Legislators in at least a half-dozen states are proposing to broaden the death penalty. USA Today says that seems to counter a national trend toward scaling back its use. Lawmakers have proposed legislation that would increase the range of crimes eligible for execution. In Texas and Tennessee legislators want to include certain child molesters who did not murder their victims. Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is working with state senators to draft legislation that would make repeat offenders subject to capital punishment in some cases. Virginia is considering bills that would make accomplices to murder, as well as killers of judges and court witnesses, eligible for the death penalty.
Lawmakers or courts have temporarily halted all executions in 11 states in the past year, most of them over concerns that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, says Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, which has criticized how the death penalty has been applied. Other states with proposals to expand the death penalty include Missouri, Georgia, and Utah. USA Today did not provide much evidence about the likelihood of passage of the current crop of death penalty legislation.