LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — After running for governor as a supporter of the death penalty, Gov. Mike Beebe said Wednesday that the experience of signing a death warrant for the first time caused his thinking on the issue to "evolve" and that he would sign legislation outlawing the punishment if legislators were to send him such a bill.
The Democratic governor doesn't plan to make repealing the death penalty part of his legislative agenda for this year's session, nor does he intend to ask any lawmaker to introduce such legislation, Beebe's spokesman, Matt DeCample, said. Several top lawmakers said it's unlikely legislators would propose a death penalty repeal.
Beebe said he changed his mind about the death penalty after having to sign his first death warrant.
"The awesome burden of being the last person to have to sign one of those things sobers you differently than talking about it in the abstract," Beebe said.
His remarks came in response to an audience question during his appearance at the Political Animals Club meeting at the governor's mansion.
Since taking office in 2007, Beebe has approved four executions, but none of those have been carried out because of various court challenges.
In signing the death warrants, Beebe said, he pored over "every word of the testimony" in search of a "scintilla" of doubt about the conviction. He said in all four cases, his review of the court papers convinced him of the person's guilt but that the experience of having to sign the order shifted his feelings about the death penalty.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013