Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has filed his long-awaited bill to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts for deadly acts of terrorism, killing sprees, murders involving torture, and the killing of law enforcement authorities, reports the Boston Globe. The bill, which Romney called “a model for the nation” and the “gold standard” for capital punishment, draws from the findings of a special commission that set out 10 recommendations for a virtually “foolproof” death penalty law by relying on verifiable science and tougher legal safeguards. The measure calls for verifiable scientific evidence such as DNA to sentence someone to death and a tougher standard of “no doubt” of guilt for juries to sentence defendants, rather than a ”beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.
The prospects for the bill appear bleak. It met immediate resistance from death penalty opponents and several Democrats in the legislature, which has defeated many bills to reinstate capital punishment since it was abolished by the state Supreme Judicial Court in 1984. Massachusetts is one of 14 states that either have no capital punishment law or had their law abolished by state high courts, which happened in Kansas and New York last year. A 15th state, Illinois, placed a moratorium on executions in 2000 because of a series of death-row exonerations. “Anybody who thinks that this is a foolproof, gold standard bill is being misled,” added Representative David Linsky, who served 14 years as a prosecutor. “It casts a broad sweep across a wide spectrum of the criminal justice system, and a lot of people could conceivably be put to death under this bill who are innocent.”