[Hpn] Shaheen steadfast on death penalty

Bill Tinker wtinker@fcgnetworks.net
Wed, 26 Apr 2000 14:45:21 -0400


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Shaheen steadfast on death penaltyGroup,et al!
Do we have a right to kill someone else as a act that is reserved for the
LORD?
Should the DEATH penalty be a reality or should it be abolished?
A Brother
Bill
###########################################


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           Tuesday, April 25, 2000

                  Shaheen steadfast on death penalty

                  By DAN TUOHY

                  N.H. Statehouse Writer

                  CONCORD ó Bud Welch halted Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in the
stairwell Monday after she told a Senate committee why she supports the
death penalty.

                  In a heartfelt plea, Welch showed the governor a photo of
his daughter Julie, who was killed in the bombing of the Oklahoma City
federal building in 1995.

                  "This is my daughter," he said in a Southern accent.

                  "Sheís beautiful," the governor replied.

                  "The death penalty is about revenge and hate," Welch said,
"and revenge and hate is why Julie and 167 others are dead today."

                  He looked Shaheen in the eye. The governor stared
earnestly back. "The issue for me isnít revenge," she said. "Itís not
something that Iíve come to lightly."

                  And after saying her stand is not about "political
expediency," Shaheen and her entourage continued to descend the stairs, a
not-so-quick exit interrupted by other survivors who offered similar pleas
as Welch.

                  Welch, returning to the Senate Judiciary Committee that
heard five hours of testimony Monday, was pleased to have his private
audience with the governor. "I have confidence that she can eventually be
moved," he said.

                  He may be overconfident.

                  Shaheen still says she will veto the death penalty
abolition bill ó if it gets to her desk.

                  "We have one of the best criminal defense bars in the
country," Shaheen told the Senate Judiciary Committee. Though New Hampshire
has not executed anyone in 61 years, Shaheen said she would have prosecuted
Carl Drega under the death penalty statute if he had lived after his
"murderous rampage" in Colebrook.

                  The Senate is now considering House Bill 1548, which would
eliminate the death penalty and make New Hampshire the first state to
abolish executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. The House
passed the bill by a 191-163 vote March 9.

                  More than 100 people showed up to support abolishing the
death penalty. They included relatives of murder victims like Welch,
religious and human rights leaders, legal experts, and people who spent
years on death row before being exonerated.

                  Sponsors of the bill are Reps. Jackie Weatherspoon,
D-Exeter, Jim Splaine, D-Portsmouth, Loren Jean, R-Litchfield, Jacqueline
Pitts, D-Portsmouth, and Betsy Shultis, D-Portsmouth; and Sen. Burt Cohen,
D-New Castle.

                  Hamptonís Renny Cushing, executive director of Murder
Victimsí Families For Reconciliation, said New Hampshire has a chance to
lead the nation by coming forward to abolish the death penalty. "Itís a
statement on where New Hampshire wants to be," he said. "We hope she
(Shaheen) reconsiders, to be on the right side of history."

                  Others were also perplexed with the governorís position.
"I think it is a misinterpretation on her part of what being tough on crime
is," said Splaine.

                  Jean said it seems Shaheen dismisses the fact that a
justice system is not 100 percent perfect and that innocent people could be
killed. "Where is she coming from?" Jean asked, as Cohen stood nearby
shaking his head. "Blood lust does not equal justice," Cohen added.

                  Others testifying Monday argued that there is no evidence
that the death penalty deters crime; that lengthy prison terms cost the
state less; or that society can be adequately protected through standard
imprisonment.

                  Kirk Bloodsworth, who spent eight years on death row in
Maryland after being falsely convicted of raping and murdering a 9-year-old
girl, told the Senate committee that House Bill 1548 is not about the guilty
who need to be protected, but about the innocent being protected. Even with
DNA analysis, which exonerated Bloodsworth, there is much room in the
justice system for error, he said. "We have to raise ourselves above the
pound of flesh society weíve become," said Bloodsworth.

                  Weatherspoon said the death penalty is a major issue among
African Americans as well, because more blacks are on death row than any
other ethnicity. She spoke of New Hampshire being a leader on a cause for
the 21st century. The Rev. Jack Lyons of the United Church of Christ
testified that the death penalty is incompatible with the belief and power
of redemptive love. Rep. Jane Kelley, D-Durham, put it more succinctly. "Ití
s wrong to take a human life in any circumstance," she said.

                  Joshua Rubenstein, New England director of Amnesty
International, said the death penalty is a major, human rights cause that
America is ignoring. "It is the ultimate form of torture," he said.
Rubenstein said 85 percent of executions in 1999 occurred in five countries:
China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and America. And
since the death penalty was reinstituted in 1976, 87 innocent people have
been released from death row, according to Rubenstein, who called the
statistic unacceptable.







      © 2000 Geo. J. Foster Co.



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