Thursday, August 30, 2007

Death Penalty Reprieve Granted Last Minute

Today, it was announced that Kenneth Foster, due for execution within a few hours, had his sentence reprieved. Foster was scheduled to face the death penalty for his role as an accomplice in a murder case. Foster was the driver in a getaway car in a string of robberies that hit the San Antonio area in 1996. If Foster were executed today, his execution would have been the third capital punishment execution this week in Texas.

Texas law allows the execution of accomplices in capital felony cases. The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, granted the reprieve and accepted a parole board's recommendation for Foster to face life in prison. Perry recommended the Texas law for accomplices be re-examined. Mauriceo Brown, the gunman in the case, was executed last year.

The mother of the victim, who was a 25-year old law student at the time, viewed Foster’s reprieve as a relief. Norma Hood, the student's mother, commented: “I’m filled with peace. I will mourn my son till I die, but I’m not forced any more to relive his death.” For more information on the story, see the front page story in The New York Times, August 30, 2007.

The photo shows Foster with his girlfriend, Nicole Johnson, and their daughter, Nydesha, during a 2001 visit to Texas death row. The photo was provided courtesy of Foster's family and appeared in The Austin Chronicle, Feb. 11, 2005.

Despite Governor Perry's willingness to dismiss the death penalty in the Foster case, in May of this year, he approved a law for the use of the death penalty for second-time offenders who rape children under the age of 14 years.

What is your position on the Foster reprieve? What about the death sentence for second time offenders in rape cases involving young children? Do you think this law is fair? Should Foster's death sentence have been overturned?

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