Cage become the 29th Illinoisan inmate to be exonerated by DNA testing. Cage could be entitled to about $150,000 in compensation from the state for his wrongful conviction, but the governor must sign a pardon for innocence before he can get it. Gov. Blagojevich has yet to grant a pardon to the dozen or so exonerees who have petitions before him. (suntimes.com)

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Nine exonerees speak out in Texas, and the other top stories in criminal justice reform this week

Here are the top stories in criminal justice reform, taken from the Justice Newsladder.

Nine DNA exonerees told their stories at the Texas state Capitol last week, underscoring the state's need for an innocence commission; Texas has had 33 DNA exonerations, more than any other state, and yet Dallas County is the only one of Texas's 254 counties that stores biological evidence in all criminal cases. (dallasnews.com)

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Supreme Court OVERTURNS Roe v. Wade

The diary title freaked you out a little, didn't it? Read on to understand how that could become a reality . . .

I was in the McDonald's drive-thru this morning (grabbing some unhealthy breakfast) when an important but disturbing Nina Totenberg segment aired on NPR's Morning Edition. The story quickly reminded me of why we need a DEMOCRAT in the White House, and why we can't afford to have John McCain reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

The Supreme Court heard a major death penalty case today that tested whether capital punishment is constitutional for the rape of a child. I oppose the Death Penalty across the board, but it isn't a hot-button issue for me (that would be censorship). I know that both Democratic Presidential Candidates support some form of the Death Penalty, and I accept that they can't oppose this issue for political reasons.

I listened to Totenberg's segment, and was deeply sympathetic for the children that were victimized by this heinous crime. I have three young children, and would most likely have the same feelings as the father of a victim:

The test case before the court began on March 2, 1998, when Patrick Kennedy called 911 to report the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter.

"I need an ambulance," Kennedy said. "I need police. My little girl ... is 8 years old. She was off in the yard and she said two boys grabbed her and raped my child and I'm trying to find these motherf**** because I am going to kill them."


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