Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Conservatives ask Rick Perry to halt execution of Scott Panetti

He's running for president, so I kinda doubt he hears this plea.

A group of conservative leaders is mounting a last-minute effort to stop Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) from executing inmate Scott Panetti, arguing that killing "one of the most seriously mentally ill prisoners on death row in the United States" would "undermine the public's faith in a fair and moral justice system."


Twenty-one conservative leaders have joined with mental health and death penalty reformers in opposing the execution, asking Perry in a recent letter to commute Panetti's sentence to life in prison. Signatories included former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, conservative activist Brent Bozell and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer.


(Yesterday) the (Texas Pardons and Parole) board unanimously voted against delaying Panetti's execution for 180 days and recommending to Perry that his sentence be commuted.

Perry's office did not immediately return a request for comment on whether the governor agreed with the board's decision or on whether he was considering a 30-day stay.

More than 93,000 people have signed an online petition asking Perry to grant Panetti clemency. He also has the support of his ex-wife and former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

Abby Johnson, an anti-abortion activist, wrote in a recent Dallas Morning News op-ed that opposing Panetti's execution is a pro-life position.

"A fundamental tenet of the pro-life ethic is that all life has value and we are called to protect it, especially in its most vulnerable forms. A culture of life recognizes the value of those who are vulnerable and prioritizes safeguarding them," she wrote.

"By setting an execution date for Panetti, Texas is going entirely contrary to what we expect in a society that truly values life," Johnson added. "This proposed execution shows a troubling disregard toward the reality of mental illness and protecting those who suffer from it."

Mother Jones reporter Stephanie Mencimer noted that it's "unusual for conservative Christians to support a clemency petition like Panetti's."

If there was ever a time that the governor would be able to demonstrate some human qualities -- i.e., compassion, forgiveness, a conscience perhaps -- now is his chance.  But he's running for president, and Bill Clinton failed to take the right path at this crossroads in 1992, so I'm not expecting Rick Perry to do anything differently.

Update (12/3): Of course I wasn't expecting the Fifth Circuit to do anything at all, but they did. Here's Wonkette with the snark.

In a fit of temporary sanity, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a stay of execution for Scott Panetti... 

Now that the 5th Circuit has stepped in, Perry can continue to be silent on Panetti and keep hoping that taking a position one way or the other won’t hurt him with 2016 Republican primary voters. (We are joking, of course — Perry’s chances would only be hurt if he backed off from executing anyone, ever.)

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