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Controlling Juvenile Crime Rates: How the Justice System is Addressing the...

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SPONSORED CONTENT By Mark Sherman, an attorney who focuses in criminal litigation involving juveniles. He has 19 years of experience and is licensed to practice in Connecticut,...

Video: Del. Surovell Demolishes Mandatory Minimum Sentences

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Delegate Scott Surovell speaks on the floor of the House of Delegates about how mandatory minimum sentencing undermines the U.S. Bill of Rights, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and the right of citizens to fashion punishments most appropriate for the crime committed.
You tell 'em, Scott! :)

Jim Webb Fights for Criminal Justice Bill

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I strongly agree with Jim Webb, the Senate needs to vote on this bill and pass it already. It's long, long overdue.

Virginia Getting Lectured On Morals … By Iran?

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is crazy. But how pathetic is it when he's making excuses for his crazy actions by pointing to Virginia?
Speaking to state-run news agency, IRNA, Ahmadinejad cited a double standard  over the outcry over an Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, who had been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, but was suspended due to international criticism. He said despite the chiding of Iran over Ashtiani, there has been no similar protest over the scheduled execution of Teresa Lewis, 41, a Virginia woman convicted of a double-homicide.

"A woman is being executed in the United States for murder but nobody protests against it," said Ahmadinejad, who is in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly.

Is it just Virginia's moral authority that's hurt by executions? Not even Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick is willing to step in.

The Failure of Virginia’s Death Penalty

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Gov. Bob McDonnell refused to intervene last night in the scheduled execution of a Virginia woman. She was convicted of being the "mastermind" of a murder scheme even though her IQ was tested at 72. Gov. McDonnell was so proud of this decision, he announced it at 7:01pm on a Friday night.

That someone just two IQ points away from the accepted definition of mental retardation can be executed is only one of many strikes against the death penalty. One inmate on Virginia's death row was sentenced to death based on the testimony of one man who's since recanted. States have executed people later proven innocent. (There are many other cases I could list here, feel free to list your most outrageous one in comments.)

But far & away the biggest strike is that the death penalty so utterly fails to serve its stated purpose -- crime deterrence. Virginia is #2 in executions since 1976, but our murder rate in 2008 was 23rd-highest among states. There's no evidence of a historical trend, either -- all those executions didn't stop a spike in Virginia's murder rate from 1987-1997. As Amnesty International reports:

A September 2000 New York Times survey found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty. FBI data shows that all 14 states without capital punishment in 2008 had homicide rates at or below the national rate.
Take a look at the chart at top right. If you compare Virginia to states without the death penalty, Virginia's murder rate is below only that of Michigan. We're safer than Detroit! Hooray ... ?

And there's the whole thing about how maybe in the year 2010, our government shouldn't be sanctioning killing anyone. Haven't we evolved past "an eye for an eye"? Not in Virginia.