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Advocate and lawmaker discuss future of executions in Mississippi

Advocate and lawmaker discuss future of executions in Mississippi
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 7:57 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Another Mississippi inmate wants the state to set his execution date. That comes less than a month after the state carried out the first execution in nine years.

David Neal Cox was executed by the state on November 17. Now, Blayde Nathaniel Grayson wants the state to set his execution. Death penalty opponents compare the move to “state-assisted suicide.”

“As far as people volunteering to waive their appeals and be executed, that’s, that’s a person maintaining control over his destiny,” said Death Penalty Action Director Abraham Bonowitz. “No other prisoner gets to decide how they’re going to be punished. And yet, we’re allowing that sense prisoners to do so.”

Abraham Bonowitz with Death Penalty Action says the death penalty isn’t an evenly applied consequence and shouldn’t be viewed as the only option.

“If you’re a true conservative, then the death penalty is like, the pinnacle of big government,” noted Bonowitz. “But because it’s rooted in this idea that society gets to execute us the certain individuals that we have to hold on to it? Well, no, we don’t have to hold on to it.”

Several state legislatures have passed bills that were later signed into law in recent years that do away with the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. Senator Joey Fillingane doesn’t see that happening here.

“I don’t think there’s a question about the desire of the public to have that as a deterrent effect from severe and heinous crimes in our state,” described Sen. Fillingane. “I think the question, the argument, debate needs to be about how can we under the strictures of the federal mandates regarding the death penalty and carrying it out? How can we expedite that?”

Fillingane says there are some restrictions on speeding up the process but still.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when the person to be executed has to beg the state to carry out the execution,” added Fillingane. “And it’s really not necessarily their fault. It’s the system that we built around death penalties in our country. And justice delayed is in many ways justice denied.”

As for Blayde Nathaniel Grayson, the court will still have to decide whether to grant his request to set an execution date.

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