Justice inches closer for Bishop

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Justice inches closer for Bishop

Post  Jennie on Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:04 pm

Justice inches closer for Bishop

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has removed the constitutional cloud from the state's method of administering lethal injection in capital cases, Mississippi seems to be getting about the business of expediting executions.

State Attorney General Jim Hood has asked the state Supreme Court to set Lee County death row inmate Dale Leo Bishop's execution on or before July 23.

Bishop, 34, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2000 for the kidnapping and slaying of 22-year-old Marcus Gentry of Fulton. Gentry was beaten with an 18-ounce carpenter's framing hammer on a dirt logging road outside Saltillo on Dec. 10, 1998, after an argument.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused without comment Monday to hear an appeal from Bishop.

Bishop was contesting his capital murder and kidnapping convictions, alleging ineffectual counsel and the trial judge's failure to move the trial out of Lee County because of publicity.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected those claims in February.

Mississippi executed Earl Wesley Berry on May 21 for the Nov. 29, 1987, kidnapping and beating death of 56-year-old Mary Bounds in Chickasaw County.

After Berry's execution, 64 inmates remained on Mississippi's death row - 3 women and 61 men. 31 are white, 32 black and one is Asian. The youngest is Terry Pitchford, 21, convicted in Grenada County; the oldest, Gerald James Holland, 70, was convicted in Harrison County. The longest-serving death row inmate, Richard Jordan, 61, was convicted in Jackson County 30 years ago.

Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps has said it costs $14,000 to execute an inmate, including staff overtime and preparing the death chamber at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. By contrast, he said, it cost more than $350,000 to incarcerate Berry for 20 years.

Arguments are obvious against the death penalty: selective sentencing, the state's failure to finance proper death investigations, racial and/or socioeconomic discrepancies and, for many, basic moral objections.

But the death penalty remains the law of the land in Mississippi. Until the citizens of this state decide to change that reality, the notion of multi-decade stays on death row and interminable appeals are an affront to the families of crime victims.

Bishop appears to have exhausted most if not all of his appeals. A decade of appeals is more than enough. The family of Bishop's victim is still awaiting closure.

The courts should provide that closure and move forward with enforcing the law.

(source: Clarion Ledger)

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