What is your opinion of the death penalty? How important is this issue in deciding which political candidates you support?
This is a tough one. I've covered death penalty trials and talked to convicted killers. And, yeah, some of them deserve to die and I wouldn't shed a single tear. These tend to be people like Jesse Timmedequas who pretty much admitted he murdered Megan Kanka because he thought that if she lived he might get arrested again and no longer be able to rape little girls. Ditto for Robert Marshall who had his wife killed because his mistress would give him head and his wife, Maria, would not. And, John List, who killed his entire family, disappeared for 20 years, started a new family and was preparing to kill them as well. And, of course, the Oklahoma City bombers had it coming.
That said, these are not the type of people we tend to execute. Instead we execute young junkies who fuck up robberies of 7-11s, the poor and the mentally disabled. So, in a perfect system where we had sane juries and competent defense attorneys and could remove issues of race and class from the decision making process I'd be in favor of the death penalty.
But, we don't. An example of this is that the only execution stayed by George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas was that of Henry Lee Lucas, who killed somewhere between 350 and 600 people simply because it amused him. Shockingly, he was a white male and able to attract good attorneys simply because of his fame.
I also think that we shield people too much from the death penalty itself. A more honest society would have the executions made public, which would allow people to make a more informed decision as to whether or not they really support the death penalty in reality and not just the abstract. And, we don't allow for the idea of mistakes or fate. If it was up to me we'd put the condemned in a football stadium with a sword, a lion at the other side of the stadium and and obstacle course in between. If the guy lives for an hour, he'd get life. And the pay per view revenue alone might pay for universal health care.
So, no, in it's current form I don't support the death penalty. But, if the system could be reformed I probably would.