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Death penalty needs reviewed

An 11th-hour delay of Jay D.

Friday, April 20, 2001

An 11th-hour delay of Jay D. Scott’s execution Tuesday sends a message: the state -and country for that matter – needs to review the way it handles executions.

If we are going to take an eye-for-an-eye stance against convicted killers, the court system needs to follow through with them promptly. Otherwise, the result of the execution serves less justice.

Just think of how a family who has had a loved one murdered feels when, through the process of appeals, the perpetrator manages to escape his penalty for years and years. It lessens the purpose of the execution.

Jay D. Scott, for example, has been on death row 17 years. For 17 years the family of Vinnie Prince, the man he murdered, has had to live with the pain and suffering knowing the man who killed their loved one is still drawing breaths. He was sentenced to die April 4, 1984, but through the process of appeals, Scott has managed to put off his execution.

In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Scott’s death sentence. He was scheduled to die in October of 1995, but appeals kept him alive.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Scott’s case. Gov. Bob Taft denied his requests for both clemency and reprieve.

Then just hours before his scheduled execution, the 8th District Court of Appeals in Cleveland asked the Ohio Supreme Court to delay Scott’s execution so it could have more time to determine if Scott is competent to be executed. The Supreme Court stopped the execution and gave the appeals court until 5 p.m. today to submit an opinion. The Supreme Court will meet again next Tuesday to view the ruling and determine Scott’s fate.

Scott has been on death row for 17 years, so it is puzzling to me how his sanity has not been determined yet. Was he insane when he committed the crime or have the 17 years in prison made him that way? It makes no sense to me that if he is actually incompetent it has not been discovered yet.

In its current form, the death penalty is not an effective punishment for crime. For the victim, their life is usually over in a second. For the perpetrator, though, their life goes on for years. Therefore, the consequences are not the same.

This squelches the eye-for-an-eye theory.