"The death penalty is not what it used to be," is Wesley Pruden's commentary in today's Washington Times. He's the paper's editor emeritus.
The leader of the modern movement to abolish death row is a man who spent nearly a decade waiting for execution for a crime he did not commit. Kirk Noble Bloodworth — his very name is something that Charles Dickens might have bestowed on one of his characters — was convicted on flimsy evidence of raping and killing a 9-year-old girl. He was eventually cleared by DNA evidence, but not before the state fiercely resisted him at every step of the way. Since he walked free, he has campaigned to abolish the death penalty in every state where it is still prescribed.
Mr. Bloodworth, once a Marine, was arrested when a neighbor saw a police sketch of the man suspected of the crime and thought it looked like him. She called the cops, who were under great public pressure to find a killer, and they arrested Mr. Bloodworth. A quick trial followed, and he was soon on death row.
Mr. Bloodworth does not appear to be bitter over his ordeal. “Nobody knew what DNA was,” he told The New York Times the other day, as he campaigned in support of Maryland abolition, “it was sort of shaman science, a ‘get out of jail free’ card.” But challenging judicial bungling is no board game; the courts have no monopoly on justice.
Several years ago, a governor of Illinois commuted the death sentences of every prisoner on death row when he discovered, through DNA analysis, innocent men awaiting execution. When I wrote in praise of the governor’s courage, I was inundated with angry letters. One man wrote that he agreed that an innocent man might rarely be executed, but he thought it “an acceptable price to pay.” I offered to forward his letter to the governor, as a volunteer to pay the acceptable price if the governor ever needed one. He was not amused.
Kirk Bloodsworth also appeared on the MSNBC program Jansing & Co. "Maryland moves closer to abolishing death penalty," is the post by Bryan Weakland.
Maryland could be just weeks away from abolishing the death penalty. Several state lawmakers are expressing optimism they can repeal capital punishment. Hearings in the state House and Senate are scheduled for February 14th.
“I think people are finding out that the death penalty does not work, whether it’s Maryland or any of these other places that have abandoned the practice,” said Kirk Noble Bloodsworth on Jansing & Co., an advocate for abolishing the death penalty.
“One good thing about Maryland is we have appropriation within the bill that the savings from the death penalty would go to the victims crime fund,” said Bloodsworth. “It’s one of the only packages that’s ever been put together like this. It would really help people.”