Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pursuing the death penalty

The Wall Street Journal last week published a front-page story about the increasing willingness of the Justice Department to demand the death penalty, even in cases where the local prosecutors might disagree.
At a time when many states are backing away from capital punishment, the federal government is aggressively pursuing -- and winning -- more death sentences, including in jurisdictions that traditionally oppose them.

On Tuesday [January 30], federal prosecutors in New York persuaded a jury to give a death sentence to Ronell Wilson, a 24-year-old man convicted of killing two undercover detectives by shooting each in the back of the head. The decision -- the first time in more than 50 years that a federal jury in New York agreed to sentence someone to death -- marked something of a milestone for the Justice Department in its continuing effort to apply the death penalty more evenly across the country.

Today, there are 47 people on federal death row -- more than double the number six years ago -- and Mr. Wilson this week became the seventh sentenced in a state without a death statute of its own since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988. The ranks may grow in the months ahead, with several capital cases on tap in locales traditionally opposed to the death penalty.

You can read more here.