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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Death be not proud

A month ago I noted a news item about an American soldier who was spared the death penalty by a Kentucky jury for the rape murders of Iraqi civilians.

Today, a related article caught my attention. Five American soldiers were convicted of executing four Iraqi men who had been detained after weapons were found where the men had been hiding. The members of the squad lined up the detainees and shot them. They confessed that the killings were in retaliation for the killing of two American soldiers from their unit.

The soldiers were sentenced to life WITH the possibility of parole. After receiving many supporting letters from relatives and neighbors of the soldiers, "a brigadier general" reduced the sentence of one of the soldiers to "20 years with parole eligibility after 7 years." A clemency board may reduce it yet further if it finds mitigation based on combat stresss and facts showing that he was "following the lead of" higher ranking officers.

In a non-related story in the same issue, California death penalty opponents are reportedly urging that commuting current death verdicts to life without parole would save $1 billion. There are currently 682 death row inmates.

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