Letters to the Editor: June 6 – 12, 2019
Dem Incumbents Troubling Support of Death Penalty
In preparing to vote in Falls Church’s Democratic primary on June 11, it has been disturbing to discover that both incumbent Democrats — state senator Dick Saslaw and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos — are passionate defenders of the death penalty.
Saslaw, in particular, has been a forceful proponent of Virginia’s embarrassing execution system: in 2015, he sponsored an execution secrecy bill to hide lethal drug makers from public scrutiny; in 2016, he promoted an attempt to bring back the electric chair; and just this year, he bragged about being a “pretty strong proponent of capital punishment.” When I spoke with Saslaw a few months ago about how groups like the NAACP are opposed to the death penalty, he was surprised to hear that death penalty abolition is a racial justice issue.
Perhaps Saslaw and Stamos should read the Democratic Party’s national platform, which lays out the case for abolition clearly and forcefully: “[The death penalty] has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment… The application of the death penalty is arbitrary and unjust. The cost to taxpayers far exceeds those of life imprisonment. It does not deter crime. And, exonerations show a dangerous lack of reliability for what is an irreversible punishment.”
Death penalty abolitionists are on the verge of ending this shameful American institution — and pro-execution Democrats should not be standing in their way.
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