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Politicians Exploit Death Penalty

State-level lawmakers are using proposed death penalty legislation for political purposes rather than to deter crime, said the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty on October 9, 1991.

The group released its annual survey of state legislation on the volatile issue, finding 183 bills in 41 states relating to the implementing, expanding or repealing of capital punishment.

"This legislation is not introduced because our elected lawmakers want out streets to be safer, but because they want to inflame and polarize the votes," said Leigh Dingerson, director of the group. "Our elected officials spend vast amounts of time and energy engaging in an ultimately self-indulgent game of drafting and sponsoring death penalty legislation, not because it's good law, but because it's perceived as good politics.

An example of such a law might be the one introduced in Texas that calls for executions to be "carried out at noon on the courthouse steps in the county where the offense occurred."

Dingerson said the bills filed this year were rarely debated and rarely passed but they are a harbinger that the death penalty will be used in the forthcoming elections campaigns. She said the death penalty is becoming a so-called wedge issue, designed to break up traditional voting blocks by appealing to fear or racial animosity.

From: Corrections Today

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