How the execution of a mentally ill man who saved his last meal dessert "for later" delivered Bill Clinton into the Oval Office

The Death of Ricky Ray Rector Ricky Ray Rector grew up in Conway, Arkansas, just an hour’s drive from Bill Clinton’s own hometown of Hot Springs. From the very earliest days of his life, Ricky was considered different and strange. He had few friends, and while other children were out running around, Ricky sat under a tree playing alone with sticks. Those who saw him said he was dreamy and detached, “as if he were locked into some private daze of withdrawal.”

USA | 'They deserve death': Iowa lawmakers propose reinstating death penalty for people who rape and murder children

Iowa outlawed the death penalty in 1965.

Iowa lawmakers proposed a bill that would allow death sentences for people convicted of murdering a child after raping them.

It's been almost 6 decades since Iowa last executed a state prisoner, but a group of Republican senators feels one crime in particular merits a death sentence.

"I am someone that's not a big death penalty advocate, but, you know, I just say look at the case," Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale said. "I don't know how you could defend someone who raped and killed a child. To me, I think they deserve death because it's one of the most heinous crimes of any crime that's committed out there."

Zaun, one of 14 senators sponsoring Senate File 82, said he understands getting this legislation through both chambers and signed by the governor is an uphill climb, but feels there should be a tough penalty for anyone who rapes and murders a child.

"I have talked to a mother of a daughter that was brutally raped and killed," Zaun said. "I think that she, as well as all the other people — families — that are out there who have had this heinous crime committed against their loved one, we owe them the opportunity to at least have the conversation."

There are several groups that have declared they're opposed to the legislation, including the ACLU of Iowa.

"From the legal standpoint, it's just not an ethical approach," ACLU of Iowa Executive Director Mark Stringer said. "Iowa has long since settled the debate about the death penalty in our state by adopting life in prison without parole, and we feel that's the route that should be taken in these severe crimes."

A report from the ACLU found one person is exonerated after being sentenced to death for every 10 that are executed.

Half a century ago, Iowa had a death penalty. Let’s not go back.

Source: weareiowa.com, Staff, January 26, 2021

Iowa doesn’t need the death penalty

Iowa lawmakers have been pushing to reintroduce the death penalty, however, the death penalty has long been a cruel and problematic punishment.

Iowa lawmakers have recently pushed to bring back the death penalty, but execution has long been a problematic and cruel punishment that has no place in the Hawkeye State.

A bill introduced in the Legislature calls for a limited death penalty which would only apply to people convicted of kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and murdering a minor.

Although it would be a limited death penalty, there are already significant disparities between the incarceration rates for people of color and white people in Iowa. These disparities would most likely also be seen in death sentences.

Because of these disparities, Iowa should not push for a reintroduction of the death penalty —even if it is a limited one.

According to research done by Prison Policy, minorities are overrepresented in Iowa jails while white people are underrepresented. Black people make up only 5 % of the population in Iowa — yet they account for nearly 1/4 of the prison population. In contrast, white Iowans make up close to 90 % of the population and 66 % of the prison population.

Additionally, research has shown that Black people are more likely to be sentenced to death than white people. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Black and white Americans make up roughly 42 % of the death row population each, despite Black people only making up 13.4 % of the overall population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With the racial disparities already present in Iowa’s criminal justice system and the disparities with white versus Black people on death row, presumably, there would be a large imbalance between white and Black people sentenced to death in Iowa.

According to the ACLU, money is also a large factor that plays a part in death sentences. Many people being sentenced to death row don’t have the funds for skilled attorneys thus, they are more likely than those who can afford a skilled attorney to find themselves on death row.

There is also a history of people being sentenced to death and later being found to be innocent. One in 10 people are released for every death sentence carried out. Additionally, since the year 1963, 156 people from 26 states have been released from death row after being found innocent.

Outside of the moral and racial justice implications associated with the death penalty, a case involving the death penalty is on average more expensive than a non-death penalty case, according to analyses done of state Legislative documents by Amnesty International.

Many of the people opposed to the implementation of the death penalty stated how, as we are in the middle of a pandemic, there is not an abundance of resources to cover the cost of carrying out the death penalty.

In addition, although it may seem like it would, states with the death penalty are not found to have lower crime rates than states without.

The death penalty is already an often cruel and racially-charged punishment that our tax dollars do not need to be feeding into. Taking into account the current state of our country and our world, reintroducing the death penalty should not be on the to-do list for Iowa lawmakers.

Source: The daily Iowan, Opinion: Yassie Buchanan, January 26, 2021

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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