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Interest and Perspective

Our views depend on our priorities and the information we receive

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Clinton vs. Obama on the Death Penalty

Obama seems a reticent supporter of executions. Clinton, as on most issues, seems to be a chameleon.

Running for U.S. Senate, Obama said he favored the death penalty for only the most heinous of murders, such as serial killing. But Obama qualified his stance, saying that his support eroded further when looking at how the death penalty "is currently administered in this country." All three candidates agreed that the capital punishment system should be overhauled. ICADP.

Sen. Kucinich's website labels Obama, Clinton, and Edwards pro-death penalty, to varying degrees. Obama andClinton both voted to prevent funds from being available to assist countries that refuse to extradite individuals to the US because of the moral objections of those countries to the death penalty. "Apparently, this is one of Obama's shifting positions." Bill Richardson, from all appearances already an also-ran this cycle, had the worst record according to Kucinich (which he does).

Amy Goodman reported in summer'04 that Obama "was involved very intimately in drafting and passing legislation that requires the video taping of police interrogations and confessions in all capital cases. And he also was one of the co-sponsors of this very comprehensive reform or the death penalty system in Illinois, which many people say may trigger the retreat on the death penalty in many other states."

In 1998, Obama supported policies to implement penalties other than incarceration for certain non-violent offenders, increase state funds for programs which rehabilitate and educate inmates during and after their prison sentences, and provide funding for military-style "boot camps" for first-time juvenile felons.

This quote from Clinton in 1994 shows her stance on general criminal law issues clearly: "We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. The three strikes and you’re out for violent offenders has to be part of the plan. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets."

OTOH, Clinton sponsored the federal Innocence Protection Act, allowing federal funding for DNA testing of evidence used in capital cases.

I wasn't able to find a good quote of her stance on executions per se. The Village Voice, though, notes her "unbending" support. But hey, just lick your finger, put it in the air, and feel the breeze - that's where Hillary will blow.

By the way, Bill Clinton, while campaigning for President, flew back to Arkansas to witness the execution of a mentally retarded man whom he had denied clemency, Rickey Ray Rector, a 40-year-old black man convicted of killing a black police officer. After shooting the cop, Rector shot himself in the head and damaged his brain. On the way out of the death cell, the inmate was asked if he wanted to finish his pie. He said he'd finish it when he came back.

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