The Battle Over South Dakota’s Justified Homicide Bill

South Dakota‘s proposed “justified homicide bill” has been withdrawn for the time being, but don’t be surprised if it returns like cow flop on a South Dakota rancher’s boots.

What’s the controversy? Read from the bill for yourself, “Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.”

Some proponents of the bill, including bill sponsor and anti-abortion advocate Rep. Phil Jensen (R-South WTFistan), claim the bill has nothing to do with abortion. Opponents, and even some advocates believe that’s hogwash – and if you can read, that seems a reasonable interpretation – and doubt that it’s legally sound.

Legal wrangles over abortion have gone non-stop since Roe v. Wade became the basis for the law of the land, but the nation rarely looks at the pretzel logic behind the legality debate.

Pro-lifers often argue a fetus is a full-blown human being and that it’s justified, if not morally correct, to perform a sort of vigilante capital punishment on abortion providers because they’re “murderers”. So if self-appointed juries can mete out capital punishment for “murdering” abortion providers, how can many of those same people support state-sponsored capital punishment.

Even if one wraps themselves in the cloak of religion, how’s it possible to cite the 6th commandment without caveat – Thou shalt not kill – as the basis for killing an abortionist while ignoring it when a capital criminal walks the Green Mile?

And for the record, pro-lifers could reverse this tangle of law and morality to bash the other side. After all, why is it OK for pro-choice advocates to argue it’s OK to terminate a pregnancy, but are equally inflamed about abolishing capital punishment.

The legality of this issue is valid, but it’s a dicey legal case that’s spread beyond just the courtroom. For years, both sides have short-sightedly used Roe v. Wade as a one-issue litmus test for judge approval to the exclusion of all other issues. Judges should be made up of more than this one issue.

Abortion is a tough nut, a moral and legal tangle whipped raw by high emotion. There’s no perfect answer because it isn’t a zero sum issue with a clear winner or loser – no matter how much the opponents and proponents wish it would be.

Perhaps we’d all be better off to step back and think about this a little more dispassionately instead of counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pinhead.

Or, a South Dakota legislator.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

The Battle Over South Dakota’s Justified Homicide Bill

South Dakota‘s proposed “justified homicide bill” has been withdrawn for the time being, but don’t be surprised if it returns like cow flop on a South Dakota rancher’s boots.

What’s the controversy? Read from the bill for yourself, “Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.”

Some proponents of the bill, including bill sponsor and anti-abortion advocate Rep. Phil Jensen (R-South WTFistan), claim the bill has nothing to do with abortion. Opponents, and even some advocates believe that’s hogwash – and if you can read, that seems a reasonable interpretation – and doubt that it’s legally sound.

Legal wrangles over abortion have gone non-stop since Roe v. Wade became the basis for the law of the land, but the nation rarely looks at the pretzel logic behind the legality debate.

Pro-lifers often argue a fetus is a full-blown human being and that it’s justified, if not morally correct, to perform a sort of vigilante capital punishment on abortion providers because they’re “murderers”. So if self-appointed juries can mete out capital punishment for “murdering” abortion providers, how can many of those same people support state-sponsored capital punishment.

Even if one wraps themselves in the cloak of religion, how’s it possible to cite the 6th commandment without caveat – Thou shalt not kill – as the basis for killing an abortionist while ignoring it when a capital criminal walks the Green Mile?

And for the record, pro-lifers could reverse this tangle of law and morality to bash the other side. After all, why is it OK for pro-choice advocates to argue it’s OK to terminate a pregnancy, but are equally inflamed about abolishing capital punishment.

The legality of this issue is valid, but it’s a dicey legal case that’s spread beyond just the courtroom. For years, both sides have short-sightedly used Roe v. Wade as a one-issue litmus test for judge approval to the exclusion of all other issues. Judges should be made up of more than this one issue.

Abortion is a tough nut, a moral and legal tangle whipped raw by high emotion. There’s no perfect answer because it isn’t a zero sum issue with a clear winner or loser – no matter how much the opponents and proponents wish it would be.

Perhaps we’d all be better off to step back and think about this a little more dispassionately instead of counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pinhead.

Or, a South Dakota legislator.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

Japan Opens a Debate on Capital Punishment

Japan opened one of its execution chambers to the media for the first time on Friday, after the country's Justice Minister, Keiko Chiba, attended the hangings of two inmates in July and called for more debate on capital punishment. A series of false convictions have surfaced in recent months, including one of a 63-year-old man who had served 17 years of a life sentence for the murder of a 4-year-old girl. He was released after prosecutors admitted that his confession was a fabrication made under duress and DNA tests showed he was innocent.

Japan does not execute many prisoners compared to the United States. Since 1993, the country has carried out 43 executions. Seven were executed in 2009. By comparison, Texas executed its 16th prisoner of the year last week in Huntsville. The execution was the 224th in the administration of Governor Rick Perry. Texas has far and away the most active death chamber in America, accounting for more than 37 percent of the nation's post-Furman executions. Virginia ranks second.

Japan, however, has guarded its execution practices in secrecy for decades. Currently, there are 107 inmates on death row in Japanese prisons. Execution is by hanging. While the law says an execution must take place within six months after the sentence is finalized by the court system, in practice it usually takes several years. Among 30 executions that took place in the 10 years from 1997, the average period was 7 years and 11 months. Death row inmates are kept in solitary confinement in 7 detention centres throughout the country. Some inmates have been in solitary confinement for over 20 years. 

Death row inmates are notified on the morning of their execution day that they will be executed, usually about an hour before the execution. The UN Committee against Torture has criticised Japan for "the psychological strain" on inmates and their families over the uncertainty of the execution timing.

Keiko Chiba, the Justice Minister, is an opponent of the death penalty. She is taking this action now to foster a debate in Japan on capital punishment. She lost her seat in Japan's Upper House in July's elections and will thus be soon losing her post. 

There are 58 countries that still retain capital punishment, while 104 countries have abolished it and 35 have stopped executions in practice. Of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, only the United States and Japan use capital punishment. The 18 countries known to have conducted executions in 2009 were: Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Libya, Malaysia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, the United States, Vietnam and Yemen. 

More on this story at the New York Times.

Japan Opens a Debate on Capital Punishment

Japan opened one of its execution chambers to the media for the first time on Friday, after the country's Justice Minister, Keiko Chiba, attended the hangings of two inmates in July and called for more debate on capital punishment. A series of false convictions have surfaced in recent months, including one of a 63-year-old man who had served 17 years of a life sentence for the murder of a 4-year-old girl. He was released after prosecutors admitted that his confession was a fabrication made under duress and DNA tests showed he was innocent.

Japan does not execute many prisoners compared to the United States. Since 1993, the country has carried out 43 executions. Seven were executed in 2009. By comparison, Texas executed its 16th prisoner of the year last week in Huntsville. The execution was the 224th in the administration of Governor Rick Perry. Texas has far and away the most active death chamber in America, accounting for more than 37 percent of the nation's post-Furman executions. Virginia ranks second.

Japan, however, has guarded its execution practices in secrecy for decades. Currently, there are 107 inmates on death row in Japanese prisons. Execution is by hanging. While the law says an execution must take place within six months after the sentence is finalized by the court system, in practice it usually takes several years. Among 30 executions that took place in the 10 years from 1997, the average period was 7 years and 11 months. Death row inmates are kept in solitary confinement in 7 detention centres throughout the country. Some inmates have been in solitary confinement for over 20 years. 

Death row inmates are notified on the morning of their execution day that they will be executed, usually about an hour before the execution. The UN Committee against Torture has criticised Japan for "the psychological strain" on inmates and their families over the uncertainty of the execution timing.

Keiko Chiba, the Justice Minister, is an opponent of the death penalty. She is taking this action now to foster a debate in Japan on capital punishment. She lost her seat in Japan's Upper House in July's elections and will thus be soon losing her post. 

There are 58 countries that still retain capital punishment, while 104 countries have abolished it and 35 have stopped executions in practice. Of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, only the United States and Japan use capital punishment. The 18 countries known to have conducted executions in 2009 were: Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Libya, Malaysia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, the United States, Vietnam and Yemen. 

More on this story at the New York Times.

Japan Opens a Debate on Capital Punishment

Japan opened one of its execution chambers to the media for the first time on Friday, after the country's Justice Minister, Keiko Chiba, attended the hangings of two inmates in July and called for more debate on capital punishment. A series of false convictions have surfaced in recent months, including one of a 63-year-old man who had served 17 years of a life sentence for the murder of a 4-year-old girl. He was released after prosecutors admitted that his confession was a fabrication made under duress and DNA tests showed he was innocent.

Japan does not execute many prisoners compared to the United States. Since 1993, the country has carried out 43 executions. Seven were executed in 2009. By comparison, Texas executed its 16th prisoner of the year last week in Huntsville. The execution was the 224th in the administration of Governor Rick Perry. Texas has far and away the most active death chamber in America, accounting for more than 37 percent of the nation's post-Furman executions. Virginia ranks second.

Japan, however, has guarded its execution practices in secrecy for decades. Currently, there are 107 inmates on death row in Japanese prisons. Execution is by hanging. While the law says an execution must take place within six months after the sentence is finalized by the court system, in practice it usually takes several years. Among 30 executions that took place in the 10 years from 1997, the average period was 7 years and 11 months. Death row inmates are kept in solitary confinement in 7 detention centres throughout the country. Some inmates have been in solitary confinement for over 20 years. 

Death row inmates are notified on the morning of their execution day that they will be executed, usually about an hour before the execution. The UN Committee against Torture has criticised Japan for "the psychological strain" on inmates and their families over the uncertainty of the execution timing.

Keiko Chiba, the Justice Minister, is an opponent of the death penalty. She is taking this action now to foster a debate in Japan on capital punishment. She lost her seat in Japan's Upper House in July's elections and will thus be soon losing her post. 

There are 58 countries that still retain capital punishment, while 104 countries have abolished it and 35 have stopped executions in practice. Of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, only the United States and Japan use capital punishment. The 18 countries known to have conducted executions in 2009 were: Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Libya, Malaysia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, the United States, Vietnam and Yemen. 

More on this story at the New York Times.

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