Georgia Lawmakers Have Introduced a Bill to End the Death Penalty

The bill was introduced by Republicans and co-sponsored by Democrats.


|||William Sands/Fracturesphoto/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom
William Sands/Fracturesphoto/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom

Last week, Georgia state representatives introduced a bill aimed at ending the death penalty.

Three Republicans, Brett Harrell (Snellville), Bill Werkheiser (Glennville), and Scot Turner (Holly Springs), introduced HB207, with three Democrats, Robert Trammell (Luthersville), Scott Holcomb (Atlanta), and William Boddie (East Point), cosponsoring. HB207 seeks to "amend the Official Code of Georgia Annotated so as to repeal the imposition of the death penalty." The proposed bill also seeks to remove any reference to capital punishment from state law as well override any laws in conflict with the new legislation.

The bill reflects a growing trend in the state's criminal justice system. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that prosecutors rarely seek the death penalty in the state as a growing number of juries are rejecting it. A person can only be sentenced to death by a unanimous decision. Anything less will result in a life sentence.

Despite the newer attitudes towards capital punishment, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that Georgia has also produced landmark Supreme Court cases regarding the practice. This includes Gregg v. Georgia, a 1976 decision which held that the death penalty was not an outright violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishments."

Harell, who is very open about his opposition to the death penalty, retweeted his stance that there was "absolutely nothing conservative about the death penalty."

Hannah Cox, the national manager of the group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, shared similar beliefs in an interview with Reason. "As conservatives try to live up to their principles, which are limited government, fiscal responsibility, and protecting the sanctity of human life," she says, "this is such an obvious area where we are failing and have failed for many years."

Cox adds that the death penalty does not meet "any of those metrics."

As for the bipartisanship of the bill, Cox says criminal justice reform, including the abolition of the death penalty, is an issue "that brings both sides together."

Capital punishment in Georgia recently sustained a new wave of criticism after the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by inmate Keith Tharpe. Sentenced to death for the murder of his sister-in-law, Jacqueline Freeman, Tharpe and his lawyers allege that now-deceased juror Barney Gattie chose the death penalty for Tharpe because Gattie was racist. To make their case, lawyers submitted a signed affidavit where Gattie used racial slurs and shared his thoughts on "'good' black folks."

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  1. …absolutely nothing conservative about the death penalty.

    How is the idea of the state imposing a final and irreversible application of punishment on an individual not small government?

    1. Very good question, FOE.

      Well, just ponder the following:

      (1) the individual will not have to pay any more FICA;

      (2) the individual will not have to pay any more federal income taxes;

      (3) the individual will never have to wear seat belts;

      (4) the individual will never have to assist in the financing of publicly owned stadia;

      (5) the individual will never be required to make his business retard accessible;

      (6) the individual will never have to comply with speed limits;

      (7) the individual will never have to produce his passport to immigration officials;

      (8) the individual will never have to obtain another driver’s license;

      (9) if she owed child support, she will never have to pay any more of the same; and

      (10) the individual will never have to worry about compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964

      1. Plus, the individual, thanks to such a conception of small government, won’t ever have to suffer the presence of misanthropes like Sparky.

      2. re (9): in Texas you can’t even die and get out of paying child support the obligation survives.

      1. Guess that went right over me head….

        Still, its nice to compile lists, particularly if they include the Sparkmeister.

        1. its nice to compile lists

          You and Liam Neeson sure you do have a lot in common.

          1. He made a list of all the reasons it’s cool to be a racist yesterday.

          2. Well, the Irish thing and we both have a particular set of skills….

            Plus, his wife was very attractive.

            BTW, a couple of weeks ago I flipped onto The China Syndrome and I had to admit that Crusty was right in his observations about Hanoi Jane. In the China Syndrome, she colored her hair just the same shade of red / auburn my wife does. Nice.

            1. Well, the Irish thing and we both have a particular set of skills….

              Also, his love for list making is what inspired Speilberg to cast him in Schindler’s List. Also, you both go looking to fight black bastards.

              Also, Jane Fonda looks her best in Klute.

              1. Sheesh, you just had to invoke melanin.

              2. Jane Fonda always looks/ed great

  2. Yet still no bill to legalize cockfighting. Sad!

  3. Yes the state should be out of the death penalty business. That should be the responsibility of the victim’s family. Vouchers for Mafia hit men.

    1. Vouchers for Mafia hit men.

      Check out 1929 guy over here.

    2. What if the “victim” is not really a “victim” like the feds killed in self defense by Randy Weaver?

      Short of death, what does the family of “victims” like Jussie Smollett or Mattress Girl or Krystal Magnum or the Reverend Al’s bitch, Brawley do?

      If the “victim’s” family oversteps its bounds, and murders, are you okay with a Melchisedech coming along and taking care of business?

  4. It is perfectly reasonable to argue that capital punishment as a theoretical does not violate the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment; and at the same time argue that (in your state anyway) it should be banned.

    The Constitution lays out what powers the Federal government has, and specifically lays out some of the big rights that the Federal government must not violated (and with the 14th Amendment the States as well). But if the citizens of a certain state want to further limit the power of government of their state, go for it.

    These aren’t opposite positions.

    1. The trick is that the punishment has to be cruel AND unusual.

      The death penalty has been around since the USA was founded, so its not unusual.

      As to it being “cruel”. Firing squad, hanging, gas chamber, and lethal injection were all at one time acceptable methods of the death penalty, so I would skeptical of the cruel moniker.

      It really comes down to whether we want the death penalty and just end the practice by legislative bodies. I think the criminal justice system is too corrupt to execute anyway for now. There are too many people that were on death row and cleared by DNA.

      Fix the system and then maybe do death penalties again.

  5. I still believe that life in prison without the possibility of parole is more inhumane than execution. The only problem with the death penalty is the non-zero chance that an innocent person could be killed. I have no moral qualms about the practice itself, just the impossibility of erasing the chance of getting the wrong person.

    1. I have heard that argument, and I totally understand it. But, what’s interesting is that if you ask just about anyone who has been found guilty of 1st degree murder which they would choose, it is almost entirely life in prison. Even without parole.

    2. If the death penalty was abolished in favor of life without parole, the whole anti death penalty agenda would switch to pressure the abolition of life without parole as being cruel and unusual.

      1. That’s a 100% certainty.

  6. It’s ridiculous. Prisons are so full of unrepentant criminals, that the gangs are so established there they are using all their ACLU rights to run organized crime from the prisons where they are untouchable.

    All on the taxpayers dime.

    I’d say after your second murder, a $.03 bullet gets parked in your brain and you get fed to the hogs.

  7. The sign in the illustration to this article calls for lawmakers to “End State Killing.” Why stop there? Why not also Stop State Kidnapping (a/k/a imprisonment)?

  8. possibly effective as a bargaining chip – “we won’t gas chamber you if you tell us where the body is” … but I’m not rooting for the state and am against it having the power to kill.

  9. Let’s not be like Norway or New Zealand where we don’t execute mass murderers because reasons. Stringent standards are a must, but keep it legal.

  10. So none of these dipshits would kill in self defence or to save someone’s life?

    Once someone has demonstrated the willingness to participate in murder twice, killing them is demonstrably in someone’s defence.

    1. okay Star Chamber but you have to be the triggerman

      1. I’d do it for free.

  11. What a bunch of hypocrites. First they oppose abortion, but at the same time they oppose…. oh shit, never mind.

    1. What a dipshit analogy.

      Somehow helpless innocent human babies are the same as unrepentant murdering adults.

      1. If someone else wanted to murder me, would it be OK for me to shoot you in self defence? You’re both human.

        Fuck, smarten up.

    2. You missed the point.
      The usual lib argument has been: The ignorant Republicans are always talking about how they are pro-life, but they support the death penalty. Hypocrites.

      Therefore, with these Georgia republicans abandoning the death penalty, they now stand on firmer debating ground since they are pro-life all around.

      My comment was a toungue-in-cheek impersonation of a lib getting ready to argue, and then noticing the tables have been turned.

      I know it’s not as funny when it has to be explained. Your fault.

      1. It’s you who seems to misunderstand the difference between innocence and guilt.

        Guilty people get punished.

        1. I do fail to see the humour in the annual murder of 750,000 helpless innocent human babies in the US.

        2. strike 2.

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