Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Criminal Injustice

Georgia legislators are debating a bill that would make it easier for judges to issue a death sentence. Apparently, some members of the Georgia House are concerned that their state is not killing enough people. The AJC has details:

The bill, which was filed Friday, would give judges the discretion to impose the death sentence on nonunanimous jury verdicts in which at least nine jurors voted for execution.

That means verdicts of 9-3, 10-2 and 11-1 could lead to a death sentence. HB 185 does not change the requirement of a unanimous jury needed for conviction.

Prosecutors say the change will help them secure death penalty verdicts, which are increasingly difficult to get as questions mount over the imposition of capital punishment in the United States.

There are many reasons that securing death penalty verdicts is difficult, the foremost being that a human life is at stake. If the state insists on its right to kill its citizen, it needs to exercise restraint.

Hat tip: my sister Whitney of Georgia

Meanwhile in Tampa a rape victim, upon reporting being raped, was jailed on an old warrant related to a 2003 theft arrest. The unidentified woman claims that she had already paid restitution for that arrest, and she has no criminal record as an adult. Making matters worse, according to the AP:

While she was behind bars, a jail worker refused to give her a second dose of the morning-after contraceptive pill because of the worker's religious convictions, the college student's attorney said.

In the jail worker's defense, her lawyer says that she "is prohibited from giving inmates any medication without specific orders," and she claims to have never discussed religion with the rape victim.

I don't know if any one person can be held accountable hereā€”the law enforcement personnel involved likely had limited powers, followed the rules, and did their jobs. But jailing a rape victim on the day she was raped for a minor crime she committed as a juvenile is inexcusable.


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