Senator Seeks A Moratorium Against Government Killings
Feingold Introduces The National Death Penalty Moratorium Act
Senator Feingold continues to show more leadership than any other senator in the United States.
The National Death Penalty Moratorium Act of 2000 (S. 2463)
On April 26, U. S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced the National Death Penalty moratorium Act of 2000. This bill would impose a nationwide moratorium on executions while a commission undertakes a thorough and comprehensive review of the death penalty. Feingold's bill calls on the federal government and all states that impose the death penalty to suspend executions until the commission completes its report and those jurisdictions implement policies and procedures that are consistent with ensuring that death sentences, if imposed at all, are administered fairly, impartially, and in full accordance with the law of the United States. A blue ribbon commission would study the death penalty and make recommendations on how to fix flaws in the administration of capital punishment at both the federal and state levels.
"My bill requires that before executing even one more person, the federal government and the states must ensure that not a single innocent person will be executed, that we have eliminated discrimination in capital sentencing on the basis of the race of either the victim or the defendant, and ensure that we provide for certain basic standards of competency of defense counsel," Feingold said. "Let us pause to be sure we are being fair. Let us pause to be sure we are being just. Let us pause to be certain we do not kill a single innocent person. This is not too much to ask of a civilized society."
To facilitate this review, Feingold's bill would establish the National Commission on the Death Penalty. "Questions about the fair administration of the death penalty can only be answered with an impartial, independent review. My bill provides a proposal for this independent commission. It would be a balanced commission -- not chock full of death penalty foes or death penalty supporters but would represent different viewpoints on the issue."
(Publisher's note -- would a commission investigating Mafia extortion operations have to include several supporters of extortion? Would a commission looking into kidnapping laws need to include several supporters of kidnapping?)
Other nations, including some of the U.S.'s closest allies, have established national commissions to review the death penalty. In the 1950s, Great Britain created the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment and the Canadian Parliament established a joint committee of their Senate and House to review capital punishment. "I believe it is time for the United States to undertake a national review, too," Feingold said.
Recently, ardent death penalty supporters like Reverend Pat Robertson and columnist George Will, have acknowledged that serious defects exist in the charging, prosecution and sentencing of defendants with the death penalty.
This past January, Governor George Ryan (R-IL), a supporter of the death penalty, announced a moratorium on the execution of death row inmates in Illinois until an inquiry can been conducted into why innocent people are being condemned to Illinois' death row. Following Governor Ryan's decision, Feingold called on the President and the Attorney General to impose a moratorium on federal executions and undertake a comprehensive review of the administration of the federal death penalty to ensure that the federal system is consistent with fairness, justice and due process. That request is currently under consideration by the President and the Attorney General.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) has introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives, the Accuracy In Judicial Administration Act of 2000 (H.R. 4162).
Related Articles:Fred Foldvary on The Death Penalty
That bill number, once again, is S. 2463. Care to send a thank-you note to Senators Feingold and Levin? You can send notes to them from their WWW sites, which are:
http://www.senate.gov/~feingold/ for Feingold
http://www.senate.gov/~levin/ for Levin
Do all governments have the right to kill you? How did they get that right? What if you are innocent and they made a mistake? Tell The Progress Report:
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