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Death penalty in Zim for criticising government

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The Criminal Law Codification and Reform Amendment Bill, 2022, criminalises anyone caught “willfully injuring the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe”, with some offences punishable by death.

The controversial Bill was published in the Government Gazette on 23 December 2022. It was passed by the lower house of the National Assembly on 31 May 2023 and sailed through Senate on 7 June 2023. It now awaits President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s assent.

ALSO READ: Gold-backed digital tokens introduced in Zimbabwe as currency woes continue

Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF government has long sought to enact this bill, claiming it strengthens aspects of the criminal code protecting national interests.

However, critics view it as the most oppressive law yet in post-colonial Zimbabwe, saying in intends to stifle criticism and free speech. The timing is particularly sensitive as the country approaches general elections in August.

ALSO READ: Press freedom in Africa: Which countries enjoy it the most?

The legislation will also criminalise those who participate in meetings with the intention of promoting calls for economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.

If the Bill is passed, opponents are concerned that it could give authorities greater powers to restrict human rights, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association.

More worryingly, the penalties provided by the Bill range from loss of citizenship, denial of the right to vote and even the death penalty.

ALSO READ: Loadshedding: SA’s power-sharing agreements with its neighbours

The Bill was initially introduced following the contentious 2018 general elections, marked by disputed results, protests, and at least six fatalities – seemingly in response to opposition against Mnangagwa’s leadership.

Amnesty International, who have always vehemently opposed the death penalty, reiterated this week that the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner are irrelevent.

ALSO READ: Carte Blanche this Sunday | Zimbabwean Exemption Permits: Duping the desperate – WATCH

“The death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.”

“The Bill’s deliberately vague and overly broad provisions on damaging Zimbabwe’s interest and sovereignty, including by calling for economic sanctions, flies in the face of Zimbabwe’s international human rights obligations,” it added.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES BY NICK PAWSON

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BDMLR appealing for PPE donations after

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The Aberdeenshire branch of a marine rescue charity is appealing for donations of masks and gloves so they can continue their work in the region.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) only have a limited amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) to last the whole year.

Medics in the north-east put much of their supplies to use on Monday when they were called out to rescue white-beaked dolphins at a beach in Fraserburgh.

They dedicated hours to keeping the mammals up right and wet on the sand before several attempts at getting them to refloat in the water.

They were assisted by the police, fire service and the coastguard throughout the day, while members of the public kept them going with hot drinks and snacks.

Medics tried to keep the dolphins calm until they were returned to the sea. Image: Aberdeenshire Drone Services.

Appeal for PPE donations

Stacey Esson, charity coordinator for Aberdeenshire, said: “We would like to again thank everyone who came out to help at Fraserburgh.

However, we went through a lot of PPE during the rescue to make sure all our members, the other agencies and the public were protected, and now we’re running extremely low.

“The cetaceans we work with can pass zoonotic diseases to humans, so we protect ourselves with gloves and FFP3 masks.

“If there were any companies that would be willing to donate to us for future rescues, that would be a big help.”

Dedicated charity

BDMLR is a UK-wide charity which rescues marine animals, including seals and dolphins, across the country.

Last year, they responded to more than 3,100 call-outs.

The volunteer teams have to maintain their other equipment including life jackets, dolphin stretchers and training supplies, which they also have to continue fundraising for throughout the year.

Anyone who is able to donate can visit the Go Fund Me page, while companies with supplies are asked to get in touch via email to stacey.esson@bdmlr.org.uk

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[BDMLR appealing for PPE donations after Fraserburgh rescue]

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A Russian ‘spy’ whale? Killer whales biting boats?

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A Russian 'spy' whale? Killer whales biting boats? Here's how to understand these close encounters
Credit: Anton Berking, Shutterstock

Off the coast of Spain and Portugal, killer whales have been biting boats. And the famous beluga whale nicknamed “Hvaldimir” has popped up again—this time in Sweden. When first spotted in Norway in 2019, wearing a suspicious harness, some suggested he could be a Russian spy.

These unusual human-wildlife interactions raise questions about managing risk. Both situations present a maritime safety concern. And the whales are at risk of being injured or killed by the boat.

What’s more, fans of Hvaldimir are also putting themselves in harm’s way—by trying to get too close to a wild animal that lives in the water, leaning from boats and dangling from wharves.

So what’s driving these unusual whale antics? And how and when should we intervene?

Iberian killers targeting boats

In southwestern Europe, several killer whales from a critically endangered sub-population off the Iberian coast have been targeting vessels for the past two years.

Mariners have filmed killer whales biting rudders, causing steering wheels to violently move from side to side.

In extreme cases, the killer whales have broken rudders, created holes in boats and sunk at least three vessels, forcing sailors to seek maritime assistance.

A friendly ‘Russian spy’ in Swedish waters

Hvaldimir the beluga whale came to fame in 2019 when he turned up in Norwegian waters wearing a harness labeled “Equipment St. Petersburg”. (His name is a combination of the Norwegian word for whale “hval” and the Russian name Vladimir.)

Obviously, wild beluga whales don’t wear harnesses. So Hvaldimir must have been taught to do that, just as you teach a dog to wear a collar.

This means it’s likely he spent time in captivity. He appears to enjoy human company. Viral videos show him retrieving mobile phones and playing ball.

After four years off the coast of Norway, Hvaldimir traveled into Swedish waters. No one is quite sure why.

There are concerns for his safety. This area is busy with boats and fishing activity. His presence may annoy some people, such as boaties and fishers, but attract others. They’re clamoring to get close to him, on boats, jet skis and busy wharves. I call this “Hvaldimir tourism”.

There might also be less fish for him to eat in comparison to Norwegian waters.






Feeling helpless, British mariner Martin Even decided to stop for a cup of tea when killer whales bit on their rudder.

Understanding this behavior

We don’t know why the killer whales are biting boats. But there are several theories.

One is that a matriarch killer whale known as White Gladis may have had a negative interaction with a boat and begun biting back at them, prompting others to copy her behavior.

Or could yachts be a plaything for killer whales? When the rudder moves from side to side it makes a sound, much like a noisy dog toy or baby toy. Recent reports from people monitoring this behavior have said the killer whales became disinterested and left soon after they broke off boat rudders.

Perhaps over time, the killer whales will lose interest in boats. Maybe it’s a passing fad, just like killer whales’ “salmon hat trend” observed in the 1980s.

And what about Hvaldimir’s behavior? His time in care may have taught him that humans are “good”. Beluga whales are very social, often found in pods. So he might just be lonely.

What’s the solution?

Wild animals can choose what they want to do. Hvaldimir chooses to engage with humans. For the killer whales, it’s the vessels they’re interested in.

The Atlantic Orca Working Group continues to investigate this “disruptive” whale activity. It’s a collaborative effort with the Iberian maritime community, marine mammal experts, various organizations and the public.

They provide communication around killer whale behavior and provide a place to report sightings. There’s also a dedicated app mariners can use. And of course, authorities remain in place to help mariners in need of assistance.

Hvaldimir’s presence does present a challenge. He’s very mobile and seeks out humans. Norwegian and Swedish authorities—and dedicated organizations such as OneWhale—are seeking to protect him.

So should we just let Hvaldimir roam free and continue monitoring him? He’s proven his maritime smarts over the last four years. He’s not dependent on humans, able to feed himself, navigate coastal waters and dodge most human activities (although he has been injured by boats and fishing gear).

Or, do we move him to his own “safe fjord”—a closed off area with minimal human interaction and a vet on standby? This would keep him safe from tourists, vessels and fishing gear. Other “rescued” captive whales could also be placed there, with the potential for later release back to the wild. However, this is not always a straightforward endeavor.

Hvaldimir will continue to require human assistance, regardless of whether he remains wild or moves into a captive environment. If left to roam free, he may still feed himself but he will continue to seek opportunities to interact with people. These interactions will have to be monitored.

If he’s taken into human care, he will be removed from the general public but will require food from humans. He may also be visited by people who wish to see him.

There’s no silver bullet

Efforts to monitor both situations remain ongoing. Collaborative management involving the maritime community, scientists and the general public is key to protecting these marine mammals.

No doubt lessons will be learnt from the management of both situations and possibly adapted to managing future interactions between wildlife and humans.

Provided by
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Citation:
A Russian ‘spy’ whale? Killer whales biting boats? Here’s how to understand these close encounters (2023, June 9)
retrieved 9 June 2023
from https://phys.org/news/2023-06-russian-spy-whale-killer-whales.html

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Woods, Waters, and Wildlife: Telling Tall Tales

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by John Jefferson

Last week, I attended the Annual Convention and Trade Show of the Texas Press Association (TPA) at the new Kalihari Resort near Round Rock.

When newspaper journalists get together, recorders sometimes get turned off! Tall tales abound. One man from Akun Island in the Aleutians off the coast of Alaska showed me down- right gorgeous pictures from a caribou hunt, there. He also had close-up images of several bald eagles – including some in flight. He was surprised when I told him eagles wintered here – something readers of this column already knew!

The convention is a learning opportunity. It’s also a chance to unwind from the woes of decreasing circulation, constant deadlines, and increasing costs of doing business in a challenging economy while keeping the presses running. But it’s their life.

It’s the old story of having been born with printers’ ink in their blood. Some who didn’t inherit that gene – assuming there is such – acquired it by osmosis being around second, third, or even fourth generations of families that had pioneered Texas newspaper production.

I guess I’m somewhat in the latter category. I had a cousin, Robby Blevins, who was the editor or publisher (or both) of the Seguin Gazette. I was never around him much since he was always racing a deadline, but I held him in the highest regard anyway, figuring that being a newspaper editor demanded respect.

Knowing the late T.T. Hunt, managing editor of the Beaumont Enterprise and father of my best friend – Tanner Hunt – further enhanced my awe of people in newspaper publishing. Mr. Hunt radiated poetic excellence regarding the English language. He also took us to ballgames.

Once, Tanner invited me to go with him and his father up to Texas Governor Allen Shivers’ little log cabin in the Piney Woods. Tanner said to bring my bathing suit. The Governor’s kids were in the pool when we arrived and invited us to join them.

Waiting for my turn on the diving board, I noticed Mr. Hunt and Governor Shivers, the most powerful political man in Texas, sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch sipping Schlitz Tall Boys and laughing. That image has stayed with me. There’s no telling what amused them there – secluded from the press deep in the woods near the Big Thicket.

Tall tales also abounded at the TPA conference last week. I even contributed a couple.

An outdoor writer friend, Marty Malin, died recently. He had told me President George H.W. Bush spoke at a conference he attended.

Wanting to meet the president but knowing Security might prevent it — and knowing the Prez loved to pitch horseshoes — Marty took two iron horseshoes with him. He raised them high over his head and clanged them together. He said President Bush jerked his head around, pointed at Marty and grinned. And then came over to shake hands.

Really? Or another Tall Tale?

Marty was known for saying, “I ain’t lying to ya THIS time.”

JJ

 

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Army Resumes Gruesome Animal Testing With Weapons

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In a shocking turn of events, the U.S. Army has reversed its ban on weapon-wounding tests on animals, now allowing dogs, cats, monkeys, and marine animals to be subjected to these gruesome experiments. PETA is calling for a cease-fire and a reinstatement of the ban, and we need your help!

U.S. Army Resumes Gruesome Animal Testing With Weapons

Please join us by taking action below.

Take Action

Call the U.S. Army at 703-695-1717.

Here are some suggested talking points:

  • Please ban the use of dogs, cats, primates, marine mammals, and all other animals in weapon-wounding tests, which are currently permitted by U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command “Policy 84.”
  • Animals are poor stand-ins for humans due to significant physiological differences between species, which make the results of such tests useless.
  • These tests are cruel, deadly, and unreliable. Please adopt accurate and animal-free wound research methods, which are widely available.

Call the U.S. Army

Let Us Know How Your Call Went

After you’ve taken action on our alert, please visit the following social media pages for the U.S. Army.

Post polite comments urging them to replace the department’s cruel weapon-wounding experiments with animal-free research methods, which are more effective, ethical, and economical.

U.S. Army’s Facebook Page

Secretary of the Army’s Facebook Page

U.S. Army’s Instagram Page

Secretary of the Army’s Instagram Page

U.S. Army’s LinkedIn Page

Secretary of the Army’s LinkedIn Page



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El Nino Officially Developed: Warmer Weather

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The latest reports showed that El Niño played a significant role in the weather pattern 2024, bringing potential warmer temperatures.

As the La Nina event ended this year, weather reports explained that global temperatures could likely rise. La Nina had been significant in unleashing cooler temperatures.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the report explained that climate patterns could be affected by the El Nino and La Nina phenomena.

NOAA reported that the El Nino phenomenon could help water to push back in the east. In Canada and the Northern United States, drier and warmer conditions could unfold.

Meanwhile, weather conditions could change in parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast and Southeast, bringing a wetter outlook and increased flooding.

El Nino pattern impact on the U.S. in 2023 – 2024

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

(Photo : by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK. Reports showed that El Niño developed and is expected to impact global weather patterns and strengthen in 2024 significantly, bringing warmer temperatures. Read here. 

The advisory in the National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center explained that the El Nino conditions could likely gradually strengthen in the Northern Hemisphere.

AccuWeather reported that the last El Nino phenomenon emerged in late 2018 and 2019, adding that the El Nino event could unfold in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The weather report explained that El Nino could help unleash wet weather conditions in parts of the Gulf Coast and California.

In other portions of the United States, the report noted that active storms could unfold in the South. Northern US could also experience a drier weather outlook.

On the other hand, Reuters reported that countries were preparing for the potential impact of the El Nino phenomenon as warm waters could emerge in the eastern Pacific.

Ohio Valley could also experience potential dry conditions.

The World Meteorological Organization recently reported the possibility of developing El Nino this year.

According to the report, La Nina was essential to cool the weather from rising global temperatures. As the El Nino begins, the report noted the temperatures could soar.

El Nino preparation in other countries

Reuters report added that the El Nino is 2015 and 2016 significantly impacted the anchovy population in parts of Peru. In Australia, the Great Barrier Reef was impacted.

The report noted that heavy rainfall could occur in parts of South and Central America.

Also Read: El Nino to Bring Warmer Temperatures After Official End of La Nina

Meanwhile, Aljazeera reported that the El Nino phenomenon could set new temperature records.

In Japan, El Nino could likely influence potential bushfires.

According to AccuWeather, NOAA reported an 84% chance that El Nino could become least moderate by or before the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.

However, the report noted a 56 percent chance of a possible strong El Nino phenomenon.

WMO said the world should prepare for El Nino from drought conditions, heavy rainfall and increased heat.

Did you know?

According to the USGS, the term or name El Nino comes from a Spanish or the Christ Child, adding that the event could occur in two years or a decade.

Related Article: Australia Forecast: El Nino Likely to Cause Hot, Dry Weather

For more similar stories, don’t forget to follow Nature News.


© 2023 NatureWorldNews.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.



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Gun safety bills fail in Texas legislature

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AUSTIN, Texas  — For more than a year, families impacted by the Uvalde massacre and other gun safety advocates have frequently traveled to the Texas Capitol. They called on lawmakers to raise the age to purchase an assault-style rifle from 18 to 21. The gunman in Uvalde purchased two AR-15s as soon as he turned 18.


What You Need To Know

  • Republican representatives Justin Holland of Rockwall and Sam Harless of Spring sided with Democrats to advance the so-called raise-the-age bill out of committee.  It was a brief moment of relief for the Uvalde families, but the bill didn’t go any further because there wasn’t enough Republican support
  • Instead of tightening laws on gun purchases, the Legislature made it easier, giving gun owners more access and freedom
  • Democrats also filed bills that would have created red flag laws, implemented safe gun storage requirements and mandated licensed sellers to report multiple semi-automatic weapon purchases to law enforcement. None of these bills made it far in the legislative process
  • While Republicans focused on increasing school security and expanding mental health care resources during the regular session, those impacted by gun violence say they’ll never stop asking lawmakers for stronger gun laws in Texas

Republican representatives Justin Holland of Rockwall and Sam Harless of Spring sided with Democrats to advance the so-called raise-the-age bill out of committee. It was a brief moment of relief for the Uvalde families, but the bill didn’t go any further because there wasn’t enough Republican support.

“We’re glad that bill died,” said Wes Virdell, the Texas State director for Gun Owners of America (GOA). “Thankfully, a lot of GOA members and a lot of other activists across the state got engaged with the Legislature that day when those two Republicans had voted for that bill to get it out of committee. And thankfully, I think they got the message loud and clear that that is not something we’re OK with.” 

Democrats also filed bills that would have created red flag laws, implemented safe gun storage requirements and mandated licensed sellers to report multiple semi-automatic weapon purchases to law enforcement. None of these bills made it far in the legislative process. 

“We don’t think that those are actually going to stop the shootings. We do think that there is a serious mental health issue here in the country right now,” Virdell said. 

While one gun safety expert says she had realistic expectations for the Republican-led Legislature, it’s still disappointing that the bills didn’t move. And, she says, it especially stings with the raise-the-age bill. 

“It was emotionally very difficult to accept,” said Nicole Golden, executive director of Texas Gun Sense. “I don’t think any of us should accept that our state leaders couldn’t come together to pass a very moderate measure that would have prevented the shooting in Uvalde and could prevent future shootings in our schools and communities. So while that was very difficult to process, at the same time, I still really do feel totally inspired by the work that we did to move it as far as we did with that bipartisan committee vote, which was really historic in so many ways.” 

Golden celebrates that certain bills at least got hearings, and she is proud that an amendment was added to a school safety bill that will provide safe gun storage information to parents of schoolchildren.

“The Legislature passed SB 728, a bipartisan bill filed by Republicans in the House and the Senate to require better reporting in line with federal guidelines of mental health records for youth aged 16 to 18, and to prevent possession of firearms in cases where there may be a documented, dangerous history. That passed, so I think we should all be very proud of that and the bipartisan effort there,” Golden said.

Golden added there’s a lot of momentum to build on for the next regular legislative session, which will begin in January 2025. And, she says she and others will likely push for the raise-the-age bill again.

“I suspect that a lot of organizations, not only ours, will want to take it up again, and I suspect that the survivors from Uvalde will want to keep fighting,” Golden said. “We said we would support them as long as it took, and we will.”

Instead of tightening laws on gun purchases, the Legislature made it easier, giving gun owners more access and freedom, such as putting in roadblocks so credit card companies will be deterred from tracking firearm purchases, allowing district clerks to carry guns to work and prohibiting local municipalities from requiring firearm liability insurance.

“I think that having liability insurance is great,” Virdell said. “We have insurance on a lot of things. But I think what we’re against is the government mandating that you have to have that insurance.” 

Within the the big school safety bill was a provision requiring schools to have at least one armed security guard on campus.

“Going into session, we were told not to expect really anything, that we’re just trying to break even this session because of the Uvalde shooting and some other things,” Virdell said. “Anyways, we ended up getting five bills passed. So I would say that’s a pretty big win compared to what we were expecting, and all the bills that we were opposed to ended up getting blocked.” 

While Republicans focused on increasing school security and expanding mental health care resources during the regular session, those impacted by gun violence say they’ll never stop asking lawmakers for stronger gun laws in Texas.

“Lawmakers that are weakening our gun laws are totally out of step with public opinion and with what really works to improve public safety. We know polls are really high among a broad swath of Texans for common-sense gun laws, not weakening our standards. But the truth is, we defeated most of those bills…bills, for example, that would arm elections judges or allow open carry of school marshals. We’re really proud of fighting those in Texas. You have to play a strong defense game, and that is another way you show your success and your progress.” 

Follow Charlotte Scott on Facebook and Twitter.



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Cat rescue in Westmoreland County looking for

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NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Earlier this week, a woman dropped off a cat in distress at the clinic at Frankie’s Friends Cat Rescue in New Kensington. Immediately, volunteers knew something was very wrong. Veterinarians found a piece of electrical wire twisted around the cat’s leg – so much so that it was cutting off circulation.

“We have him bandaged up right now…” said Julia McCurry of Frankie’s Friends. “We’re not sure if the limb can be saved at this point, due to the infection.”

It’s been a rough few days for Sparky the Cat, who is believed to be less than a year old and facing the possibility of having his leg amputated. Volunteers believe this was 100 percent intentional.

“Unless he can grow thumbs and twist it on himself…this wasn’t an accident,” McCurry said.

Sparky is able to hobble around the clinic as staff members try to make him comfortable. They said sparky was found in a trailer park in Sarver and have seen cases like this before. Last year, Channel 11 met Vic, who was found with a rubber band wound tightly around his leg.

Volunteers rely on donations to help care for these animals in need but said that even with help from the public, these situations never get easier.

“What type of person would do this to this cat? This is a sweet little guy who just wants attention – so obviously, I mean, he doesn’t deserve this,” McCurry said.

Once he is healed, Sparky will be placed up for adoption. If you would like to know more or can help with the investigation, give Frankie’s Friends a call.

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW



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Bizarre legal debate shows it’s time to talk about

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Read the next paragraph and see if it doesn’t seem like the plot of a dystopian science fiction novel in which the future is going horribly wrong. Or maybe it’s the plot of a social satire in which society has gone horribly, well, wrong.

Lawyers are arguing over the future of a young man accused of murder to decide if he has the mental acuity to qualify for the death penalty. In other words: Is he smart enough to be executed by the state? Prosecutors want to get an answer from the South Dakota Supreme Court since the laws on that sort of thing are vague. They’re doing this before, yes, you read that right, before the man’s conviction for murder.

It seems like overkill, pardon the pun, to worry so much about the execution of a prisoner before achieving a conviction. It’s difficult to understand why there’s such a rush. When the death penalty is involved, justice is seldom swift. A recent South Dakota Searchlight story about the plight of Amir Beaudion Jr. highlights all the lawyering going on for a penalty that’s rarely used in South Dakota.

Some states use the death penalty early and often. That hasn’t been the case in South Dakota where the death penalty was first used on March 1, 1877, when Jack McCall was hanged for killing Wild Bill Hickok. In the 146 years since then, the death penalty has been used in South Dakota 19 times. The most recent was on Nov. 4, 2019, with the execution of Charles Rhines for the murder of Donavan Schaeffer.

Although it is seldom used in this state, the death penalty can be a topic of debate. In the 2016 legislative session, a bill to abolish the death penalty got a lengthy hearing by the Senate State Affairs Committee. The bill’s main sponsor was Vermillion Republican Arthur Rusch, a former circuit court judge. In his role as judge, Rusch carried out a jury’s verdict and sentenced Donald Moeller to die for the murder of 9-year-old Becky O’Connell.

Death penalty dispute could go to state Supreme Court

It was clear that Rusch was still feeling the emotional effects of sentencing another man to die. He also noted the cost to counties that host a death penalty case, explaining that if death is on the line, the sitting judge will make sure that the defendant has a first-class defense.

A proponent of the bill was Rep. Timothy Johns, a Republican from Lead who had also served as a circuit court judge. Johns noted the irony of a pro-life state like South Dakota having a death penalty. Former state Attorney General Roger Tellinghuisen spoke in favor of the bill, noting that while he backed the death penalty as a young prosecutor he came to believe that it wasn’t a deterrent for criminals.

Speaking against the bill was Marty Jackley, who was then and is once again the state’s attorney general. He explained that the penalty is used only against the most deserving criminals. Also speaking against the bill was Lynette Johnson, the wife of corrections officer Ronald Johnson, who was beaten to death by Rodney Berget and Eric Robert. Robert was executed in 2012; Berget in 2018.

After lengthy testimony, the committee rejected the bill and South Dakota’s death penalty lives on to this day. But, like any relic, it is rarely taken out and used.

A recent op-ed in the Washington Post was written by two former governors of Alabama, one Republican and one Democrat. They both presided over executions during their tenures as governor and now have come to regret it. They noted research by the Death Penalty Information Center that says one person on death row is exonerated for every 8.3 executions. That means that the wrong judgment is levied about 12% of the time. If those numbers hold true through the ages, that means there’s a statistical chance that two of the people executed in South Dakota were not guilty.

The death penalty gets more of a workout in Alabama than it does in South Dakota. In Alabama, 167 people are on death row. In South Dakota, there’s one. The lone inmate on death row, still fighting his conviction in the courts, is Briley Piper, convicted of murder in 2000.

Consider the ever-mounting cost of Piper’s court battles. Include the fact that South Dakota’s death penalty obviously wasn’t a big enough deterrent to keep Piper from participating in the murder of Chester Allan Poage. It all adds up to a rarely used law that isn’t worth having on the books.

South Dakota banned the death penalty in 1915 only to bring it back in 1939. With only one prisoner on death row, it may be time to consider banning it again. If nothing else, a new ban would squelch the oddball debate about whether a man with an I.Q. of 60, who has yet to be convicted of murder, should be eligible for a state execution.

 

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