The state of Tennessee has set an execution date of January 11th, 2011, for Edmund Zagorski, who was convicted in 1984 for the murders of John Dale Dotson and Jimmy Porter in Robertson County. This execution will follow on the heels of the the slated 2010 execution dates for Stephen West on November 9th and Billy Ray Irick on December 7th.
Tennessee has only carried out 6 execution since 1960, all occurring in the last ten years. Now Tennesseans face the real possibility of three executions in just a 3 month period.
With New Jersey and New Mexico having recently abolished the death penalty and with a number of states considering repeal in 2011, Tennessee’s move toward more executions is disturbing, particularly given the strong evidence that our system here is flawed with grave potential for error.
The American Bar Association’s assessment of Tennessee’s death penalty released in 2007 showed that of 93 guidelines for a fair and accurate death penalty system, Tennessee fully complied with only 7. Furthermore, though Tennessee has executed 6, the state has also released 2 who were wrongfully convicted, men who fought their convictions and death sentences for 20 years each. And most recently, the Governor had to intervene to stop the execution of Gaile Owens, a victim of domestic abuse with serious process issues at play in her case who spent 24 years exhausting all her appeals with no remedy from the courts.
Though our hearts go out to the families of these victims who have suffered for years waiting for these sentences to be carried out, we believe that alternatives already exist that can hold offenders accountable, keep society safe, not drag these families through all this agonizing waiting, allow precious dollars to be utilized more effectively for crime prevention and victims’ family support, and not risk a wrongful execution.
TADP will inform you about actions you can take as these new execution dates draw closer.
Picture provided by JAStacey128
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