W.Va. lawmaker pushes death penalty
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With neighboring Maryland about to become the sixth state in as many years to abolish the death penalty, one West Virginia delegate is on a quixotic quest to resume executions in his state for the first time in a half-century.
This year marks the 27th in a row that Republican Delegate John Overington has introduced a bill to reinstate capital punishment. It has rarely progressed far and is unlikely to pass this year, even with the minority GOP steadily making gains in the legislature. Still, Overington said he will continue pushing such bills because he thinks the state would be better served if it could execute convicted murderers.
“You want to live in a just society that is fair, and capital punishment, if somebody is murdered, I think there's a perception that you have fairness if that person is put to death,” Overington said. “It sort of adds to the fairness of our society and helps make it work. If you feel that our justice system is fair, it helps you believe in it.”
Since 2007, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Illinois and Connecticut have abolished the death penalty. In Maryland, the legislature has passed a bill repealing the death penalty, and the governor has promised to sign it. There are official moratoriums on the death penalty in California and Oregon, and there are legislative efforts to repeal the death penalty in at least 14 other states.
West Virginia abolished the death penalty in 1965 and has not executed a prisoner since 1959.
Overington isn't worried about bucking that trend because he says the public supports capital punishment. He proudly points to faded newspaper clippings in his office with poll results showing majorities of West Virginians favor capital punishment. And every year, Overington sends everyone in his district a “citizens' poll” soliciting their opinions on current issues; he said capital punishment always gets overwhelming support.
Other than Maryland, all of West Virginia's neighbors still have the death penalty — and Overington said he fears that West Virginia invites killers by not having capital punishment as a deterrent. However, the state's homicide rate for the past 10 years is lower than that of all neighboring states, according to FBI data.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Damaged Jersey shore pier to be rebuilt
- Supreme Court allows Obamacare’s Medicare costs board to stand
- Military leaders leery of letting in transgenders
- GOP budget proposal guts federal spending, health care
- Experts skeptical of N.D.’s new oil train safety checks
- Indiana governor wants changes to religious-objection law
- Mysteries of dark matter come to light in Science study
- A revolt is growing as more people refuse to pay back student loans
- Appalachian miners wiped out by coal glut they can’t reverse
- Benghazi panel formally requests private interview with Hillary