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Death penalty foes woo conservatives

Posted by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 2:54 PM
  • 8 Replies

Isn't it a contradiction to be anti-choice but pro-death penalty?


Death penalty foes woo conservatives

But will mainstream GOP agree that it's as "immoral as abortion"?

Roy Brown seems like a rarity -- a conservative who's against the death penalty.

But to Brown, a state senator and the 2008 Republican nominee for governor of Montana, the philosophy aligns perfectly with conservative ideology. He's one of the more high-profile figures reaching out to other social and fiscal conservatives, hoping to create a bipartisan movement against capital punishment.

"I believe that life is precious from the womb to a natural death," Brown said.

The Roman Catholic church has long been an organized and vocal critic of the death penalty, but the new effort is trying to bring in other conservatives shaped by both evangelical faiths and political ideology.

Now, liberals and conservatives -- longtime opponents on contentious social issues from abortion to capital punishment -- are working together in a time of strong political polarization.

The effort took center stage at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty's annual conference over the weekend in Louisville. Brown was joined by a conservative minister, the Rev. Matt Randles of Headwaters Coventant Church in Helena, Mont., and Heather Hass, a former National Republican Congressional Committee staffer. They walked fellow activists through how to make their case to others about the anti-death penalty movement.

Shari Silberstein, executive director of Equal Justice USA, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based anti-death penalty organization, said working with conservatives is about common sense and common ground.

"It's not really an ideological question," Silberstein said.

The effort has been backed by Richard Viguerie, a fundraiser and activist considered the father of the modern conservative movement. Viguerie, in a July 2009 essay in Sojourners magazine, wrote that executions are supposed to take the life of the guilty -- but noted there are enough flaws in the system to fear an innocent person has been put to death.

Viguerie noted that death row inmates have been exonerated by DNA evidence, raising the prospect that prosecutors and juries made mistakes in cases without scientific evidence and in cases that predate the science.

"To conservatives, that should be deemed as immoral as abortion," Viguerie wrote.

And as lawmakers continue to slash budgets because of the slumping economy, many are wondering whether the price tag of the death penalty and the resulting drawn-out legal process is worthwhile. The winding series of appeals often runs up huge legal bills for states, which many advocates say is often more expensive than the cost of life imprisonment.

In 2007, New Jersey and New Mexico became the 14th and 15th states to abolish the death penalty. Ten other states have considered repealing it in recent years.

Kansas lawmakers have four days of hearings scheduled later this month to consider abolishing executions in the state, based in part on cost. And a Duke University professor concluded that North Carolina could save $11 million a year if it halted the death penalty.

"Criminals should be prosecuted," Brown said. "I want it to be life without parole. In the long run, that's much cheaper."

Not all conservatives are open to Brown's pitch. Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation and an outspoken capital punishment supporter, said most of the costs of a death penalty case come from "exhaustive investigation" of the defendant's background and should be cut out.

"I think those who are falling for this line are misguided," Scheidegger said. "The death penalty does not need to cost more than life imprisonment."

While there are no hard numbers on how many conservatives have joined the anti-capital punishment campaign, those involved say it's a growing movement.

"I am so sick of American polarizing politics," said Laura Porter, director of organizing for the Equal Justice USA. "I think we all have a lot more in common than is ever acknowledged."

Brown knows not everyone will agree with him, but he and other death penalty opponents are willing to take small gains.

"There are some people I'm not going to convince," Brown said. "That's all right. I'm not trying to win over the world."

------------

On the Web: http://www.ncadp.org/

by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 2:54 PM
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blondekosmic15
by Platinum Member on Jan. 18, 2010 at 3:12 PM

I am prolife against abortion & I am against the death penalty for moral & spiritual reasons. To compare the 2 issues is not based on an equal moral level b/c a lil' baby is w/ out guilt when the mother & the Dr. end it's life. The death penalty is pronounced upon violent criminals who have plenty of guilt due to their horrific offenses against humanity which they are convicted of. As I mentioned I do not support the death penalty b/c we live in a Nation that has the means & judicial system to lock the perp up & throw away the key. I do understand why many Americans believe in the DP...I just do not conform to this acceptance. I deeply respect all human life & I firmly believe in restitution for one's crimes but not @ the hands of another person pulling the switch or ending a human being's life intravenously. JMHO~

glitterteaz
by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 3:28 PM

I hink some people deserve to die and this man was the for runner in my opinion may he rott!!!

Bobby Woods

Bobby Wayne Woods, 44, was executed by lethal injection on 3 December 2009 in Huntsville, Texas for the abduction and murder of his ex-girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter.

In the early morning hours of 30 April 1997, Woods, then 31, went to the home of his ex-girlfriend, Schwana Patterson, 35, in Granbury, which is in Hood County, southwest of Fort Worth. Patterson had kicked Woods out a few days earlier. Her two children, 11-year-old Sarah and 9-year-old Cody - were sleeping inside. Woods crawled through an open window into the children's bedroom. He grabbed Sarah's foot and began beating her chest, then sexually molested her. Woods then forced both children to leave through the window in their nightclothes, put them in his car, and drove to a cemetery. There, he beat and stomped Cody on the head and strangled him. With Cody unconscious, Woods then drove away with Sarah. Cody later awoke, crawled over a fence, and attracted the attention of a horseback rider, who called the police.

Based on Cody's statement, police found Woods and asked him where Sarah was, hoping to find her alive. Woods answered, "You will not find her alive. I cut her throat." He then led them to her body. She was clothed in an inside-out shirt, a sports bra, and a pair of shorts, without underwear. Her throat had been deeply cut, severing her larynx and several major blood vessels. The cause of her death was extreme blood loss.

Cody had surgery to remove skull fragments from his brain.

The physical evidence against Woods included his semen on Sarah's blanket, a pair of her panties on his car's floorboard, and a trash bag containing a large butcher knife - covered with Sarah's blood - and a pawn ticket bearing Woods' signature and address for items from the Pattersons' home. Woods also had scratches on his face and arms at the time of his arrest. He and Sarah also shared the same sexually transmitted disease - the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Woods gave two statements to police. He admitted to having sexual contact with Sarah before leaving the house. He said that after Cody fell unconscious in the cemetery, Sarah started screaming. He took her away in the car, where she continued to yell, and said that she would tell the police he hit Cody. Woods said that he attempted to quiet the girl by holding a knife to her throat, but she "jerked real hard", and the knife cut her.

At Woods' trial, which was moved because of news coverage to Llano County, northwest of Austin, Cody testified that he awoke to his sister's screams. On the way to the cemetery, he noticed a black-handled knife in the back seat of the car. At the cemetery, Woods asked him whether his mother was seeing anyone else.

Testifying in his own defense, Woods stated that while talking with Cody in the cemetery about his mother, he "popped" him in the head "pretty hard" with the palm of his hand about three times. Cody fell back, hit his head on a fence post, and fell unconscious. He then put Sarah in the car and began driving back to his house, where his cousin, Jody Milton, lived with him, because Milton "would know what to do." Milton then drove off with Sarah. The next day, Milton told Woods he thought the girl was dead, and took him to her body.

Jody Milton hanged himself a few days after the murder.

Woods denied that he told the police, "I cut her throat". He testified that he told them, "Her throat's been cut". He stated he had trouble reading some words and that his signed, typewritten statements did not accurately reflect what he told the police.

On cross-examination, the prosecutor challenged Woods' claim that he could not read very well by confronting him with the fact that he had checked out over a hundred books while awaiting trial in the Hood County jail. "I asked for books so I could see if I could find any I can read," Woods answered.

Woods had no prior criminal record.

Sarah's diary was admitted into evidence at Woods' punishment hearing. Two months before her murder, she wrote, "Dear Diary. Guess what? Bobby moved out and we are so, so, so, so happy." In another entry, she wrote, "I don't like Cody, and I hate Bobby." She also wrote that she contracted HPV from him.

A jury convicted Woods of capital murder in May 1998 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in 2000. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied, including a series of appeals claiming that he was ineligible for execution because of mental retardation.

Woods was also convicted of the attempted capital murder of Cody Patterson and was given a life sentence for that crime.

Sources differ on whether the children's mother, Schwana Cletus Patterson, was home when they were taken. According to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' summary of Woods' case, she was not. According to newspaper reports, however, prosecutors alleged that she was home and heard her children screaming, but failed to help them. She was arrested and charged with serious injury to a child by omission - a first-degree felony. A jury convicted her in September 1998 and sentenced her to 23 years in prison. On appeal in August 2001, her conviction was reduced to a second-degree felony, and her sentence was reduced to 8 years in prison. She was paroled in March 2005, and was released from parole supervision upon the expiration of her sentence in September 2006.

Woods' original execution date in January 2008 was stayed because of a temporary nationwide moratorium on lethal injections while the U.S. Supreme Court was considering the constitutionality of the procedure. He also avoided a second scheduled execution date in October 2008 when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to a stay so his mental competency could be evaluated again.

In preparation for Woods' trial, the defense had hired a psychologist, Pita, who interviewed Woods and administered several tests designed to measure mental retardation, mental illness, and competency to stand trial. Woods scored 70 on the IQ test. On a test called Street Survival Skills Questionnaire (SSSQ), which measures a person's ability to function independently, Woods scored a 95. Pita also gave Woods a test called Competence Assessment for Standing Trial for Defendants with Mental Retardation (CAST*MR). On that test, where defendants who score 54% or lower are presumed to be incompetent to stand trial, and 74% or lower are presumed to be mentally retarded, Wood scored 100 percent. Based on his evaluation, Pita concluded that Woods was not mentally retarded and was competent to stand trial.

At Woods' trial, the defense called a different psychologist, Landrum. Landrum did not interview Woods or administer any tests, but he was given a copy of Pita's report. Landrum also reviewed Woods' handwriting samples, jail records, work history, and a statement from Woods' grandmother. Based on these records, Landrum testified that Woods "is, and always has been, always will be, a mentally retarded person."

In a hearing before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in October 2009, both sides again presented their arguments and additional tests and expert testimony regarding Woods' intelligence. The appeals court decided, in an 8-1 vote, that the additional evidence presented before them supported the trial court's finding that Woods was not retarded.

In an interview from death row prior to his scheduled execution date in October 2008, Woods said he did not plan to harm the children. "I took the kids out, and we were horsing around," he said. "We went walking around graveyards, horsing around by a fence. Cody jumped on my back and hit a fence post." After that, Woods said, "I guess I panicked." He still blamed Sarah's murder on his cousin.

Woods' execution was delayed for about half an hour while the U.S. Supreme Court considered and rejected a final appeal from his lawyers claiming that he was mentally retarded and that his previous lawyers' work was faulty.

At his execution, when the warden asked Woods if he had a final statement, he lifted his head from the gurney and said, "Bye. I'm ready." The lethal injection was then started. He was pronounced dead at 6:40 p.m.

BigOlMommy
by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Well, I'm pro-choice & anti-death penalty... figure that one out! LOL

Jessymessy
by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 3:51 PM

anti-choice, I just love how people spin things! And I am PRO-choice PRO-death penatly

blondekosmic15
by Platinum Member on Jan. 18, 2010 at 4:15 PM


Quoting PamR:

 

Isn't it a contradiction to be anti-choice but pro-death penalty?


Death penalty foes woo conservatives

But will mainstream GOP agree that it's as "immoral as abortion"?

Roy Brown seems like a rarity -- a conservative who's against the death penalty.

But to Brown, a state senator and the 2008 Republican nominee for governor of Montana, the philosophy aligns perfectly with conservative ideology. He's one of the more high-profile figures reaching out to other social and fiscal conservatives, hoping to create a bipartisan movement against capital punishment.

"I believe that life is precious from the womb to a natural death," Brown said.

The Roman Catholic church has long been an organized and vocal critic of the death penalty, but the new effort is trying to bring in other conservatives shaped by both evangelical faiths and political ideology.

I am a Catholic Christian & the Church has spoken against the death penalty for obvious moral reasons. But sadly Democrats will attempt to equate the DP w/ abortion which is not reasonable b/c the Church firmly warns that abortion is 1 of the 4 non-negotiable sins & the DP is not deemed a necessity for remaining in God's grace. Yes, all human life is precious but as the Church has repeatedly stated unequivocally....a lil' baby in the mother's womb has every right to life * they are completely helpless when their life is violently taken & they have never committed a sin. The DP does not = a non-negotiable sin if a Catholic supports it for the purpose of justice or to protect society from these violent offenders.

Now, liberals and conservatives -- longtime opponents on contentious social issues from abortion to capital punishment -- are working together in a time of strong political polarization.

The effort took center stage at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty's annual conference over the weekend in Louisville. Brown was joined by a conservative minister, the Rev. Matt Randles of Headwaters Coventant Church in Helena, Mont., and Heather Hass, a former National Republican Congressional Committee staffer. They walked fellow activists through how to make their case to others about the anti-death penalty movement.

Shari Silberstein, executive director of Equal Justice USA, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based anti-death penalty organization, said working with conservatives is about common sense and common ground.

I agree that as Americans we need to work together for measures of equal justice for all. Opening the door to acceptance of any immoral practice against human life will gradually tear @ the virtuous & sustainable fiber of that Nation.

"It's not really an ideological question," Silberstein said.

The effort has been backed by Richard Viguerie, a fundraiser and activist considered the father of the modern conservative movement. Viguerie, in a July 2009 essay in Sojourners magazine, wrote that executions are supposed to take the life of the guilty -- but noted there are enough flaws in the system to fear an innocent person has been put to death.

Viguerie noted that death row inmates have been exonerated by DNA evidence, raising the prospect that prosecutors and juries made mistakes in cases without scientific evidence and in cases that predate the science.

"To conservatives, that should be deemed as immoral as abortion," Viguerie wrote.

Yes, this has always troubled me considerably that sometimes the innocent will be sent to death due to a fallible justice system. But I continue to say that the DP does not = abortion ........50 million since Roe v Wade Jan. 22, 1973. The Anniversary of R v W is approaching in a few dayz. 37 yrs. I believe.

And as lawmakers continue to slash budgets because of the slumping economy, many are wondering whether the price tag of the death penalty and the resulting drawn-out legal process is worthwhile. The winding series of appeals often runs up huge legal bills for states, which many advocates say is often more expensive than the cost of life imprisonment.

I agree...

In 2007, New Jersey and New Mexico became the 14th and 15th states to abolish the death penalty. Ten other states have considered repealing it in recent years.

I would like to abolish the DP & abortion~

Kansas lawmakers have four days of hearings scheduled later this month to consider abolishing executions in the state, based in part on cost. And a Duke University professor concluded that North Carolina could save $11 million a year if it halted the death penalty.

I realize the economical aspect of housing criminals in the prison system & following thru w/ the judicial process may be costly but I never place my disapproval of the DP based upon the cost of these measures but solely due to the fact that a human life is in play here...

"Criminals should be prosecuted," Brown said. "I want it to be life without parole. In the long run, that's much cheaper."

I agree....locked up & the key thrown away if the crime warrants this sentence.

Not all conservatives are open to Brown's pitch. Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation and an outspoken capital punishment supporter, said most of the costs of a death penalty case come from "exhaustive investigation" of the defendant's background and should be cut out.

"I think those who are falling for this line are misguided," Scheidegger said. "The death penalty does not need to cost more than life imprisonment."

While there are no hard numbers on how many conservatives have joined the anti-capital punishment campaign, those involved say it's a growing movement.

I have been reading this for the past few yrs. now. There seemingly is a trend in this direction.

"I am so sick of American polarizing politics," said Laura Porter, director of organizing for the Equal Justice USA. "I think we all have a lot more in common than is ever acknowledged."

Hopefully...

Brown knows not everyone will agree with him, but he and other death penalty opponents are willing to take small gains.

"There are some people I'm not going to convince," Brown said. "That's all right. I'm not trying to win over the world."

No one has the power to win everyone's opinion....but standing firm w/ one's principles & beliefs is a good place to start esp. when it involves the moral fabric of a Nation. JMHO~

------------

On the Web: http://www.ncadp.org/


Lil_ol_me9306
by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 4:39 PM

Quite frankly, I'm all for the death penalty in cases like the one Glitter pointed out.  Kill the bastards that rape little girls and children.  They don't deserve a heartbeat.  I'm also pro choice.

PamR
by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Obviously, the death penalty and abortion are two very different things.   I agree with BK (whaaa????) that as we have the ability to lock the person up forever, we should do this.  It has nothing to do with whether or not they deserve to die for what they have done; rather, should any government commit murder in retailiation for a crime?  As far as cost of housing a criminal for life, it has been shown to be more expensive to follow through on a sentence of death.

 

atlmom2
by Susie on Jan. 18, 2010 at 5:34 PM

I am (liberal) conservative and I am pro choice and pro death penalty. 

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