PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Stop the Capital Punishment Hypocrisy

BY DAVID M. KINCHEN

Among the hundreds of news stories marking the 500th execution in Texas since the state resumed them under new guidelines in 1982, one from The Nation stood out for its excellent writing. http://www.thenation.com/article/175008/outside-texas-death-chamber#axzz2XRdQmDjD.

I have no particular opinions on the death penalty, although if anyone deserved it, it was No. 500, Kimberly McCarthy who murdered her 71-year-old neighbor Dorothy Booth. From the AP story, widely used among the 647 entries I saw on Google News, it was a particularly heinous crime, deserving of the death penalty if any crime is (link: http://www.khou.com/news/local/213307641.html): Kimberly McCarthy, who was put to death for the murder of her 71-year-old neighbor, was also the first woman executed in the U.S. in nearly three years.

“McCarthy, 52, was executed for the 1997 robbery, beating and fatal stabbing of retired college psychology professor Dorothy Booth. Booth had agreed to give McCarthy a cup of sugar before she was attacked with a butcher knife and candelabra at her home in Lancaster, about 15 miles south of Dallas. Authorities say McCarthy cut off Booth’s finger to remove her wedding ring.

“It was among three slayings linked to McCarthy, a former nursing home therapist who became addicted to crack cocaine.”

A personal note: I was born in Michigan, which has the distinction of being the first English language jurisdiction to abolish capital punishment: from Wikipedia: “Michigan’s death penalty history is unusual in contrast to other States. Michigan was the first English-speaking government in the world to abolish totally the death penalty for ordinary crimes. The Michigan State Legislature voted to do so on May 18, 1846, and this has remained in law since. Although the death penalty was formally retained as the punishment for treason until 1963, no person has ever been convicted or indeed tried for treason against Michigan, and therefore Michigan has not executed any person since statehood.”

I’m against hypocrisy in any form, so stop picking on a state, Texas, where I’ve lived since the summer of 2008. Those opposed to the death penalty who live in states with capital punishment (32 as of June 27: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/states-and-without-death-penalty) should put their money where their mouth is and lobby to have the state legislature do away with the death penalty.

I’m especially talking to you, California, where I lived and worked as a newsman from 1976 to 1992. Maryland was the most recent state to abolish capital punishment, this past May. Illinois, where I grew up after leaving Michigan, abolished it in 2011. California is as blue as can be, so the state should join Illinois and Maryland and abolish the death penalty — if that’s what the people want.

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