Wednesday, December 03, 2003


The highlights:

Sjodin case spurs Pawlenty to push for death penalty
by Michael Khoo, Minnesota Public Radio

Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he'll push for a Minnesota death penalty next year as part a program to combat sex crimes. Pawlenty's statement comes a day after a recently released sex offender was arrested in Crookston in connection with the disappearance last month of a 22-year-old woman. Minnesota hasn't had a death penalty case in more than 100 years, and opponents say they'll fight to keep it that way.

....The governor says he's long supported a state death penalty, and that the apparent abduction of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin has only rekindled that conviction.

"When you have somebody who is raping or attempting to rape a woman and trying to kill them or killing them, in my view that's the type of individual that's probably not curable and shouldn't be out on the streets in a free society. So I'd like to see -- I support the death penalty. And I would support the death penalty in a case where we have a sexual assault and a murder or attempted murder," he said.

...Sandra Babcock, a nationally recognized death penalty defense attorney, says she understands the shocked reactions that many have to news of abductions and abuse. But she says Pawlenty's proposal runs counter to a recent national trend away from capital punishment.

"He's swimming against the tide; he's swimming against reason. He wants to take the state back to a time in its history in which, I think the state has rejected the death penalty for many decades. There's absolutely no reason to bring it back," says Babcock.

Babcock says other states have reconsidered their death penalty statutes in light of new evidence on innocent people being wrongly executed. (Ed. Note: I think this is a blatant falsehood. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty, none of the 882 folk executed have been retroactively found to be innocent. Scores of people on death row, but none who have paid the ultimate price.)