Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Our Virginia affiliate weighs in

On Wednesday, Virginia state lawmakers will gather in Richmond for a "veto session." They will decide whether to override Gov. Tim Kaine's veto of five bills that would expand the death penalty.

Jack Payden-Travers, executive director of Virginians for Alternatives to the death penalty, weighed in with this published article.

Let the 'triggerman' veto stand

Did I miss something or did Jerry Kilgore win the election?

When you are No. 2 out of 38 death penalty states, can anyone really accuse you of not using the death penalty often enough? Unfortunately, that is what is happening in the 2007 General Assembly, where a majority of our state legislators have voted to expand the death penalty.

Fortunately, we have a governor who knows the truth and in his courageous veto of all 5 death penalty expansion bills, said "Virginia is already second in the nation in the number of executions we carry out."

While the nature of the offenses targeted by this legislation are very serious, I do not believe that further expansion of the death penalty is necessary to protect human life or provide for public safety needs.

"Virginians made a choice not to expand the death penalty when we elected Tim Kaine over an opponent who had campaigned to do just that. In his last term as attorney general, Kilgore introduced the Death Penalty Enhancement Act, the cornerstone of which was the elimination of the "triggerman rule." It failed to pass in 2005. But two years later that is the very bill that Kaine just vetoed. Did I miss something or did Kilgore win the election?

On Wednesday, the General Assembly reconvenes to consider the governor's amendments and vetoes of legislation passed in the 2007 session. I know who I voted for as governor. I know that one of my reasons for doing so was that I did not want to see any further expansion of the death penalty in my state.

I hope that when the senators and delegates return to Richmond they will reconsider their initial votes to unwisely waste tax dollars on an increased number of capital trials.

Even proponents of the death penalty know that it is not a deterrent to murder. We are no safer after 98 executions than we were before.

Expanding death-eligible crimes and increasing capital indictments will only divert needed resources away from the citizens of Virginia, including victims' family members and law enforcement officers.

A vote to uphold the vetoes is not a vote against the death penalty. It is a vote to stop an unnecessary and expensive expansion of capital punishment in Virginia.

(source: Editorial, Roanoke News----Jack Payden-Travers. Payden-Travers, of Lynchburg, is director of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.)

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