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That the rate of imposition of the death penalty varies geographically could mean those areas of the State which have a (much) lower rate are not imposing it as often as they "should" or that the murder rate in those areas is so different that the need for the ultimate penalty is reduced or less significant. It does not mean that the penalty itself should be abolished just because it means different things in different parts of the State. Maybe we would like to think that a law enacted in Austin should have the same effect and meaning throughout the State, but no penal law yet placed in the books has achieved that goal. Those who commit a capital offense must simply take into account our trial venue tradition.

It is refreshing to see our State (its juries and prosecutors) vindicated by the numbers. Certainly the situation in California or Illinois seems far less fair (or logical) than our practice.
 
Posts: 2367 | Registered: February 07, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The Wall Street Journal ran an even more informative article on this study:

WSJ Link
 
Posts: 2416 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Who sets the benchmark on prosecutors who do not seek the death penalty as often as they "should," Martin? Some might argue that the geographical areas where the rate is higher seek death more often than they "should." Let's be honest about this. The death penalty is and is not sought in different counties for different reasons but let's not pretend that seeking death is not a much bigger deal in a small county than it is in a metropolitan office. The economic pressure not to seek death in a small county is tremendous. I am not suggesting that I think this somehow makes the death penalty unfair. This same concept applies to all cases, not just death penalty cases. I just don't think we should oversimplify the issue of why and how often prosecutors seek death in different jurisdictions.
 
Posts: 283 | Location: Montague, Texas, USA | Registered: January 26, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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When the Punishment Standards Commission began its work over a decade ago, the biggest complaint by liberals was the concept that different people received different punishments for the "same" crime. The differences could be accounted for by criminal history, community opinions, circumstances of the offense and other such rational grounds. Nonetheless, the complaint continued.

Then they all looked at the federal sentencing guidelines. And everyone said, "Yuck."

Seems that codifying one person's idea of the right punishment offends the sensibilities of another person's idea of the right punishment.

Thank goodness Texas retained jury sentencing. It is the only thing keeping us from homogenized sameness.
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Tim, I was not attempting to oversimplify. The economic pressures may indeed force a (rural) prosecutor to abandon the death penalty in what would be considered a deserving case if it had arisen at another place. I certainly agree (and was trying to say) this does not make the availabilty of the penalty unfair in those areas where it is more rigorously applied. If anything, it means some offenders are getting a break-- but that inequality is not a good argument for abolition. Yet, once race and Southern "out of touch" cruelty are defused as arguments, it appears the geographical claim is about all that is left.
 
Posts: 2367 | Registered: February 07, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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