Wednesday, September 11, 2013

DEATH PENALTY DELAYS


Although I try to follow the old dictum “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything,” I sometimes (maybe even often) fail to live up to it. I’m about to say something uncomplimentary about our attorney general who, for reasons of convenience, got an execution postponed. Her reason for doing so, as I understand, was to accommodate a fundraiser she was holding on the original date of the execution. She couldn’t be at both, so she postponed the more important event. This example of misplaced priorities raises a question in my mind: If her judgment is so flawed in this area, how flawed is it in other areas? Do we need an attorney general with such abominable judgment?

I began working on the case which she postponed back in 1988 when I was called to the scene of the crime and observed the recovery of the victim’s body and the preservation of the evidence. It was not pleasant. Two years later, I presented the case to a jury and asked them to recommend the death sentence and asked a judge to impose it. I assisted in any way I could with another prosecution which resulted in another death penalty for the same offender. I saw firsthand the anguish of two families whose daughters had been brutally murdered. Those families will never have closure until the execution is carried out, and our state government owes it to them to see that the execution is carried out as expeditiously as possible.
Any politician who, because of considerations of political advantage, causes a delay in that process deserves censure. That politician deserves a double dose of censure if, as is the case here, that politician is familiar with the death penalty process and knows firsthand the anguish caused to victims’ families when the process is delayed.
The death penalty which has been delayed is the result of one of the best, most professional law enforcement efforts I have ever been involved in. Officers from multiple agencies in Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, and the Federal level showed a level of competence, cooperation, and professionalism unequaled in my 30+ years of experience in the criminal justice system. Multiple prosecutors' offices in two states (Tennessee and Florida) showed a remarkably high level of cooperation and courtesy in working together to obtain two death penalties and to see to it that they were upheld. Now we have (hopefully) come to the end of a much-delayed 25 year process, and it gets delayed one more time because someone wants to attend a political fundraiser. I don't think I will be contributing to her campaign.