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Alabamians uneasy about death penalty

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY-It has always surprised my friends that even though I have witnessed a number of electrocutions…seven of them, in fact…I still remain a supporter of the death penalty.
Surely they say, after seeing so many die in "Big Mama," that hideously painted electric chair, as the inmates call it, that I would have become an outspoken opponent of the death penalty.
I have not. And to those who say the death penalty is not a deterrent, I have two stock answers: One, it is not called capital deterrent, it is called capital punishment; and two, it for sure deters the condemned inmate from committing another crime.
I will admit that seeing those six men and one woman die at old Kilby Prison here in Montgomery convinced me that electrocution was not the best way to carry out a death sentence. I became an advocate of lethal injection a long time ago and finally that manner of execution is now an option in Alabama.
I bring up this less than pleasant subject because a recent poll shows a growing number of Alabamians have the uneasy feeling that the death sentence is not always fairly applied and because of this they support a moratorium on all executions to give added time to be sure an innocent person is not put to death.
The poll did not show any sentiment to outlaw the death penalty. To the contrary, 71 percent of the Alabamians surveyed support it, but many of those polled felt that under the present system an innocent person could be executed.
Because of this sentiment , 57 percent of those polled said they would support a moratorium on executions until all questions about fairness and accuracy can be resolved.
State Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, has been advocating a moratorium on executions for years but has had no success.
Vigorously opposed to putting a hold on them is Atty. Gen. Troy King.
The poll was conducted by the Capital Survey Research Center in Montgomery, an arm of the Alabama Education Association.
First off, I must point out that the results of the survey were sent to me in a envelope which also included the announcement of a fundraiser for George C. Wallace Jr., who has already announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor.
The survey was conducted in late June by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va.
But for what they are worth, here are the numbers:
Republican Primary: George Wallace Jr. 51 percent; Mo Brooks of Huntsville, 6 percent; Perry Hooper Jr. of Montgomery 6 percent and Terry Butts, 5 percent.
The poll also indicated Wallace held a commanding lead over Democrat Jim Folsom Jr., should they meet in the General Election.
The numbers were Wallace 49 percent, Folsom 36 percent.
It is the possibility of a Wallace-Folsom one-on-one battle which is most provocative. Ever since their father's were governors a life-time ago those of us in our trade wondered if the two "juniors" would ever go toe to toe. It could well happen in 2006.
By the way, the featured guest at the Wallace fundraiser Saturday night…which I did not attend…was U. S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, whose conservative views have endeared him to Fox News viewers.
Owen was a four term legislator in the 1960s-70s , including two terms in the House and two in the Senate. He made a difference for good during his years in Montgomery and he deserves a proper send-off.
Chapman noted that during her three years as auditor she has reduced the budget of that office by 25 per cent.
Worley, a Democrat, has come under all manner of fire during her term in office but as a past president of the Alabama Education Association she will be a formidable candidate.